Set the Game and Your Career with AMA

Have you ever wondered what launches the skyrocketing careers of local marketers? One reoccurring factor propelling career success is volunteering for AMA Houston. Find out why through our monthly personal interview blog featuring an AMA leader. To kick off this new series, let’s start at the top with a question-and-answer interview with Michelle Le Blanc, current AMA Houston president.

Michelle LeBlanc headshot

Michelle Le Blanc, AMA Houston President

The Power of the AMA Community

Q: Michelle, how did you first get involved with AMA Houston?
A: I was an AMA New Orleans member in 2005, working for an agency based in the French Quarter, when Hurricane Katrina struck. Because we weren’t going to be able to get back to work in our own offices for at least six weeks, I reached out to my AMA network. Christine Mathers, who was then AMA Houston president, found our agency a place for us here in Houston for three months. Weatherford, her oil and gas service employer, generously gave us workspace, phones, and Internet use.

As conditions in New Orleans slowly improved, my co-workers went back. But I liked Houston, just like I had enjoyed New York City earlier in my career, so I stayed here.

Trust Builds Careers and Relationships

treeQ: You started Blue Sky Marketing five years ago. How has AMA supported you along the way?

A: A strong AMA network was essential for me to launch and grow my marketing strategy business. My AMA’s client referral system was similar to a fast-growing tree that kept branching out and growing new leaves. Clients came from AMA members, who told their friends, who then told their friends. And on and on, my referral tree grew. I gave my new business six months to become self-sustaining, and I was thrilled to meet this goal with months to spare.

Q: Building a contact base through AMA has been important, but what made your AMA network feel confident about hiring and referring others to your company?
A: They already knew a good bit about my work and my work ethic through volunteering. I collaborated on projects. I demonstrated my commitment to both the organization and to professional excellence. If I only attended the monthly luncheons, I wouldn’t have been able to establish their trust. You earn someone’s trust based on personal experience or the experience of someone you respect. That’s why I got involved.

Q: Our business and personal lives are busier than ever. What would you tell people about investing their time and talents in AMA?
A: It’s always a win-win whenever we, as marketers, have an opportunity to demonstrate talents, gain new skills, get energized by working with others in our field, and expand our professional network. Also, sometimes a person wants a new opportunity or needs to weather a downsizing; these situations are easier when there’s already a strong community in place.

To me, volunteering offers so many benefits. It can be very inspiring and energizing. For example, I loved co-leading the Interactive Marketing Strategic Interest Group (SIG) a few years ago. I recruited Steven Leeper to serve as my co-chair. We were able to revitalize a struggling group with popular topics. It was invigorating to see this SIG take off.

Like many, I’m also a Houston transplant. Most of my friends have come through AMA. It’s an excellent clearinghouse to find people that I respect personally, professionally, and intellectually. And as some of you know, I met my husband, Dave Henry of iFilm Productions, at an AMA Networking Happy Hour. We met, talked, had a lot in common, and are now celebrating our fourth anniversary. Certainly, this ranks as my most unexpected benefit from AMA! I would have never predicted a natural disaster would set in motion a course that thanks to my AMA community has resulted in so many positive outcomes.

Be Curious to Find a Good Volunteer Match

Q: What makes a successful volunteer experience?
A: I think it takes both sides to form a great team. Our leaders of volunteer coordination must set clear expectations. Likewise, volunteers need to understand what they are taking on for specific roles. Know what you want to get out of the experience, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to find a good fit. For example, I know a volunteer who can only help at nights, so she chose a role that worked within those parameters. I think an active, questioning mindset sets the stage to find the right volunteer match, especially with so many excellent choices. You can help with the various aspects of our events, donate time to the AMA Gives Back Program, or mentor a college student, to name just a few.

The Next Step

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your perspectives and insights with us. So readers, you’ve heard it straight from the top. The first step is to get involved. But what if you feel stretched thin already? Then test the waters. Donate two hours a month. In addition to the career benefits, who doesn’t gain more energy and enthusiasm by working alongside other smart, active, fun people? And there’s no time like now, during our annual membership drive, to get started. Register by May 1, and use promo code AMA15 to receive $15 off your membership and we'll also waive the $30 activation fee.

Contact volunteer coordinator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out all that AMA Houston has to offer.

Contributed by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., AMA Houston Chair of Content and Copywriting, and owner of JW Communications Group, specializing in consulting, writing, and digital marketing.

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