For any insurance producer, effective networking is an essential component to success. c No longer does networking exclusively involve standing in a crowded room of people, meeting and greeting with total strangers, and exchanging numerous business cards. While such traditional networking is still valid and effective, e-networking done via business social networking sites is just as valuable.
Regardless of what anyone thinks about social networking sites, the fact is that they are here to stay. Sure, they’ll evolve over the years and will likely look very different than they do today, but ultimately they’ll still exist. And while purely “social” social networking sites can have a business aspect to them, it’s important for producers to have a strong presence on the tried and true business networking sites (example: LinkedIn).
Why? Because your clients, colleagues, and others look to business networking sites for evidence of your character. For example, when a prospect is thinking about doing business with you, he or she will likely do a social media search for you. Never before did average people have the ability to research anyone or any company they wanted. While in the past background checks were expensive and time-consuming, these days a few mouse clicks and keystrokes can pull up a goldmine of information. That’s why you and your company need to be on business networking sites – and you need to be using the e-networking sites effectively.
The following suggestions will help you become a savvy insurance e-networker with a positive online presence.
Don’t be a contact collector; be a contact cultivator.
The goal of any networking endeavor is to build relationships, not just to collect business cards. E-networking is no different. If you’ve been on any business networking sites, you’ve likely seen people with 500+ connections. At first you may think, “Wow, that person sure knows a lot of people.” But does he or she really know those connections? Or is this person just collecting contacts?
Rather than accepting and sending invitations to anyone, be mindful of whom you connect with. When you do make a connection with someone, look over his or her profile and then add a personal note to the person where you indicate a shared interest, club, affiliation, etc. For example, you could respond to someone by writing, “I see you attended Northwestern University (or are a member of the Miami Business Association, or have a pet beagle…). I have a similar interest in that I (also attended Northwestern…am a member of the Tulsa Business Association….have a dog named Snoopy…etc.). You get the idea. Find a shared interest to build upon that will make you stand out and open the lines for real communication later.
Have a clear purpose.
Many people think they’re going to find prospects from being on social media sites. While you can get business from your online activities, this shouldn’t be your ultimate purpose. Rather, your purpose should be to make people aware of who you are by sharing your expertise.