Building a strong professional network is crucial for success in the insurance sector. Being able to make connections with other insurance industry experts will broaden your knowledge base while also providing you with new opportunities, partnerships and referrals. With proper networking approaches, you can continue to grow as an agent, and keep up with the latest industry trends. Additionally, you and your colleagues will be able to share your best practices and ideas with one another. Agents that keep to themselves will only go so far, but agents who are willing to engage with the community and socialize with others, will create lasting relationships that add great value to their professional career. Throughout this article we will take a look at several useful tactics that agents can use to grow their network of industry peers and create mutually beneficial relationships.
What is Networking?
Simply put, networking is defined as the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. What does this mean for an insurance agent? Well, as an agent, networking means involving yourself in organizations, conferences, online communities such as groups or social media, clubs or any other network of professionals that you can find. The goal is essentially to meet other people who are involved in the same or similar career as yourself, so that down the line both parties can use the relationship in a beneficial way. Have you ever heard the expression, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours?” Well that’s exactly what networking yields. Whether it leads to new client opportunities, a more efficient way of operating or anything else, the point is you’ll be able to advance your position because of your network of connections.
1.Attend Industry Conferences and Events
A great way to connect with other professionals in the insurance field is to attend industry events and conferences. Conferences and events are the perfect networking opportunity, as they provide one place where hundreds or thousands of insurance professionals will be present at the same time. In fact, the main reason that people attend these events are for networking purposes, so when you go, be ready to shake some hands and take some notes. It will also greatly benefit you to have business cards on hand.
In addition to being able to connect and learn from the peers you meet at conferences, there are also usually educational seminars and speeches that are held, where you can learn new industry insights. When approaching individuals at these events, be sure that you are engaged, show genuine interest and ask thoughtful questions. After the events, be sure that you follow up with the connections that you made within the next few days.
2.Establish a Presence Online
In order to maximize your professional network, you’ll want to be sure to have a presence online. For agents, social media and your own professional website are some of the most important networking tools.
Social media platforms are powerful tools that will help you connect with other insurance agents. Though there are a variety of social platforms, all of which can be useful in their own ways, for insurance, LinkedIn and Facebook should be focused on the most. For Facebook, make sure to establish a separate account that is solely for your profession and not your personal life. Just maintaining an account won’t be enough though. You need to actively engage in insurance-related discussions. Some ways to do this are by joining groups related to your industry niche. On LinkedIn there is even an article writing platform, where you can write and post about relevant industry topics.
If you are unsure about what content to post, you can start by simply interacting with others in these groups, by commenting, replying or direct messaging. Once you get more comfortable, you should begin to start posting discussion topics or industry news, to establish yourself among others as an insurance expert. By being a part of these communities, you will be able to develop online relationships to help you succeed.
In addition to establishing yourself in social media communities, it’s important to have your own professional website. This will be a place where you can showcase your expertise and professional background. You’ll want to make sure that all of your contact information is present and that the website is easy to navigate. Additionally, your personal website should focus on attracting new clients. With that in mind, it will be worthwhile to include an FAQ page. This website will serve as the first point of contact for many of your leads, so make it visually appealing and let it do the work for you!
Always be on the lookout for associations and organizations that are specific to the insurance industry. These groups, which often require memberships, can provide you with a vast network of other professionals who have common interests, goals and careers. A good place to start is by researching insurance-related organizations in your area. One example is the National Association of Insurance Agents. While some of these groups are on a national level, there are usually local chapters and meet-ups. If you want to find niche groups, start by thinking about what skills you want to learn or specific interests that you have. These organizations will foster new ideas, and can create impactful connections such as mentorships.
4.Engage with Your Community
Another great way to expand your network is to look to your local community. Try looking into local business organizations, or community-centered events. Attend these events as often as possible, and while attending, be sure to engage in conversations and provided activities. As an agent, your main purpose at these events is to socialize and get your name out there. With that said, make sure that you ask others about themselves and their role in the community.
You can also engage with your community by volunteering. This will show how much you truly care about the community, while also allowing you to connect with other community members. If you’re hesitant to volunteer alone, try to get others from your agency to join you, or suggest the idea to upper management. Similarly, you could also make donations to local charities. While the main point of volunteering is to help your surrounding area, there’s also a high likelihood of meeting some great people along the way!
5.Find A Mentor
Mentorship can be a very valuable tool for any insurance agent, but specifically less experienced ones. A mentor is an experienced member of the community who is able to support and guide you on your path to success, so you can thrive in the industry. When searching for a mentor, first take a look at yourself and identify the areas in which you wish to improve upon. Then try to identify an individual who possesses those qualities.
Some great places to look for a mentor include social media platforms, industry events, and professional associations. When you decide to reach out to an individual to ask for mentorship, approach them with admiration and respect before expressing your desire to learn from them. Once you are part of a mentorship, a wise practice is for you and the mentor to establish some initial goals. This will make sure that the mentor is aware of what you’re hoping to gain from the relationship. Keep in mind that a mentorship is not one-sided. You must be willing to learn, make changes and take criticism. While it may be uncomfortable at points, just remember that it is going to make you into a more well-rounded insurance agent.
6.Keep Up with Existing Relationships
While it’s great to meet new people and expand your network through local and online communities, you should also actively maintain the relationships you already have. Whether it’s current clients, or other agents and insurance professionals, these connections are valuable on many fronts. Existing relationships can produce new client leads, job opportunities, and industry insights, all of which can help you to grow your business. When it comes to current clients, identify the ones who you have the best relationships with and try to connect with them every few months, even if it’s simply to check in.
To learn more about consumer needs, ask them what is lacking from your services. To encourage referrals, incentivize them with a gift or reward. When talking with other professionals, always ask if there’s anything you can help them with before asking for help yourself. This will show them that you are trustworthy and truly want to foster a productive relationship. In turn, they’ll be more willing to help you during a time of need.
In order to grow your knowledge, increase your opportunities and succeed in the insurance world, learning to network with other insurance experts is crucial. By joining professional associations, going to industry events and conferences, having an online presence, seeking mentorship, and engaging with your community, you’ll be able to establish meaningful connections. When approaching networking, it’s vital that you have an open-mind and actively engage in meaningful conversations. You want to show others your value, so that they will want to reciprocate and show you theirs.
With a strong network established, you’ll want to stay in touch on a regular basis and offer others help when possible. Like any professional tool, building your network is an investment (of time). The difference is, with a network, you can determine how helpful it is to you, depending on how much effort you put in. So get out there, start shaking hands, hand out business cards and have conversations. You never know what the next person could do for you.
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