Creative Lunch Club Feeds an Appetite for Connection

Meet your fellow ad pros and creatives from other industries over a meal

A few years ago, Klaus Heller, a social media marketer from Vienna, Austria, was working from home full-time and eating lunch by himself five days a week. Then he was struck by a thought: "It would be nice to use this time to meet other people working in similar fields."

So, Heller reached out to a few folks he knew from social media—but not real life—and invited them to lunch. They were all game, and the meetup went so well Heller was inspired to start Creative Lunch Club.

Now nearly a year old, the free service is aimed at creatives of all stripes—including writers, art directors, creative directors, illustrators, muralists, digital designers, animators and filmmakers—who are eager to network and socialize over a mid-day meal.

Those who sign up are matched with two other creatives at the beginning of each month; then it's up to them to set up a time and place for lunch. "It's a decentralized concept. We are not hosting any lunches," Heller notes. "We are just connecting the people."

CLC proved popular from the start, according to Heller. While lots of people from Vienna signed up at the outset, the club quickly attracted members from cities including Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels.

Soon enough, CLC went worldwide, with creatives from London, Sydney and Melbourne enrolling. In the United States, there are members in NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta among other cities.

Léa Kichler, who oversees design and animation for Condé Nast magazines' video content, signed up when she heard about it.

"I work remotely and have been at Condé Nast my entire career, so I was looking to expand my network and meet fellow creatives around me," Kichler says. "Creative Lunch Club works well for me because I can meet people in whatever city I'm working from that month."

So far, Kichler has attended five lunches with a variety of creatives—a photographer from Vienna, a web designer from Lisbon and art directors and video producers from NYC.

"The diversity in matches has been really fun," Kichler says. "I've gained a lot of perspective on different career paths, people's experience launching their own projects or becoming freelance and exchanged a lot of general goal setting and career growth. Everyone has a different story, and the wealth of perspectives in an intimate setting is very special."

Kichler's response is typical of the feedback Heller receives from members. "Some people told me that they made new friends, others that they found new clients or projects through Creative Lunch Club." Some lunchers have even become  creative collaborators, he says.

Heller is, of course, a member of the club he founded.

"I have been to many lunches myself and met a bunch of interesting people through Creative Lunch Club," he enthuses, noting, "I think it's really an easy way to connect with other creatives on a deeper level than at industry events."

"As many advantages the home office has," he adds, "Seeing nobody all day cannot be good for us."

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