Growing your network can have profound effects on growing your insurance business. The stronger your network, the more opportunity you have to meet new leads. In addition, you can also gain referrals and reviews that draw clients in over time, learn how to improve your sales and marketing, and find partners to take your business to new heights.
Your network can consist of both your:
- Personal Contacts, e.g., family, friends, neighbors, religious organization members, volunteer organization members
- Professional Contacts, e.g., current and former colleagues, clients, vendors, other business professionals both in and outside your industry
Leveraging these networks can be one of the best ways to increase commercial insurance leads. Doing so gives you a head start in the sense that your network can help you find new leads. Without a strong network, you might be doing a bit more legwork and guesswork trying to source quality leads.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best ways to network for insurance agents so you can take advantage of this invaluable resource.
Learning the best ways to network can help you gain new leads. From there, you can turn prospects into clients with an InsurTech platform that enables instant, bindable quotes. Click the link below to learn more.
Best Ways to Network Amongst People You Know
One of the best ways to network is to start with the people you already know. Odds are, there’s untapped potential within your current circles.
For example, a friend or family member may need insurance for their own business or know someone else who does. However, if they aren’t familiar with your business, they won’t turn to you. This is especially true for people who you know personally or professionally but aren’t particularly close to. There is a lot you can do to spread awareness of your services.
Specifically, some of the best ways to network amongst people you already know include:
Being active on social media:
Connect with current contacts on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Even if you don’t think there’s an immediate business benefit, that could still lead to referrals down the road.
“This might seem like overkill to some folks, but it’s important to consider your family members and friends as part of your professional network,” advises FastCompany. The publication adds that by connecting with friends and family on LinkedIn “you will get insight into their unique professional network that you might not have known about otherwise.” As such, you might be able to gain valuable introductions.
Always having business cards ready:
Suppose you’re having dinner with former colleagues from a time before you became an insurance agent. Or maybe you’re catching up with college friends. During these happenings, perhaps someone mentions that they’re getting ready to launch a business or know a friend with a startup. At that point, you want to make it as easy as possible for that contact to think of your services. Always have a business card at the ready and be prepared to suggest how you can be of service.
Offering to help:
Not all networking has to be directly about signing up new clients. Consider the long game. Simply making yourself available as a useful resource, such as sharing useful entrepreneurial advice on social media, can help others think of you down the road. Being helpful and listening to what others need can go a long way toward building trust. In turn, that can be one of the best ways for you to network and gain new leads.
A colleague or other industry professional you help out now may be more willing to refer a potential client to you if they’re unable to take that client on for some reason (e.g. the business is too small or large for their expertise).
“Networking is all about relationships. And good listeners tend to create positive impressions. If you show an interest in other people’s businesses and develop a personal relationship, you’re much more likely to get leads and well-qualified referrals.”Microsoft
How to Do Networking to Gain New Contacts
While your existing network may be strong, perhaps you’d like to expand your circle. Some of the ways to network with new people won’t be the same as existing contacts, and you may have to put more emphasis on building relationships.
To meet new contacts to add to your network, think about both in-person and online interactions.
From local business groups to industry associations to college alumni groups, you can find a variety of organizations that host in-person events. These can be small gatherings all the way up to international conferences.
Some of the best ways to find in-person networking events include:
- Searching the calendars or inquiring about memberships for local business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce
- Browsing event websites like Eventbrite and Meetup
- Looking for networking events on social media; keep your eyes peeled in your news feed for people promoting events like conferences
- Asking professional contacts where they attend networking events
Once you attend these events, you may have to work a bit harder to break the ice. One of the best ways to network in these situations is to set a goal for a number of people you’d like to meet at each event. Then simply introduce yourself, ask about their business, what they’re working on, etc. Keep the focus on them, making them feel valued and respected. You shouldn’t approach this as a way to make a sale, but rather build a relationship.
If you’re not the most outgoing person, you can still succeed by planning ahead what you want to ask and suggesting you exchange business cards after a few minutes of conversation. You can have an exit strategy ready too. If you’re at a conference with a coworker, after five minutes you could tell your new contact you need to check in with your colleague.
Meeting new people at in-person networking events is only half the battle. Part of knowing how to do networking is knowing how to follow-up. You have to continue the conversation so that new contacts can eventually make referrals, become a direct client, or offer some other business guidance.
“Make an offer to meet with them at a specific time to continue your conversation about a shared interest. Try to reconnect with them every few months by emailing an interesting article or industry-related news,” suggests careers website Indeed.
Similar to how you might add current personal and professional contacts on social media, also keep an eye out for new contacts you can add. This can include connecting with people you meet at in-person events, and it can also mean forming new connections directly online.
Some of the best ways to network online include:
- Joining business groups on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook
- Participating in Twitter chats: Social media management platform Buffer offers a guide to this valuable resource.
- Searching for hashtags relevant to your business to find others’ posts. From there, commenting on their content can help you spark new connections where you can start to follow each other.
- Joining discussion boards or answering questions for relevant topics on sites like Reddit or Quora.
“Although the connections might not necessarily be as deeply felt, any one of these forms is just as viable of a source for community. In fact, you might find that online communities serve as a better means of meeting like-minded folks as your interests become more and more niche,” explains ecommerce platform Shopify.
Learning From Networking to Fuel Growth
There’s no one right way in terms of how to do networking, as everyone has their own style. Still, one of the less apparent yet best ways to network is to use your network as a learning opportunity. Focusing too heavily on directly gaining new leads may not be the best way to network; doing so could cause you to miss out on more enlightening information that fuels long-term growth.
“Everyone loves to talk about him or herself, and you never know what you’re going to hear that might be a good new idea. Ask how that person got to where they are now in their career, you might be surprised by the information they give you,” advises Ellis Chase, who served as an advisor for alumni and executive MBA career development at Cornell University.
For example, when talking with other insurance agents, some of the best ways to network include asking questions such as:
- What areas of marketing do you find to be most successful for your business?
- How much time do you spend cultivating new leads?
- What other networking groups are you a part of?
By digging into this information, you may be able to pick up some tips that make you a better networker, a more effective marketer, a more successful salesperson, etc.
Related to learning from others while networking, one of the best ways to network is to seek out others who you can share resources with. Perhaps you’ve met a lawyer at a local business group event. Consider doing a business card swap, where you display the lawyer’s cards in your office and vice versa. That way you can each benefit from each other’s networks.
Finding partners through networking and sharing information with one another can also help improve marketing. If you’re struggling to create blog post content, for instance, you could interview another local business leader about tips for running a successful business. That business leader could then interview you for their blog to expand their content while providing you with exposure to their audience.
“Those businesses with common aims should stick together; they must collaborate and share resources. Brand sharing and benefiting from each other’s proposition will start to take more and more prominence.”Econsultancy.
Turning Networking Leads Into Clients
Following these different ways to network can help you gain more leads for your insurance business, both in the short- and long-term. Once you start to improve your networking and cultivate leads, you want to be able to easily turn those leads into clients.
Using Wheelhouse, an InsurTech platform powered by Talage technology, can help you close clients. When leads visit your website, they can easily get instant, bindable quotes. Helping leads get the information they need efficiently can allow you to focus on building relationships with prospects. Eventually, these new leads can become part of your network, creating a positive cycle, where your network continues to grow.