Ian Jerrum, MD of Searchlight Insurance Training, lays out an eight-point plan of networking tips for UK general insurance
Insurance, the saying goes, is a people business. Getting ahead in a people business means networking. So how can you network more effectively? Here are my top eight networking tips for UK general insurance, although these can be applied in most if not all industries.
1. Remember, time is money
Having lots of contacts is great on a social media platform like LinkedIn. But when it comes to face-to-face meetings, you really need to focus. Too many contacts is as bad as too few if it means you can’t give any of them proper attention. So be selective.
2. Define your priorities
For example, business generation, job seeking, information gathering, identifying partners or suppliers, and keep these priorities in view at all times. Focus on successful people who are effective networkers themselves.
3. Get out there
Put yourself about. Resist the temptation just to talk to people you already know. Think outside the box when choosing events to attend. Get along to your clients’ conferences or dinners, for example.
4. Build relationships gradually
Some people treat networking like sales. That’s a basic error. Build rapport first, then leverage the resulting relationships as and when the opportunity arises.
5. Show an interest
Find a way to make yourself helpful - perhaps with information, an introduction or a recommendation, or even simply by listening. If you’ve helped someone in some other way, they’re far more likely to seek your help in an insurance context.
6. Nail your first impression
Be friendly but professional, go easy on the humour and the food and drink, and don’t start scribbling notes on the back of people’s business cards or hurrying off to talk to someone more interesting!
7. Reflect your audience
Be honest and straightforward, and take your lead from how they behave. Focus on presenting yourself as someone they’ll want to keep in touch with - by showing, not telling!
8. Follow up
It’s important to ‘follow up’ with new contacts and to keep in touch. Received wisdom suggests it takes half a dozen interactions to turn someone you met once into a bona fide contact.
You shouldn’t expect or even want to be ‘friends’ with every contact you make, but that’s not the name of the game. It’s about identifying and seizing opportunities to forge durable and mutually beneficial relationships wherever you can find them.