HOW TO NOT SUCK AT NETWORKING
Agent networking is crucial in the insurance industry. The benefits of networking can greatly enhance your career prospects, whether it is so that you can get to know people or make business connections. Due to the fact that so many attendees are trying to make sales pitches or engage in overbearing business conversations, networking events can prove to be boring, despite their importance. Still, it is best for you to meet as many people as possible as an insurance agent since the more people you know, the more people you will be able to sell to.
HAVE CLEARLY-SET GOALS
It is helpful to have certain goals in mind prior to attending a networking event as an insurance agent or any other business-related event.Keep your goals small and easily attainable. Maybe set out to create 5-8 meaningful connections with whom you feel confident you can continue a conversation with after the event whether it be in person or via social media. If you set goals that allow you to focus on getting to know people rather than thinking about nothing more than selling, you will be able to maximize your sales potential in the long run.
USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
If you're intimidated to walk into a room filled with strange faces alone, don't be afraid to ask a friend or colleague to go with you! You can build a massive network of experts if you team up with an employee or a partner. An event for networking by yourself can be an overwhelming experience if you feel like everything has to be done by yourself. People you know can make you feel comfortable and prevent you from feeling bored when you are with them.
DON'T BE LATE...DUH
In your personal life, arriving "fashionably late" to an event may be acceptable, but if you do it at a networking event where you're hoping to make a good impression all around, get there early. Organizers of the event should ALWAYS be on your list of people to connect with at a networking event because they have the inside scoop on other attendees and may be willing to introduce you to other great connections. And the best time to talk to them is BEFORE the event starts. There's never a guarantee that you'll be able to speak with them after the event so arriving early is a must.
DON'T TALK SHOP - TALK PEOPLE
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone in the industry, but insurance isn't always the most exciting topic of conversation, even if it IS the reason you're all at the networking event. The point of the event is to make personal connections that may end up being a great business connection. This means that conversations can briefly touch on what you sell and where, but largely talks should be about getting to know the person, not pitching to them. If you've made a meaningful connection that goes beyond the event, then it will be time to see if you can help each other out business-wise.
SEEK TO CONNECT OTHERS, NOT JUST YOURSELF
This last tip can seem counterintuitive to some people and understandably so. If you've paid to attend a networking event, why should you spend your time there connecting OTHER people to one another? Aside from it simply being good karma, connecting people who seem to be a good fit puts you in a position of influence and it shows that you're not just there to better yourself, but to help others if you can. It also means that you're connected to various circles which could pay off big time in the long run.
FOLLOW UP AND CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
While we may not want to admit it, most of our connection to people these days is online. This means meeting people at an event, even briefly, is an open door to reach out on their social media accounts. Shoot a quick DM to say it was great to meet them and you hope to connect again some time soon. This gets your foot in the door to daily interaction with people on their social profiles which can lead to potential business opportunities at any time.
Ultimately, if you want to get the most out of a networking opportunity, you've got to have a bit of a game plan ahead of time. Simply winging it may not yield the most fruit. Follow these few steps the next time you find yourself in a room filled with other insurance salespeople and you're likely to have a hearty list of promising connections in no time.
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