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Advice for Networking Novices

Is marketing your game, or do you feel awkward when it comes to promoting your insurance agency? If you feel like you're a newbie to the networking world, how can you improve your connections with other agencies and with others in your community? You don't need to stay a networking novice forever: here's how to set yourself on the road from novice to master.

Start With Your Own Network 

If you're terrified of business networking, start by talking to people you already work with and who know you are trustworthy. For instance, if you want to move your business to a new part of town and you're struggling to find space and understand whether it's a good move, ask your existing personal networks for their contacts and connections. According to Entrepreneur, "Initially, your personal connections will vouch for you," making you feel like a trusted, known presence even to those who don't know you at all.

Show Up 

Even if you're nervous about networking, attend an event in your industry. You can do this for practice at first. Just walk around and get the lay of the land. After a while, connect with a few individuals. Attending a convention for insurance agents will give you a lot of information, and if you attend specific networking activities, these will set you up for success in the industry. Come with some specific questions or connections that you hope to get out of the event so you don't feel like you're drifting without purpose.

Get Noticed 

This doesn't mean that you need to wear a funny hat or be the loudest person in the room. Even if you're naturally averse to networking, you can stand out. Before you attend a networking event, think of some engaging questions or interesting content you'd like to share. Consider sharing your successes; those stories can make you stand out in others' minds. For instance, you could be the person who was talking about how to bring emergency awareness to people in your county by collaborating with local emergency preparedness teams.  You don't need to share all of your trade secrets, but sharing the basics can be enough to make an impression.

Create Value For Others 

You consider how you'd like to create value for people who visit your agency, and you can do the same with those whom you connect with in person or online. Instead of always asking, consider how you can help others. According to Small Biz Trends, you should "…be ready to part with whatever they value in exchange for some future potential benefit." This could be information about agency startup or even something as simple as recommendations for software or suppliers. Bringing value to other people will inspire them to help you in return. 

Create a Stronger Social Media Presence 

While it's important to get out of your agency and talk with people, you can also do a lot of networking online. In addition to your website, you should have a personal social media presence and a professional business presence. For instance, you'll need a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook business page. If social media seems overwhelming, go slowly and be strategic about how many types of social media you choose to take on at the same time. Post content on LinkedIn and repost content that others in your field create as well. Actively respond to questions in online venues such as Quora and link back to relevant LinkedIn articles.

Are you looking for an insurance association that will help you increase your public presence and network with your peers in the insurance industry? Talk with American Agents Alliance, and learn more about our Alliance Convention and our many membership benefits.

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