Networking is often associated with career advancement. However, insurance agents who effectively network within and outside their industry can create a circle of contacts that may make the difference in whether their business is successful or not in this competitive environment.
As business professionals, we’ve read or heard a speaker talk about the importance of constant networking. Unfortunately, day-to-day operations often get in the way, and as a result we fail to pick up the phone to introduce ourselves to the new banker who has recently joined our bank or the new attorney at the local law firm. The contact does not always mean that the person will become a part of your network, but it is a fair assumption that they won’t if you are not proactive in contacting them. A more passive approach to building a network is attending local business events and, of course, attending insurance industry events.
Networking Best Practices
The benefits of networking are numerous and extend beyond obtaining guidance, receiving advice, generating referrals and increasing sales. Regular networking can open the door to joint ventures, partnerships, and speaking and writing opportunities. Building a network of like-minded business owners from the insurance industry and other fields provides access to advice on business-related topics and creates a web of connections that you can access when needed. Plus surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting professionals can contribute to your growth as a business owner and may even lead to the formation of personal friendships. Here are a few networking best practices to keep in mind.
- Network With Intention – Don’t approach networking as merely an opportunity to collect contacts and be seen. Set a goal and identify networking opportunities that will help you achieve it.
- Break The Ice – Starting a conversation with a stranger can intimidate even the most confident people. Have an icebreaker in mind such as, “What brings you to this event?”
- Share Your Goals – Speaking up about your goals for attending the event won’t make you appear pushy, and it may help you connect with the right people to help you achieve those goals.
- Aim High – You may feel intimidated to approach someone more senior or well-known at an event, but usually there is very little downside to aiming high (other than a bruised ego).
- Expand Your Network – Don’t limit your connections to those in the self-storage industry. There is considerable value in sharing experiences and learning from professionals in many industries. But keep in mind that the quality of your connections is more important than the quantity.
- Follow Up – If you have a great conversation with someone at a networking event, follow up with a note or email. If you offered to connect that person with someone else, be sure to follow through on that promise.
- Don’t Give Just To Get – Networking shouldn’t be approached in strictly transactional terms. Rather than asking for something in return, build your network for its own sake.
Networking takes time and effort, but the potential rewards for your business and personal growth make it a worthwhile and important endeavor. Your confidence in approaching new people will grow with every interaction, and your business is sure to benefit as a result.
President and CEO