Is Your Net-Working?   What is Effective Business Networking, Really? by Marlene Marco

“Showing up is important, but its natural companion, consistency is what makes it a powerful duo.  Showing up consistently is where the magic happens.”  Jeff Olson, The Slight Edge

Nowhere is this a truer statement than a business owner looking to build their connections and expand their ripple in their community and their industry.

The pursuit of effective and purposeful business networking is always on my radar and, in fact, has been my focus for the past twelve years.  Like you, I have attended networking events that simply weren’t right for me.  I decided to create a community and a platform that incorporated the elements I have learned are critical to the success of every business owner.

We have fine tuned, adjusted and evolved over the years.  Heart of Networking has now created a winning formula.  I’m often asked – “Is it really possible to achieve a healthy ROI on an investment (of both time and money) in business networking?  The answer is YES!!  I say that with 100% certainty when all the ingredients are in place.  So, what are these magic ingredients?  Like any story – there are two sides to examine.

  • The side we, as an organization are responsible for providing, is what sets the tone:

Our tagline speaks volumes…Connection, Education and Opportunity.  Every event we create must, without exception include these 3 elements.  

Connection means many things FAR above and beyond meeting your next client.  Yes – that’s a goal and an essential part of building a profitable business, BUT what if there was a much BIGGER picture and much BIGGER value to be found networking?  What if, through building positive relationships you could actually create an entire team of ambassadors that are sharing your message.  What if your fellow networkers got to know not only what you do but why you do it?  What if dozens of other business people got to know, like, trust AND remember you so that they could confidently refer you when the need for your services came into their awareness?  Here’s a real-life example.  A dear friend, who I met through Heart of Networking is well known and respected for her animal reiki services.  Now, I don’t personally have pets, so chances are I will never be a direct client.  However, I am a valuable connection for her because I am a connector with a large circle of contacts (many of whom have pets), and I’ve gotten to know, like, trust and remember her for those conversations. 

Education is an ongoing and never-ending part of doing business!  Among our VIP members we have a wealth of knowledge and a great many experts willing to share their knowledge.  Each event includes a business-related topic that is timely and fits with the theme of the event.  A trainer or a speaker willing to offer advice with topics such as social media, bookkeeping, marketing, finances, communication etc.  all valuable skills you can tweak to improve your business and your business practices.  Every member has the option to apply for a speaking position, should they choose to.

Opportunity refers to what you do with what you’ve learned and who you’ve met.  Our members are easy to find in the member directory and we suggest you make a habit of following up with the other attendees that caught your attention.  There are many collaborations that have developed between members as well.  You may meet someone who serves the same market as you do but serves in a different way.  This could be the start of something big for both of you!  A word of advice – collaborations must be beneficial to both sides – a true win/win situation.

  •  The side that you, as a business owner are responsible for:

There’sno mystery here.   Your job is to give as much as you take.  Be the kind of person others want to be around.   Show up with a generous and positive attitude.  Be a sponge – learn all you can.  Follow up in a respectful manner.  Develop your listening skills.  As they say, be interested before you try to be interesting.   One of my favourite sayings is “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t know yet.”

In a nutshell – be a nice person.  Take advantage of every opportunity you can to be spotlighted.  I know that’s not easy for many people, but neither is it easy to be the best kept secret in your industry.  

Being a steam roller doesn’t endear you to anyone.  Neither does being a wallflower.  Aim for somewhere in the centre.  The effort you put in will determine your ROI. 

Effective networking done for the right reasons will serve you very well.  I take great joy in teaching the realities of this subject.  In the last 12 years, I’ve seen a countless number of women build their connections, build their business and frankly build themselves.  Embrace purposeful networking.  In my opinion there is no better marketing tool available.  This IS within your control.

I’ve observed a lot I’m always happy to chat about networking with purpose!  It’s a joy for me to share my experience.

Marlene Marco

Marlene is the Creator & Leader of the highly successful Heart of Networking organization!  She describes herself as a “Connector of People and a Creator of Opportunities”! 

One of her greatest joys is to facilitate the connections that business owners need to move their business forward.   Virtual Heart of Networking events are held monthly as are special training opportunities at a monthly “Next Level Workshop”.  Unique, quarterly in-person events round out the calendar.

She has been an entrepreneur her entire career, so Marlene speaks from firsthand experience.  Helping others succeed IS her passion – whether it is through networking connections, educating or creating a spotlight.  All members are given opportunities to shine.

Marlene has been in the effective business networking space since 2005 and created Heart of Networking in 2012.

Marlene was named the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade 2018 Business Person of the Year and is very involved in the local business community.

She is honoured to chair 100 Women Who Care Ajax, Pickering, Whitby and gladly devotes her volunteer time to help this stellar organization continue their worthwhile work in the community.


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