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If you’re a DI broker, life insurance agent or financial planner, one of the most important activities you can undertake to generate quality insurance referrals is to build relationships via networking.

However, it’s important to remember that successful networking is more than just meeting people and exchanging business cards. While most insurance professionals already know the importance of networking, most don’t go about it correctly to effectively build relationships to generate the quality of referrals they’re looking for. 

Maximize Opportunities

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to view networking as something to do — a task — rather than an opportunity. The second mistake is to view networking as a chance to “get,” rather than a chance to give.

You’ve heard it before; people do business with people they know, like, and trust. People don’t naturally trust people who try to sell them. Therefore, it’s best to set your sales pitch aside and genuinely connect with those you meet. Learn as much as you can about others (listen more than you talk) and think of how you can be helpful. The goal is to expand your network, and then to let the people within your network help you expand it even more. In a way, they become your personal sales force, advocating your products and services.

Consider the following relationship-building strategies at your next networking event:

  • Arrive early and stay late. Once the party gets started, it can be challenging to make an effective personal connection. Use this prime opportunity to go beyond a simple business card exchange and ask them about their line of business. They’ll naturally take the lead and ask you about yours.  
  • Follow-up, Follow-up.  As you’re engaging with others, ask yourself how you can effectively follow-up with anyone you come in contact with. If you meet a local business owner, plan to visit his establishment to build trust. The next time you are in the area, stop in and say hello and drop off some helpful information.
  • Bring value. Earn the right to ask for referrals by first doing something for them. What industry are they in? What community projects are they passionate about? Look for ways to connect by delivering or emailing something of value that’s relevant to their industry.  It can be an article, a copy of your newsletter, or a link to a community event or non-profit organization that you’re both interested in. Allow your helpful actions to sell you.

Networking to generate quality referrals isn’t an option; it is a necessity. It means casting a wide net that may include potential competitors. Yes, you heard that correctly. Potential competitors, such as an agent who only works with P&C can be a great resource for referrals. Even another life and DI agent who has limited markets can turn into a lucrative stream of referral business. You’ll discover that by building relationships with some potential competitors, you’ll develop some win-win referral opportunities that you never would have had otherwise.

The biggest secret to remember is: Givers get.

You don’t just take from your network—you also give to it. The more you give and invest in your network relationships, the more you’ll get back – in the form of new business and referrals.

It’s time to put your network to work!

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