Networking Tips for Insurance Agents who Hate to Network

Some people are natural net workers. They seem to know everyone—and are never happier than in a big group of people they haven’t met. But for others, networking is a chore—and to be avoided at all costs.

The unfortunate truth for the latter group is that networking can significantly help your career. It can land you new business, strong new connections, and even a new job. Here are a few tips for those who hate network—that just might make it a little easier.

Think about what you can do for them. Networking, whether you’re at an industry event or insurance CE class, will get a lot easier for you if you keep in mind one thing: it’s not about what they can do for you. It’s about what you can do for them.

Think of networking as an opportunity to find ways to help other people—to put two people in touch, or to offer your own professional insight into a problem someone is having. Once you establish your own expertise—and build a relationship with someone based on what you have to offer—you’ll feel much more comfortable asking for a favor, and the other person will be happy to give it.

So many people are uncomfortable with networking because it seems fake—and it’s daunting asking a stranger for a favor. Don’t think about persuading someone to help you—it’s all about you helping them. If you get something important to your career out of the relationship down the road, great—if you don’t, at least you will have gotten the opportunity to meet interesting new people.

Networking is not about favors. The popular advice says that to get a job or land business, you have to network. This is true—but it creates a misconception about timing. When you’re meeting people at a business group or event, you’re not there to get a job or a new client right away. You’re just there to meet people. Once you’ve established a relationship—and this can take a while—you can call in a favor. And the more often you network, the broader the base of people you’ll have to call on. But when you’re actually in the room, meeting the people, the pressure’s off—you’re not there to get strangers to do favors for you.

You don’t have to network in person. Some of the most effective networking can be done online. Take LinkedIn, for example—where people can see all your most interesting career highlights in a click. You can network on LinkedIn by joining the professional forums or writing positive reviews, unasked, for people you’re already connected to. They’ll likely be appreciative and want to return the favor. Blogging can connect you with other bloggers—and help you meet important people in your industry. And joining industry forums can be a key part of your networking strategy.
Not all networking has to be done face-to-face.

One way you can get out there without leaving the house is by trying Network Roulette at Brazen Careerist. This program puts professionals together in an online environment where you’re “introduced” to a new participant every five minutes or so. You can chat online, make connections, and get emails to follow up later—all without having to go out and mingle in public.

You don’t have to be the life of the party. Many people with a more introverted bent believe that they have to be charismatic, dynamic, and extroverted to succeed at networking. Nothing is farther from the truth. While those true extroverts easily stand out at parties and events, they’re not necessarily making real, genuine connections. That’s what introverts excel at—thoughtful, one-on-one discussions that can lead to more substantial relationships. To make these types of connections, you don’t have to be funny, loud, or outgoing. But you do have to be genuinely interested in other people. So if the thought of having to pretend to be an extrovert or come up with something witty to say stresses you out, relax—it’s not necessary.

Networking doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Think of networking as a way to start relationships that will ultimately be a long-term investment. You don’t ask for anything right away—although you should be thinking about ways to help the other people you meet. You don’t have to be the life of the party—just take an interest in other people and what they do. You won’t forge a strong connection with everyone you meet—but you will start relationships that may pay off in the future.

This entry was posted in Insurance. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.