September 21, 2010
Insurance brokers have an abundance of events they can choose to attend each week. And whether it’s an educational or social event, the opportunity to increase your network should not be forgotten.
“Networking is an important skill for successful brokers to cultivate,” says Peter Burns, president-elect at Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). “If one has networked properly over the years, they will have developed a community of support mechanisms that they can call on if needed.”
Burns suggests brokers should develop connections with insureds, insurers, suppliers, politicians and regulators whenever possible to manage and grow their sphere of influence and support. “It is also important to remember to reciprocate and be available for those contacts you have developed,” he adds.
Today’s events are no longer the “old boy” gatherings where everyone knows each other. Now, with young brokers entering the scene there are more chances to make a new connection.
“When brokers attend events they should prepare beforehand by thinking about who will be attending, what their issues could be and how you can help them with those issues,” says Burns. “Young brokers in particular have to remember that industry events should not be treated like a Friday night out with the boys. Reputations take a lifetime to build and can be destroyed at one event when caution has been thrown to the wind.”
Additionally, though the art of networking has not changed over the years, the tools being used to be an effective networker have. Advances in technology provide even more opportunities to network and brokers should take advantage of social sites such as facebook and twitter, or electronic communication such as e-mail, advises Burns.
Lastly, Burns offers these tips to all, whether an expert or newbie in the industry. “To be successful in this business, a broker needs to be a good communicator. The most essential skill in communication is the ability to listen and absorb another individual’s point of view. Although you may have specific opinions on certain topics, remember to hold those views until an appropriate opportunity to share presents itself.
“Finally, take a moment to debrief after a networking opportunity. This can be done mentally or in a journal. If possible, send notes to people you have met; this will assist them to remember you and perhaps give you another opportunity to communicate.”
This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.