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Not your typical networking

Chicks Connect doles out love, support — and business advice


by: CLIFF NEWELL - Leslie Akin was overwhelmed when she was named Chick of the Year by Chicks Connect. Akin has been instrumental in making the group a success.There was a lot of voom in the room when Chicks Connect celebrated its anniversary on Nov. 13.

The organization, which originated in Lake Oswego, has been so successful in only two years that its founder, Julie Muller, is now spreading the good word about Chicks Connect around the country. That could set the stage for a Chicks population explosion.

But the recent celebration was just a down-home affair with a potluck lunch, prize drawings, awards, love and one really big surprise.

The recipient of this surprise was Leslie Akin, who was honored as Chick of the Year by her sister Chicks. Akin wears her big, warm heart on her sleeve, and she was extremely moved by the honor. When Akin started crying, her friends started passing the Kleenex. Later, she could laugh.

“Where’s Bert Parks when you need him?” joked Akin. “I was totally blindsided. Everything I’ve done with Chicks Connect has been because I believe in the dream of women everywhere enjoying a perfectly magical support network. I believe in it so much.

“Nothing is set in stone, except we have a darn good time and support each other, and we want others to attend.”

Akin was most thankful to Muller, whom she calls “a genius with a big heart.”

Muller could only congratulate Akin via Skype because she was in Florida starting more CC chapters. In fact, Muller is so dedicated to spreading Chicks Connect that her family has moved into a motor home so Muller can travel the nation and meet women face-to-face.

“My heart was so full and ready to create something beyond what I could imagine,” said Muller, who is a personal trainer. “Doors were opening and mentors were showing up. I knew something was coming, but I had no idea it would be Chicks Connect.”

Chicks Connect started out of frustration. Muller and Akin were frustrated by all of the run-of-the-mill networking events.

“There was something missing,” said Akin, who is owner of Lake Oswego Graphics. “A more meaningful and significant connection, something with soul.”

Soon after they met, they formed a soul sisterly connection, and thus Chicks Connect was hatched. Instead of just being concerned with sales, the new organization sought to nurture and develop genuine friendships. Women who walked through the doors of CC meetings were not just given business cards but love, support and also information on how to start their own businesses or make necessary changes.

Akin said, “I could write a book on the miracles that have happened in Chicks.” But the first story that springs to her mind is one about a woman who showed up at a meeting in a state of great despair; mostly because she could not make a decision on what to do next in her life. The Chicks advised her to do something, even if it was wrong.

A month later the woman walked into the meeting with bright eyes because she had started an apparel design studio. Her life and business have been blossoming ever since.

Maybe Muller herself should write a book about Chicks Connect, whenever she stops her travels for a little while.

“For once in my life I have crystal clear vision, clarity to my purpose,” Muller said. “I was given this gift to spread around the world.”

To find out more about Chicks Connect, go to ChicksConnect.com/affiliates or go to the organization’s fanpage at facebook.com/chicksconnect.




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