A huge 95 percent of people believe face-to-face interactions make or break business relationships. This number shows the importance of networking for building professional connections.
No matter your disposition (i.e., introverted, extraverted), you can't avoid connecting with other insurance agents. To learn invaluable tips on networking in your industry, read this guide.
Accept Networking as More Than a Necessary Evil
Now, you might feel networking is a total nightmare. Maybe you've had a negative experience at networking events in the past. Or, perhaps you're an introvert.
Believe it or not, you can be an introverted insurance agent. How you perceive networking impacts how you approach them. There are a few ways to prep for a networking event, whether you're a social butterfly or not.
- Determine an event's purpose, organizers, and attendees in advance.
- Figure out who you want to meet and greet.
- Find common talking points to break the ice.
These tips for networking events benefit a person who takes action, is curious, and listens well. They'll work for you, too (if you're proactive).
Pro Tip: During the pandemic we recommend following social distancing practices, look for virtual networking events. You can still make connections even if it's virtually.
Find the Why for Your Networking
To make the most of a networking event, focus on the why. What is your reason for being there? Was it by choice or necessity?
If you researched prospective contacts ahead of time, maybe you're looking for new partners. You might also explore networking because you want:
- To stand out to your peers
- To explore career growth opportunities
- To share ideas with like minded agents
- To discover new resources
- To connect with high profile agents
- To build relationships and status
These motives can push you to be more proactive in your networking. You can use one or many of these motives to find your "why" and make the event work for you. Finding this purpose anchors any interaction and keeps your head in the game.
Keep Your Intros Short and Sweet
When you do meet fellow attendees, don't drone on and on about yourself. Meeting other agents isn't just about work. And when you all work in the same field, the last thing you want is to come across as boring.
Make sure to use the classic elevator pitch to introduce yourself. Whether you're talking about yourself or your work, keep it short and sweet. When you provide interesting tidbits, you draw the attention of truly interested persons.
The last thing you want is the attention of people who only listen out of politeness. That's a waste of time and effort when networking.
Off the Clock Doesn't Have to Mean You're Off the Clock
Remember, networking events aren't the only way of connecting with other professionals. You can use networking tips outside of scheduled events if you're proactive.
Reach out to your fellow contacts to set up a social event. Make it casual or upscale, depending on your purpose. Don't be afraid to take advantage of organic opportunities, either.
During the pandemic, you can make these events virtual by using zoom or skype.
After a long day at the office, going out for dinner or drinks can give you natural opportunities to build relationships with other agents. Using these chances can develop your rapport for more structured (and more intimidating) scheduled events.
Go Your Own Way With Conversation Starters
Don't be afraid to start conversations. If you're a go-getter or social butterfly, break that ice. Go your own way by opening others up.
Get the conversation started with some basic icebreakers. Make sure to vary your conversation starters to avoid sounding scripted or unnatural. Remember that these conversations serve to bring you closer to clients and agents, not just closing a sale.
If you're not a social butterfly, icebreakers can save your day. Although it might feel unnatural, finding a few repeat topics to reference can save you any social awkwardness.
Pro Tip: The most important thing to do is getting the conversation started (and then keeping it going).
You Don't (Always) Have to Go It Alone
These tips on networking aren't just for solo interactions. You can bring along a social wingman to bounce ideas off of. It also means you're likely to have a better time.
Bringing a proverbial partner in crime along (i.e., spouse, fellow agent) can keep you relaxed. You'll appear more personable to whoever you meet. You also have a backup to keep the conversation going if you suddenly stall out.
Don't Think of It as Sales but Building Relationships
If you're worried that you don't know enough about insurance sales, tips for networking events can teach you how to learn. These tips show you that sales aren't about profit but people. When you think about insurance, don't think about sales.
Instead, think about these tips on networking. Consider how to connect with agent goals and consumer needs. Prioritize the person you're selling to. When you engage clients and peers, you build relationships.
These relationships give you chances for bigger sales. They also build loyalty and potential for partnership with fellow agents.
Listen for More Than Pain Points or Sales Opportunities
When you listen to your peers at networking events, do so actively. Active listening mostly means staying off of your phone and maintaining eye contact. Follow that up with personal questions showing you listened.
Actively listen for more than sales opportunities. Don't just focus on landing sales with bigger clients. Instead, listen to learn.
Pro Tip: Don't be afraid to ask about sales techniques or past successes from fellow contacts. Use this information to grow your own skills. In turn, your own sales opportunities can grow.
Be There for Them, Not You
When you read these tips on networking, remember that it's not about schmoozing for your own gain. Remember, the people you meet are more than learning opportunities or big contacts.
Instead, focus on how your presence makes the event better for those around you. Don't be afraid to grab the quiet guy in the corner over to meet higher-ranking agents.
Showing this type of camaraderie stands out. And, you might make a new friend or partner this way.
Make Sure to Put Out the Honey
If you want flies, put out honey. This old cliche means you should show your kinder self. Don't come across as desperate or cutthroat.
Instead of letting your competitive side come out in a nasty way, make a game of it. Or, even better, let your peers connect with the higher-ups first so you can watch and learn.
Patience can give you a golden opportunity to prep yourself for tougher interactions. It also comes across as generous to others.
Show Generosity to Anyone You Meet
Although you have the right to be honest about your successes, be humble. If you bring a partner to networking events, make sure they get their time to shine, too. Don't hog the limelight.
Instead, find ways to share stories about mutual successes. Celebrate your fellow agents wins. And, if possible, show gratitude for the inspiration or lesson you learned from their win.
Be Available but Not Desperate
It would help if you were polite when networking, sure. But, you don't have to listen to a 45-minute spiel on someone's recent back pain if you have other people to connect with. Don't be afraid to cut your time short if you other agents monopolize your time.
As much as you don't want to overwhelm people with lengthy intros, you can't afford to be glued to one person's conversation.
Pro Tip: Find kind ways to excuse yourself (e.g., smoke break, grab another drink, use the facilities). This way, you're still available, but not listening to anyone person for too long.
Sell Yourself, Not Just Your Work
Don't be afraid to show yourself at networking events. These networking tips and tricks can benefit you in real life, too.
You don't have to sell your work and how great you are at sales. Share your passions and perhaps what inspires you to sell insurance.
Who knows? Your drive might inspire a new partnership or mentor connection with an influential contact.
Reach Out on Social Media
After networking events, you should reach out on social media. Depending on the context of the connection, this could be on any platform.
For professional contacts, explore LinkedIn. For personal and professional contacts, use Facebook. Sharing personal information can build rapport (as long as it's appropriate).
Look for Chances to Follow Up
Following up with fellow agents is not exclusive to social media. These tips on networking encourage follow up organically, too.
If possible, try a phone call at the minimum. Depending on the connection, set up a work lunch or coffee to communicate even more.
Find Tips on Networking and Other Agent Resources
No matter your personal issues with confidence or social anxiety, these tips on networking can get you started. Connecting with your fellow agents doesn't have to be scary, as long as you're in the right mindset.
Don't think of your fellow agents as mere competition for the best clients. Instead, think of them as potential partners.
To discover other agent resources beyond tips on networking, contact us today. We'll connect you with fellow agents who appreciate interaction as much as you.