When you're just getting started in the insurance sales business, networking needs to be a part of your growth strategy. If you picture your sphere of influence as a small circle at the beginning of your career, the objective becomes lengthening the radius of that circle until your reach extends to many valuable lead sources.
At first, you'll reach out to family and friends for new business and perhaps get some referrals, too. That's a tried-and-true approach to laying a foundation. But, unless you have 10,000 followers on Instagram, your personal circle is only so big, and most of those people don't pay all that much attention anyway. Social media should be a part of your plan, but you might want to position your business a little differently from your personal pages on those platforms.
So, to visualize the objective with networking, you might start with a circle that's proportionate to an M&M but eventually blow it up into something the size of a beach ball. Don't kid yourself, though. Networking takes time and effort. However, with the right approach you can have referrals coming in from all angles — and having many people recommending your services is one of the best forms of advertising.
To help you on your way, we've laid out nine tips for networking as a new agent. Read on to learn more.
You'll encounter a solid wall of competition in the insurance sales arena. Between fellow brick-and-mortar agents and online channels, it's not too difficult for the average consumer to purchase insurance policies from just about anywhere at any time. Yet, there's value in finding an agent who differentiates themselves and their agencies from these other outlets. Consumers and fellow business owners will always gravitate toward agents who go the extra mile to build relationships and lasting bonds.
The ability to network extensively will help set you apart from competitors. Knowing how to network effectively then becomes the next step. Keep in mind that strengthening ties with customers and other business people isn't as easy as handing out a business card to everyone you shake hands with. It takes sincerity along with additional work and commitment.
When you think about it, interacting and forming ties with people and small business owners in your community is about the most natural thing you can do as a new insurance agent. You can have an office presence with a big sign, but waiting for the phone to ring and hoping for walk-ins won't help build your book. You'll need to establish credibility among your peers, and when other people promote your business, customers will start coming to you.
It's one thing to theorize about networking, and it's quite another thing to put it into practice. Like any other business strategy, you have to make a plan, set goals, execute, and adjust the plan if you're not seeing expected results. Here are nine things you can do to build that network.
Advice you'll hear from managers or peers will definitely include reaching out to friends and family. It's sage advice because there will be no bigger supporters of a newly minted business person than those folks who you hold dear.
As you might imagine, quickly connecting with all your friends and family can be a chore. However, don't be tempted to do it on Facebook or Instagram. These platforms may be labeled "social" but trend toward impersonal. Instead, write some letters or make some phone calls to tell your friends and family about your new venture.
On a regular basis, you do business with someone else. But, some of these folks may not immediately register as potential network partners. You interact with the barista at the coffee shop, the clerk at the grocery, store, and the mail carrier. Don't look exclusively for finance-related people with whom to kindle some relationships. Virtually everybody you cross paths with needs home, auto, and health insurance, and they have their own personal circles you might be able to join.
It seems like every new agent continuously hunts for the proverbial white whale of networking partners. You may have an accountant in mind whom you hope will be a constant source of referrals. After all, these professionals are talking to people about money and finance all the time, right? Therein lies the rub.
Seasoned accountants, attorneys, and financial advisors are all viewed as potentially fantastic networking colleagues, and chances are some other agent may have beaten you to the punch. Don't fret. Target attorneys who've just passed the bar or accountants who've recently hung their own shingle.
Somewhere close to your home sits a group of people having lunch and discussing how they can help each other's businesses. Formal networking groups exist throughout the country, and if you're the first insurance agent to enlist, all the other members commit to sending business your way.
As long as you're fulfilling your obligations to the group, they won't bring another insurance agent inside to duplicate the products and services you offer. So, you have access to all types of small business owners who will scratch your back. You'll just need to scratch theirs in return.
Continuing education requirements vary from state to state, and you'll need to accumulate a prescribed number of "classroom" hours to keep your license active. You can do self-study but why not take the opportunity to attend insurance seminars, conferences, and social events that offer continuing education credits?
Remember — networking isn't solely about getting referrals. As a new agent, you can use these in-person training sessions to tap the expertise of veteran colleagues who can offer advice on marketing, operations, compliance, staffing, and more.
There's no denying the internet and the foothold it has on society, business, and attention spans. You must leverage online platforms to increase your visibility, so use business pages as a means to build and maintain a digital presence.
The internet is so saturated with scams and spoofs that active prospecting through messaging can often be a slog. You can use internet specialists to target highly qualified prospects, but more on that later. Create a vast network of followers while positioning your website to be searchable and positioned highly in Google rankings.
Everybody loves a party. For you, it's a way to meet people in an atmosphere that breaks the ice with new clients and hopefully piques the interest of some future ones. For new agents, budget can be a concern. If you have a fellow business person who will share the expense, that's one way to defray costs. Coffee and pastries can keep the menu simple — and costs manageable.
Keep the list small for your first gathering, but you can also ask invitees to bring one friend or family member. Between both of you as hosts, you'll have some fresh faces to meet and greet.
When people in your market see and hear your name more frequently, they can begin to perceive you as a respected voice in the insurance industry. But when you're a new agent, spending all kinds of money on advertising may be difficult.
Try this: Most local newspapers or trade publications might entertain a short column on insurance tips or trends, and it won't cost you anything to get published. Whether you want to write a short column yourself or use some pre-approved literature from one of your appointed carriers, having people repeatedly encounter you in print or digital media helps you gather an audience and build credibility.
Prospecting is an effort that will connect you with many people. Some will become customers, and some won't. The ones that get away may still have networking value if you position yourself correctly during and after a phone call. Find a way to connect on the call regardless of prospect interest. The topic may be family, sports, vacation spots — whatever helps the prospect remember you in the future.
Second, follow up with a prospect that doesn't buy, and use notes to refer back to your previous conversation. Remember that people's circumstances and emotions change, and their initial barriers to purchase may be broken down or removed entirely.
All these tips will help rapidly expand your circle of influence. Talking to qualified prospects will help you build a bigger book of business. Nectar can help you achieve both goals by supplying you with real-time leads and live transfers that you can talk with immediately or follow up with at the prospect's convenience. Learn more about how Nectar can help boost your sales and build your network faster today.
This article reflects the features of Nectar as of the date of publication. Features are subject to change at any time. This article is meant for informational purposes only, it is not a guarantee that using Nectar will help you achieve specific business or financial results and is not intended to serve as the sole recommendation for any business financial decisions.