Leah Linney headshotby Leah Linney

Austin Executives Association (AEA) has been a part of my life since 1981. So, you ask, why have I stayed with one organization for so long? Let me count the reasons, in no particular order.

Business opportunities – after all, it IS a networking group, but it covers so much more than “leads.” Every week (except first Wednesdays), I have access to professionals in a variety of fields which can assist my small business: attorney, IT and web services, human resources, specialty advertising, business broker, office products; or give personal support: financial advisor, travel agent, mortgage company; and some who support both business and personal: CPA, Realtor, interior design, general contractor, roofer.

No Pressure – I come, I enjoy, I share. No demerits if I don’t have a lead or bring a guest. Actually leads are generally passed privately to a specific person, so are much “warmer” than “so-and-so moved so will need insurance, telephone service, printing, office supplies, etc.”

Interesting speakers – I learn about each member’s background and trade through “craft talks.” These are balanced throughout the year with guest speakers who might talk on any number of subjects: office organization, light rail proposals, engineer’s supporting role in NASA space flight, Operation Finally Home (supports military veterans), Leadership Austin.

Education – from outside speakers, as well as fellow members. Topics have covered addiction recovery, River Watch Youth Program, authors of various book topics, LCRA history and current water supply issues, palliative care.
Current events – speakers invited to address current topics affecting business in Austin – city council nominees, mayoral nominees, light rail plan, TXDOT highway and roads plan, CodeNext (city of Austin planning regulations), Austin Community College growth at the former Highland Mall property.

Midweek break – quality lunch by excellent chefs in a beautiful, calm, serene setting, joined by other business professionals with whom I can share concerns and successes.

Fun – Occasional socials outside of meetings: the holidays, happy hours, individual lunches or dinners.

Friends – long term friendships; watch each grow through the years – pregnancy and growth of a child; illness and death of members and spouses; ups and downs of business cycles.

Affordable – The dues cover the cost of the high quality meal, prepared by the country club chef. And speaking of meals, I have a choice weekly of 3 items, which change every 2-3 weeks. Those with diet restrictions can request accommodations.

Support –Through thick and thin, business and personal, fellow members are ready to “jump to the rescue.” (See John Fincher’s blog.) I was a member of this group and another networking group at the time my husband passed after a two-year illness. During his illness, this group sent emails periodically expressing interest and support. At the time of his death, members of AEA sent cards, emails, and gave of their time to attend his memorial service. No one from the other group came to his funeral, or contacted me in any way to offer condolences. I’ll never forget that.

This group is not for everyone. If you are looking for solid ROI dollars, immediate and constant lead generation, this group is not for you. Success in business IS built on relationships – it’s WHO you know, not WHAT you know. If you are looking to grow your business with the support of caring individuals, I invite you to visit a meeting and consider joining for the long term investment of relationships. Life is so much more than leads.

by Leah Linney
Medical Parkway Printing, Inc.