Let’s face it, like so many things disrupted by the coronavirus, professional networking today is dramatically different than it was just 14 months ago. Now, when you meet in person, you need to stay six feet apart and wear a mask. There’s no handshaking, although rubbing elbows might be okay. You could consider shaking hands if you immediately break out the hand sanitizer; however, what sort of the signal does that send to your new acquaintance?
Don’t give up! It is possible to build new connections virtually, or while being socially distant.
Update Your Profile First
Before you start your online networking efforts, look at your own online profile. You will want to be sure your information is up to date, and your current LinkedIn and other profiles accurately reflect what you’ve done, who you are, and how you can be reached. Out-of-date information can diminish the effectiveness of your profile. If you have recommendations from former colleagues or business associates on your profile, at least one should be relatively recent.
Consider becoming a part of an online group. On LinkedIn, there are hundreds of insurance-related groups spanning a wide range of segments. You can find groups geographically, by market niche, industry specialty, gender, and other criteria. Some groups have thousands of members, while other include a dozen or fewer members. After joining a group, depending on its member settings, you can reach out to make connections. Login and get started today.
Apart from your participation in online groups, professional organizations like your local, regional, and state health underwriter associations may offer web-based networking opportunities. If you are an active leader in one of these groups, you might discuss with your fellow officers the possibility of launching a cyber-networking event.
When building your network, one of the first steps you may want to consider is reaching out to former colleagues or professional connections. Introduce yourself and be sure to mention how or where you met before, and how much you value their consideration of your LinkedIn request to connect. In rekindling connections, one or two people a month is a good goal.
In reaching out to those you don’t already know or have encountered personally in the past, it’s important to explain why you’re asking to connect. You want your recipients to be comfortable with you and clear about why and how it could benefit you both to connect.
If you successfully make a connection, consider a future online coffee date or end-of-week happy hour (lasting 15 or 20 minutes only, at first) to forge a stronger bond if it seems appropriate.
Prior to 2020, you probably had some familiarity with online meetings and Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, or Google Duo web conferencing. Now, however, after months of virtual meetings, you’re a master, right? Well, maybe not, but it is important that you do what you can to become more comfortable using this technology. Practice, practice, practice.
Use video calls to reach out to friends, colleagues, prospects, clients, or potential new connections. Every use will help you improve. Eventually, you may be so comfortable that you’ll want to organize an online group enrollment or presentation to your local association of health underwriters group. “Seeing” someone, even virtually, helps you connect on a more personal level.
Invest in Yourself
Put yourself out there, and reap the rewards. Building and maintaining connections is an investment in yourself – and your future success. Take the time and make the effort to promote yourself and the value you bring to your profession and your community. It does pay off.
Health Insurance Broker
For a sneak peek at what you can expect to earn as an insurance agent, get a copy of our “Insurance Broker Salary Guide.”