Someone wise once said, “The opposite of networking is NOT working.” Just as we should look at a ringing phone as an opportunity to sell and succeed, we need to consider networking a necessary part of the business.
Building insurance referral relationships can be challenging for even the most experienced networker, whether virtual or in person. If you are new to networking or a natural introvert, this can be 100 times more challenging.
Below we will review simple ways that even the shyest of us can overcome challenges to build the most ridiculously fantastic network for insurance referrals.
It is important to remember that it is impossible to build an effective network overnight and that different types of connections are needed to be truly successful in business. Even if a person is in the same industry, they may become a great referral partner for you.
Finding a way to make each connection particular will help ensure that you will have an excellent addition to your network. These connections could include Mentors, Coaches, Allies, Referral Sources, Existing Clients, and like-minded business professionals.
People do business with people that they Know, Like, and Trust. While consistency is the key to long-lasting relationships, we must remember that different people prefer different types of communication. What works for one person may not work for another.
You will not be an expert networker overnight, but as long as you learn from your mistakes, you will win. Surrounding yourself with those you can relate to, and will make your work day so much better.
O.M.G. : One Main Goal for Insurance Referrals
Set a straightforward goal for yourself before each meeting, event, or conversation with a prospective business partner. “Meet two people in the mortgage business and see what makes each one unique.”
Setting one goal and focusing on it can alleviate the fear of the unknown. Another great goal to attempt is to talk to other insurance agents at an event to see what they specialize in.
Set your goal and stick to it. If you find yourself achieving your plan early in the event, quickly challenge yourself to another goal. Then the next time you attend an event, up your game. When you cannot achieve your goal, don’t give up. Focus, practice, visualize and perform.
Your goal could be as simple as being friendly to someone out of place. Look for the person that is all alone or standing in the corner. Start a simple conversation with them and find out more about them. Then offer to get a snack together or introduce them to someone you might know. A simple act of kindness goes a long way.
“Networking isn’t about collecting contacts. It is about planting relationships.” -Unknown
M.M.M. : Meet. Mingle. Memorize.
When entering a room, smile, make eye contact with people, and be courteous to those greeting you. People tend to watch doorways to see who is entering. You don’t want their first impression of you to be wrong. A huge part of successful networking is managing your actions and expressions. It is also important not to become so involved in a conversation that you do not have time to meet someone new. Take a mental note of the critical points of the discussion or something special about the person you spoke with.
It is of the utmost importance to be well-groomed. Everyone remembers the person who’s hair was messy, whose breath was terrible, clothing was inappropriate or wrinkled. They also remember the person dressed well and looking polished and professional.
By no means does this mean you need to wear a suit or lovely dress if the event doesn’t call for it, but your look should be well put together and free of wrinkles. Also, avoid excess scents such as perfume or cologne.
W.H.A.T. : What…? Tell me more…
Not all conversations need to lead to a sale. Building a connection with someone with similar interests can lead to stronger relationships that are not just sales based.
The best questions are complex, open-ended questions in order to easily elicit more information than a simple “yes” or “no”.
- “What is your greatest accomplishment this year?”
- “What do you do in your free time?”
- “Who is your ideal prospect?”
Most importantly, people love to talk about their passions. The things that bring them joy. They also like it when they get to talk about themselves. Asking these types of questions leads to more effortless conversations.
Associate each person you meet with a personal and professional fact. For example: “Stephen has 20 chickens and works with insurance agencies to help them become ridiculously amazing.” Store these facts for future reference and help accelerate insurance referral opportunities.
When you reach out to a person again in the future, reference something you remembered about them. The more personal the conversation, the more memorable it will be. The more unique you are, the better the relationship will be. When the need arises for your an insurance referral, you want to be top of mind!
V.A.L.U.E. : Volunteer. Align. Listen. Understand. Engage.
Add value to all relationships. Give freely of your time, connections, knowledge, etc., and expect nothing in return. What are you excellent at that they may need help with?
Who do you know that can help solve their problems? Be known as a resource and surround yourself with people who are valued aids as well. Insurance referrals should be a two-way street – you must give to get.
If you are part of a chamber, civic organization, community club, HOA, board of directors, etc., take the time to be involved. Get to know each member of the organization and see what needs are within the group. Volunteer to work the welcome table or registration desk.
This will get you in front of many people in a meaningful way. Keep the conversations simple while checking the person in, then find them later to continue the conversation. It will also help you to put a face to the name and know instantly where they work or what industry they are in.
Volunteer to send out the monthly newsletter or to welcome new members. This also helps with brand recognition. By putting in a little extra effort, you will start to build a network without even knowing it.
“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
S.L.O.W. : Strategic & Logical Often Wins
When you strategically and logically communicate, you can often win the attention and approval of a prospective business referral partner.
There is nothing worse than the promise of a follow-up that never happens. Set realistic expectations and keep true to your word. Set aside time each week on your calendar to follow up with people you just met and to foster the relationships you already have.
Ask for their preferred contact method: email, mail, text, fax, LinkedIn, cell, or office. Adapt to their preference; it’s about them and not you. When connecting, ensure you send a message about a conversation that you want to continue or why you want to connect. Follow up regularly so that you don’t become forgotten.
There is also the age-old tradition of handwritten notes. Think back to the last time you received a handwritten note in the mail. How did it make you feel? Slowing down and taking the time to put a little extra thought and effort into something can go a long way. Make yourself memorable.
Remember to take small steps and try new things regardless of your comfort level with networking. You don’t even have to leave your desk to work on this. The next time you have a great conversation with a client, mortgage lender, or community member, ask for a referral.
Let the person know you enjoy talking to them and would like to work with more people just like them. This will make them feel good. With any luck, the next time someone asks about insurance or needing an insurance referral, they will remember you and your kind words and will send the lead to you. Small tasks can lead to significant rewards.
If you would like to learn more about how to become a ridiculously amazing insurance agent you can check out Agency Performance Partners Online School.
“Be yourself. Be bold. Be Daring. The worst that will happen is that one person may dislike you but ten others will adore you. Build your own tribe. Surround yourself with people you adore.
It makes work so much better. If we all drank tea there would be no Tequila!”
~ Stephen Harrington-Descoteaux