Networking is essential to advancing your career and growing your insurance business. These days, however, most of our usual meet-and-greet opportunities – including our beloved insurance conferences – are shut down due to social distancing requirements. Since none of us know when state and local authorities will lift these restrictions, the question becomes, Is it still possible to network effectively?
The good news is: yes, it is! But it does require us to more intentional in our networking – and to get a little more creative, as well. So while we stay a healthy 6 feet apart, here are 6 ways to connect with other insurance professionals.
#1 Social Media
In case you haven’t noticed, social media isn’t just for sharing cat videos and tracking down former high school classmates anymore. But seriously, social media is a great way to expand your professional network far beyond your geographic area and even your sector of the insurance industry. While LinkedIn still holds the top spot for “serious, professional use,” other platforms are closing the gap. With the wide variety range of platforms available, you’re sure to find the one(s) that work best for you. So get out there and start promoting your personal brand!
#2 Online Groups
While we’re on the topic of social media, don’t overlook the powerful networking opportunities that online discussion groups offer. Here’s where Facebook really comes into its own. They were among the first to offer the group community option, and thus still offer the widest range of groups. But, again, other platforms are getting in on the action. This includes a wide range of messaging platforms like Slack, Whatsapp, Reddit, and more.
Does your company have a mentoring program? If so, joining it can be a great way to make new connections. Even if there’s not an organized program, you can still make your availability known to your colleagues. Additionally, check with any professional associations where you are a member. You can also reach out to colleges and universities offering insurance degrees and to academic fraternities like Gamma Iota Sigma. The mentor/mentee relationship offers a perfect opportunity for both parties to expand and diversify their connections.
#4 Webinars & Virtual Conferences
Traditional insurance conferences may be out for the time being, but that’s led to a proliferation of webinar offerings. (Hey, it’s why Spot On Insurance started its webinar series, Compliance Conversations!) A number of key industry events are also making the transition to the virtual realm. These events provide not only the opportunity to interact with insurance professionals in real-time, they’re also a great way to meet new people. Watch the Q&A and Chat feeds for names, and be sure to follow-up with interesting panelists and speakers afterward to continue the conversation.
#5 Podcasts & Blogs
Hold on, I hear you say, I can buy webinars and virtual conferences, but podcasts and blogs? How’s that a networking opportunity? While these formats often don’t offer real-time interaction, they are still a great way to meet people from other sectors of our industry. Check out the Comments for an intriguing podcast or blog post. Pose a question, and get a dialogue started. Additionally, just as with panelists and speakers, you can always reach out to hosts, guests, and authors to learn more and start relationships.
#6 Work Your Network
Finally, don’t forget about reaching out to your existing network! Re-connect with people you might have lost touch with. Take the opportunity to deepen your more one-purpose relationships by genuinely engaging with people who might be at a tangent to your own area of expertise. Who knows, you might find the next stop on your career path! And lastly, don’t hesitate to ask long-time connections to introduce you to new people from their networks. Before you know it, you’ll be networking like you got a prime booth location at RIMS!