Do you participate in a good amount of community events? We of course all do it to help support the community and non-profit organizations, but as an insurance agent we all have opportunity to really help almost everyone we meet. For many of us networking events generate a ton of good will but being known as a nice person won’t exactly put food on the table. In this blog we will review the best strategies to be a natural but also intentionally generating opportunity from your networking events.
Defining Success From a Networking Event
As with anything we do, when we start with the end in mind we align our activities to hit our goals. In my experience many agents do not have a certain goal when they attend networking events. It’s more to be seen and hope that we bump into some opportunity. We have learned many times that hope is not a strategy we can depend on. We need to define our intention and success before we set foot into that room. That will help us all move from just seeing our connections and moving out of our comfort zone to meet new people.
Here are a few goals we recommend for networking events:
- Hand out at least 5 business cards (more for longer events)
- Obtain at least 4 business cards back OR connect on LinkedIn if the person doesn’t have cards
- Meet 1 new center of influence to connect with post event
We have to remind ourselves everyone is there to network so handing out cards and meeting new people is why everyone isn’t home eating dinner with their families!
4 Steps to Nailing a Networking Event
There are a few steps in identifying how you will get the most from your networking efforts. We are going to break down the best ways to approach all three phases:
- Pre-Event Process
- 2 Weeks Prior to the Event Process
- During Event Process
- Post Event Process
When you have made the commitment to an event there are several steps you can take to get the awareness and outcome you are looking for. We recommend trying to obtain the following:
- List of attendees and sponsors: Attendees are obviously great BUT don’t forget the sponsors often these are great opportunities for insurance agents. The attendees may be mingling but the sponsors have invested to obtain opportunities. We all want businesses that are investing in growth.
- If you obtain the list, start connecting with them on social media. We recommend Facebook (business page), LinkedIn (personal and business page), Twitter and Instagram. This will help you see the businesses attending and become familiar with what they are interested in and also start the connections with those contacts before the event.
- Once you connect on LinkedIn, spend a bit of time looking at the opportunities you feel are best for the agency. On LinkedIn you can see who you may have in common. Often times many of those connections may be at the same event. This presents an opportunity for you to connect with your connections before the event and ask for an introduction.
- Make sure you block off the date in your calendar. We all have personal items that can pop up but if you block it off and tell your family in advance everyone can honor that date.
- Write a blog on your website and then share it on social media. It’s great to alert the world where you are going. A prospect that is on your list may want to meet you too! Sharing the blog to social media is ideal however if your agency doesn’t have a blog (call us so we can help you with your website) but you can just post on social media!
- Connect with the event organizers on social media, this way when you post you can tag them and they can comment back. Then you are getting in front of all of their connections as well! Win, win!
2 Weeks Before the Event
Now you are getting close to the event, it’s time to stack the deck in your favor!
- Confirm the date, time, and location of the event. You want to be prepared!
- Ask for an updated attendee list and reach out to anyone personally that you want to connect with to ask them for a few moments at the event.
- Make sure you have your materials ready. Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up without business cards. We also recommend a few brochures, breath mints of course, a good pen and notebook to take any notes. Or have your phone handy and make sure it is charged. If you have some small giveaways that fit in your bag, grab them! It’s important to do this 2 weeks in advance in case you need to reorder any materials.
- See if there are any prospects you can meet with before the event in that area. Let’s make sure we maximize time. Maybe there is a client or prospect close to the event you can say hello to while you are in the area.
- Take a final review of the list. Find the people you want to to make sure you connect with.
During the Event
The time is here and networking events can be a ton of fun but remember why you are there. It’s to meet new connections. Work hard to not get stuck in one area with some familiar faces.
- Take the number of cards you want to give away and put them in a separate pocket. That way it’s easy to keep track.
- Confirm your note taking strategy.
- Have a small gift for the event organizers. They rarely get recognized and are a referral source for you!
- Wear your company logo. You will be surprised how quickly people put 2 and 2 together!
- Make sure you take pictures and check in on social media. Your face will be in front of more people who are there or who are also commenting and connecting on the event. Plus it’s great PR for those who didn’t attend.
- Keep track of time, you need to keep moving!
Now that the event is over you have to strike while the iron is hot. Too often we let the stack of cards sit on the desk and get “too busy” to hop on them. Be prepared to follow up!
- Send a follow up email to the coordinators. Send them any photos from the event and thank them for hosting it.
- Email the people who you connected with to set up meetings. If you get no response, try to call them 2 days later.
- Connect with new contacts on social media. This makes it easy and efficient to communicate.
- Research something of value you can connect with them on: Laws changing or new details on a recent claim. You want to find something that spurs the interest in them meeting with you!
You may be thinking “Wow that’s a lot of effort”. It becomes pretty routine when you have a plan. Our biggest asset is our time and when we attend networking events we really need to maximize the agency’s investment and our time. Try this strategy and let us know what you think!