Networking is key in any industry. Building relationships among colleagues and establishing yourself as a professional is a great way to create potential partnerships and stay afloat in the ever-growing insurance industry.
Networking can be stressful, especially for introverts, but you may find yourself holding invites to various conferences, seminars, and mixers where you are expected to mingle with other agents or potential partners. These are our top 10 networking tips for insurance agents:
- Good Introductions – There are several parts to a good introduction. A strong, firm handshake gives off a powerful yet trustworthy image, a clear voice emulates confidence, and stating your name and title is not only informative but also welcoming. Those three actions alone will have people making good judgments about you in seconds. It’s important to not be too aggressive, but not too shy either. One helpful idea is to prepare an “elevator pitch.” Have you ever met someone in an elevator and had 30 seconds or less to tell them what you do? That’s what you should be prepared to offer when first meeting someone at a networking event. You can add more details later, but start out with a quick description of where you’re from, where you are now, and what you do for a living.
- Remember Names – When someone introduces himself to you, repeat his name back to him and find natural ways to work it into the conversation. If it helps, come up with a word to associate with his name so you won’t forget. This will help you with name-face recognition later when you’re trying to remember all the people you met. It will also prevent an awkward encounter later in the event when you find yourself speaking to the same person.
- Ask Questions and Act Interested – Chances are that every single person in that room can help you in some way, even if it’s just adding a familiar face to your industry. Even if you don’t see yourself speaking with that person ever again, make an effort to engage in conversation, ask questions, and keep a natural smile on your face to show interest. Consider preparing a small list of basic questions ahead of time that you can use if the conversation starts to fail. Think about questions like, “Where are you from?” or “What brings you to (insert city)?” It doesn’t always have to be insurance-related to stay interesting!
- Bring A Friend– If you’re introverted and the idea of networking sounds like your own personal nightmare, bring someone with you! Whether it’s your significant other or a friend in the industry, it’ll make walking in the door a lot easier. Even if you don’t stand next to each other for the whole event, it’ll make it easier for you to get started. Introducing someone else is the perfect icebreaker for you.
- Connect Others – If you’re extroverted but need help making introductions, look for the wallflowers in the room. They’re probably going to make less of an effort to speak to other people, so you can both benefit by finding a person to latch on to throughout the night. That way, you’re more likely to make a true, good connection instead of shaking 100 hands and forgetting 100 names. Additionally, use your “wallflower,” or your wingman if you brought one, to connect other people. It’s a power move; it improves your credentials. If you’re standing next to someone who has a great social media following and you have a friend who doesn’t know what Twitter is, introduce those people to each other. Both of those people will likely remember who connected them.
- Take Notes – Business cards have an additional purpose – note taking. Immediately after meeting someone, turn around and jot down some quick notes about what you talked about and how you think the relationship will progress. Is it someone you should email when you get home? Someone you should connect with someone else? In the moment you might think you’ll remember, but after meeting several others at the event, names and faces may start to blur together.
- Meet The Organizers – In a room full of 100 people, you won’t be able to shake 100 hands. Sometimes the best hand to shake is that of the person who organized the event. Thank them for putting their event together, and ask a question or two about what they do. They probably organized the event in the hopes of forming connections themselves, and you can be one of the brave and thoughtful ones who target the organizer.
- Be Memorable – As difficult as it will be for you to remember everyone you meet, everyone else will have the same problem remembering you. Come with at least 50 business cards, and consider even keeping more than that in your car, even if you only plan on handing out 20. Make those business cards creative – even consider writing the name of the event on the cards you hand out to help others remember where they met you. If your card looks the same as everyone else’s, it’s more likely to end up at the bottom of a stack of papers in some dark office corner. If your card is bright, colorful, and different, it might move to the top of that stack. Show your personality in your conversation and your handouts, and you’ll be making valuable connections in minutes.
- Follow Up – In 2017, following up with people means more than quick emails. Follow your new connections on social media, connect with them on LinkedIn, do all you can to show your interest and make sure they see more of your face and name.
- Enjoy It – Sometimes just acting interested and following up later isn’t enough. If you don’t let yourself enjoy networking events, it’ll probably show on your face no matter how hard you try to fake a smile. Think of it as not only a professional opportunity, but also a chance to go out and talk to people! It’s a chance to brag about your successes and talk about an industry that you enjoy working in.
Now go out and use our networking tips to make some awesome connections! Even if the people you meet can’t directly help you or you can’t directly help them, it will never hurt you to know more people. We are in an incredibly connected world, and it’s impossible to successfully fight that in 2017.