Hank Blank’s Story About Laguna Niguel Connectors.

Standard

I am one of the Founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors.  I remember the original touch point as if was today but I could be all wrong.  It was in the summer of 2008.  Somebody introduced me to Randy Miller and we had a Starbucks in my hood called Laguna Niguel.  Population 62,979.  Average household income of $98,000.

We were about a year into the New Normal but nobody recognized it yet on a grand scale.  I had but I live very close to the streets as a consultant who has to create a job each and every day.   The melt down began in 2007 but many people were still embracing the lie that things were OK.

Randy and I innocently and briefly talked about building a local networking group of like minded people.  We had another planning meeting at the same Starbucks with Dipak Shan and Gregory Gaines. Our skin colors, nationalities and backgrounds were all very different but our hearts beat the same way, We talked about some very simple principles.  About paying it forward.  There was no great grand vision because nobody knew the misery that was coming.  Somebody created a Linkedin page in August 2008.  We soon had our first meeting and 23 people came to the same Starbucks.  In September of 2008 the bank too big to fail failed and the world quickly melted.

Almost three million people lost their jobs that year.  That’s the entire population of Orange County.  Some were in in Laguna Niguel.  Their average income was no longer $98,000.  Then the meetings got bigger and bigger.  Very quickly many people started to come to Laguna Niguel Connectors because there weren’t that many places to go for so many people in transition. When over a 100 people were gathering outside that Starbucks the Baristas asked me what’s going on here?  It is a cult I joked or a local Amway meeting.  They laughed and moved on.

Today Laguna Niguel Connectors has over 3400 members.  We have satellite chapters that people organized.  We have volunteers organizing events. Many angels came out over the years.  We have name tags.  We now meet twice a month. I like the meeting at Salt Creek Winery the best.

One of the lessons I have learned is the possibility of serendipity and innocence.  What if Randy or I had decided not to meet at that Starbucks? What is Dipak or Gregory wouldn’t have attended the follow up?  Would there have been a Laguna Niguel Connectors?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  Some group would have been created because the three million people in transition from 2008 and more from the following years needed some place to go.

One lucky serendipity that  made Laguna Niguel Connectors successful was that outside that Starbucks there was a large area for people to meet and congregate.  What also worked was the fire hose of social media and the growth of Linked  aligned with the millions of people losing their jobs in the coming years. Those people quickly learned  about the power of creating their own personal brand on the Internet.

What also worked was the power of the people that came.  The majority didn’t have a job but they had great value and they found a  place to meet and get support and offer their skills. Laguna Niguel Connectors became  place to learn how to navigate the New Normal.  The meetings thankfully are smaller, the attitude of people to pay it forward the same.

That Starbucks is closing soon I have been told. I hope it is a sign of things to come.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You can also read some other blogs that may be able to help you.

Why I Network With People in Transition.

How to Stay Strong When the Search is Long.

How to Create a Job.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Hank Blank’s Story About Laguna Niguel Connectors.

  1. Nice to hear, Hank. As you might recall, South County Network developed in a similar way when Linda Marcus, Carol Beekman and I all met over coffee and Linda mentioned her idea to start a group. Same focus and attitude: to share ideas and resources, network, help each other brainstorm solutions to work challenges or suggest ideas for getting a job or improving our businesses. Linda would have to tell you what year that was…about 15 years ago now? It really helped to take the benefits online with a posting group too! Thank you all for paying it forward!

  2. South County was a great group. I remember when the world last melted in 2001. South County was a terrific place to go to network and find new resources. Thanks to you and Linda and Carol who had the vision to start it. Take care. Hank

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s