It’s been said that networking is an investment in yourself and your business. It takes time, but the payoff can be substantial.
Having a strong network can help you learn about alternative ways to operate or improve your business. It can lead to new relationships – and friendships. It can boost your career and personal growth. And, perhaps most importantly, it can help you open the door to new sales opportunities.
Health Insurance Networking
So, if you want to increase your professional network, what steps should you take? Consider these five ideas:
1. Make the most of your existing contacts.
Think about people you already know. Your family and friends are a great place to start. Depending on your age, those with whom you went to school might be included in your outreach. Your social network connections. Your neighbors. Your cousins, in-laws, or siblings. See what shared interests you have. Find common ground. Arrange a gathering or other get-together (like a coffee meeting) and talk about what you do, what they do, and what you each like – or don’t like – about it. You may be surprised how you can benefit one another.
2. Think about those you don’t know (yet) but want to know.
Beyond those you already have some sort of connection with, develop a list of those you’d like to get to know – and have a reasonable expectation of reaching. These could be people that you are one or two connections away from you on LinkedIn, industry professionals that you could reach through a trade group, alumni association, or industry event, etc. Figure out how you’re connected (or could be) and craft your intro message carefully.
3. Practice small talk. Develop your introduction. Rehearse your pitch.
You know practice makes perfect. That goes for your intro, too. If you rehearse how you plan to introduce yourself to others, it will help you improve. What you have to say may change based on to whom you are talking and the circumstances, but the core should be consistent.
Here’s what you may want to include:
• Start with a simple “hello.”
• Share info about who you are and what you do.
• Discuss what you want to improve, learn, or focus on in the future.
• Talk about how you can help others.
• Go into planned next steps – and how you want to move ahead.
4. Take part in networking events.
Networking events – whether in-person or online – are a fantastic way to expand your professional network. Look for events sponsored by trade groups, business groups (including Chambers of Commerce), EventBrite, school alumni associations, and others. You may find you’re able to reconnect with lost colleagues or friends from the past in addition to building connections with new people.
5. Get involved with professional and other organizations.
Joining and being active in a professional or community organization or association is a fantastic way to build your profile, while also creating an opportunity to expand your network.
Many different types of organizations struggle each year to find event organizers or Board Members to help lead them. If your schedule permits it, consider getting involved. Your school board, church or other religious group, local or regional health insurance trade association, food bank, animal shelter, or other community group may be the perfect fit for your interests. It may offer you rewards you cannot even imagine.
You may also make connections through your pursuit of additional training and education – through a local program, regional, or national program or institution.
Quality Over Quantity
In all of your networking efforts, keep in mind that quality beats quantity. While you might think having more connections increases your potential for a greater network, that is not always the case. You are likely to be much more successful by focusing on a targeted audience. Don’t worry too much on how fast you can build your network. Your slow, steady, and consistent efforts are what is important, and what will help you achieve better results.