Time, effort, and money: you spend all of these when you head to a conference. What do you receive in return? That really depends on the effort you put in. How can you get the most out of your next insurance conference?
A conference isn't a test, but it is an opportunity. Make sure that you're ready to seize the opportunity to get to know people, try out and ask questions about new products, and learn more about issues that are relevant to your agency. For instance, if you want to upgrade the way that you manage customer data, is there an exhibitor or two who could help? Come prepared with an understanding of the products and backgrounds of exhibitors and presenters so that you can ask the right questions and get the answers that you need.
Are you really ready for the conference? If you are, you'll be there early and be ready to talk to other participants and exhibitors before many other guests arrive. You'll also be prepared to be "on" for a lot of the conference. Yes, give yourself some quiet time in your room, but remember that a conference isn't a vacation; it's a time to work intensively on gathering information and creating connections.
Put Yourself Out There
Don't be shy. According to the Harvard Business Review, "you’re not just networking because you should; you’re doing it because it’s good for your career." Remember that you are valuable and interesting and so are the other people at the conference. Think of a conference as a professional growth opportunity, and see networking as a pathway to new growth possibilities.
According to The Muse, if you feel reluctant to participate, consider that "a great way to maximize your conference experience is to participate in some way—like being a presenter, session facilitator, or committee volunteer." Even if you're just helping out on the day of the conference, this can be a way of connecting to others if that normally makes you feel squeamish.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
It may be cliched, but it's still necessary. There are many people at a conference and many opportunities to introduce yourself. Make sure that you have a concise way of explaining who you are and who your company is so that you can make an impact and easily connect with others to find similar interests. If you have a specific ask, know what that is. For instance, "I'm looking for better communication solutions for our growing insurance business." Clarity is key when it comes to conference interactions.
Be Prepared to Follow Up
The conference isn't over when you go home. Remember to collect contact information, following up with individuals and businesses that could have a positive impact on your insurance agency. Review your notes as well to see if there's anything you need to do to implement what you've learned at your conference.
Are you ready for your next insurance conference? Make it the American Agents Alliance conference. This September event helps you move into fall with a refreshed vision of your insurance agency and its future. Visit our Alliance Convention to learn more.