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Straight-talking Zoe's recipe for networking success

PICTURED: Zoe Bennett

CHRISTMAS HASN’T always been the most wonderful time of the year for Zoe Bennett. Her father was brutally murdered in Jamaica eight days before Christmas in 2011.

However, the adopted Midlander has used the lessons she learned from watching Errol F Bennett revitalise his community decades ago to help her provide a roadmap to success for others in the shape of a new book.

Networking Personified: a Straight Talking Guide to Networking Success, penned by the sales and marketing turned all-round business coach, was launched recently at the opulent Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham in the company of colleagues, collaborators and unusually, even potential competitors in the networking arena.

The 83-page book unpacks the tools of the networking trade including why it should be done, how and shattering misconceptions about it. With a nod to her late father, Zoe, below, said: “He taught me the art of people networking.

“Networking is not something that just happens easy, it is something one must nur- ture and look at through a holistic giving approach. Giving of your time, giving of your outlook, giving of your input and giving of your objectiveness. This results in amazing outcomes.”

Well-named, the book captures Zoe’s polite but no holds barred approach to an art as she writes about expressing a keenness to share as well as protect and nurture. It is this interesting mindset that helped Zoe parlay her talents into launching a thriving business of her own, Training Personified. Through it she offers a range of business-related communications skills and personal development training, alongside a host of board level appointments and voluntary positions to pass on the tricks of her trade.

With an increasing roster of speaking engagements calling on her time, Zoe has also taken opportunity to throw the spotlight formally on others by founding the Midlands Business and Community Charity Awards (MBCCA).

The annual event was set up as a non-profit organisation solely to recognise unsung heroes and heroines in the region that make a difference in both the business and general community. “It is a platform where people can gain recognition for the work that they put in and everyone involved with the MBCCA has given either their time or services free of charge,” continued Zoe.

“For me, networking for community isn’t about getting, but more about giving. It is not about being noticed, but allowing others to be seen and recognised. My father showed me that you can strip everything back to basics. He was an expert networker. He didn’t have money but he would utilise the contacts he had to organise events – darts matches, dominoes, cricket – you name it!”

Beginning in his own mother’s front room, Bennett began laying the foundations to rebuild troubled relations between the black community and the police in Preston, Lancashire in the late 1970s. Calling on his own contacts to build trust and co-operation, he showed his young daughter the power of networking.

His efforts grew into the legendary Jalgos Sports and Social Club, which remains to this day. Networking Personified is available from all good bookshops and is garnering expressions of interest from as far afield as the US and Australia.

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