The “Queen of Networking in Durham Region” is a fitting title for Marlene after spending more than a decade as a professional networker.
“I didn’t set out to be a professional networker, but once I was involved, I realized I had found my calling. I am a connector of people, it’s what inspires me.”
Before running Heart of Networking, Marlene was the Executive Director of another networking group, The Power of Women Exchange and, she successfully ran a Weekenders fashion business for more than twenty years.
Helping women grow their businesses is something that Marlene does with grace and style. For Marlene, it has always been about connection.
“My passion for connecting people began early on in my career. Having been involved in direct sales for many years, I understand the power of connections, but it goes deeper than that. In my role, with Heart of Networking, I want people to use their connections to create future opportunities.”
A natural mentor and teacher, Marlene is known not only for her outstanding business and networking skills but as a speaker, an organizer, a kind soul and someone who actively supports other entrepreneurs. She has always had a weak spot for those that appear to be struggling. When she sees a business owner who is a little shy, afraid to speak up or ask questions she goes out of her way to support them.
“It’s always gratifying when those same people I have supported then step into their power and build the confidence to flourish in their business. I don’t take full credit, but I like to think in some small way I had a hand in their growth.”
Marlene has always believed in exploring every opportunity that comes your way. To some people’s standards, she might be a risk taker, but she considers the more significant risk is to work for someone else rather than for yourself.
“As an entrepreneur, if something doesn’t work out, you take the skills you have learned and find somewhere else to land.”
An active volunteer, in 2015, Marlene joined the committee of 100 Women Who Care. Since then, the group has raised over $80,000 for various charities within the Durham Region. Heart of Networking hosts an annual event in which charities are invited to talk about what they do and the ways that entrepreneurs can get involved.
Marlene is also a member of the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade, and a nominee for Business Person of the year 2018. She is a past board member of CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Professionals), and volunteers yearly for the Parkinson’s Super Walk.
Marlene is also a Nygard Style Direct Stylist and is excited about the future and the future of Heart of Networking.
“Over the years we have tried many things, but we have refined and continue to refine. I think that’s what keeps women coming back and has led to the success of the group.”