12 Tips for Leveraging Networking Events for Your Insurance Agency

2024-03-06T17:23:45-05:00February 23rd, 2024|Customer Experience, Work Processes|

Tips for Leveraging Networking Events for your Agency

by Agent and Insurance Agency Optimization Co-Founder and Head Coach, Scott Grates

Everyone at a networking event knows everyone else there is looking for something: a transaction.

They are there to convert casual connections to customers. If you’ve been to one of these types of events or had a conversation with someone trying to subtly sell you something, you know exactly how that feels: you brace yourself for a conversation with someone who doesn’t see you at all. They only see their need and a dollar sign over your head.  It makes even non-business-related dialogue feel awkward and unnatural.

But that isn’t the Referrals Without Asking approach. We believe in bringing value to others without counting on a return.

It seems unlikely, but it works.

That’s not to say the Law of Reciprocity is foolproof. As with anything else I’ve tried, I experienced both wins and losses along the way in developing this system.

To be honest, I was often tempted to abandon my ideas, even though they were working. Traditional marketing is appealing because, first of all, those with deep pockets make it look easy, and secondly, there is the potential for immediate results. Mail 5,000 direct mail pieces; you could snag 50 new prospects within 24 hours.

What I recommend is a long-term, human-centered approach to small business marketing.

You can’t check your numbers daily, or you’ll go crazy. With relationship marketing, it could take a year of nurturing a single relationship before you get one referral. That’s okay. Just because something may not pay off immediately doesn’t mean that it never will.

What you’re after here are what I call Invisible Results. You cannot see them because they are happening below the surface.

The Chinese parable of the bamboo seed is a great illustration of this. When the seed goes in the ground there are very few visible signs of growth for not just one or two years, but for a full five years. Then its growth is tremendous, growing up to ninety feet tall in just six weeks. The plant can support its height and weight because, for five years, that seed had been growing roots underground to support the growth that was to come.  The unseen, invisible work is what not only sustains the plant’s life but also causes it to grow and thrive.

But Scott, I can’t eat Invisible Results! Invisible Results help me make payroll.


If you’re in this situation, like I was initially, you still need to put some of your time and money into traditional marketing for now. But the key is that it is only for now. Combining that with the lessons in the Referrals Without Asking program (and the program playbook), you will begin to create an exit strategy from the hamster wheel for yourself by simultaneously laying the foundation of your new, improved, value-based future marketing plan.

When it comes to playing it cool and being the “purple cow” (different) at networking events, here are some pointers:

1. Be Genuine and Authentic:

Approach conversations with authenticity. Be yourself, and show a genuine interest in getting to know others. Authenticity builds trust and makes conversations more meaningful. The best way to accomplish this is to a bunch of follow-up questions. The more the other person speaks, the more they like you (because you’re interested in them). “Tell me more about that.” “What sparked your interest in that?” “How long have you been doing that?”

2. Listen Actively:

Practice active listening. Focus on what others are saying, so you can ask appropriate follow-up questions, and show genuine curiosity about their experiences and perspectives. Listening attentively demonstrates respect and interest in the other person.

3. Find Common Ground:

Identify common interests or experiences that you share with others. Whether it’s a shared industry, hobbies, or mutual connections, finding common ground creates a natural connection and makes conversations more enjoyable.

4. Offer Help or Support:

Instead of immediately seeking something for yourself, express a willingness to help or support others. Offer assistance, share resources, or provide insights that could be beneficial to them. Ask what they need to take their business to the next level. This generosity fosters a positive impression.

5. Avoid Being Overly Transactional:

While networking is about creating opportunities, avoid being overly transactional or focused solely on what you can gain. Build relationships first, and opportunities may naturally arise as a result of genuine connections. Ask for NOTHING!

6. Introduce Yourself Effectively:

Craft a concise and engaging introduction. Communicate who you are, what you do, and your interests. Be mindful of the other person’s time and aim for a brief, memorable introduction. Also, be creative and grab their attention. My go-to is “My name is Scott Grates. Insurance agent is what I do, but it’s not who I am.” I pause here to see their reaction or if they ask the follow-up “Who are you then?” Either way, I proceed with “I’m in the relationship business. My goal is to connect like-minded people so we can all help one another.”

7. Be Mindful of Body Language:

Pay attention to non-verbal cues and body language. Maintain good posture, make eye contact, and exhibit open and friendly gestures. Positive body language contributes to a more approachable and comfortable interaction.

8. Diversify Your Conversations:

Don’t limit yourself to talking only to people who may directly benefit your goals. Diversify your conversations and connect with individuals from various backgrounds and roles. You never know where valuable connections may emerge.

9. Follow Up with Sincere Interest:

After the event, follow up with those you’ve connected with. Express appreciation for the conversation, reference specific points discussed, and express a sincere interest in continuing the relationship. Personalized follow-ups demonstrate genuine interest. A handwritten card is the most sincere follow-up.

10. Be Mindful of Time:

Respect others’ time during conversations. If the event has time constraints, be mindful of keeping discussions concise. If the conversation is flowing naturally and time allows, you can always suggest continuing it at a later time.

11. Attend with a Positive Attitude:

Approach networking events with a positive attitude. Positivity is contagious, and people are more likely to remember and enjoy conversations with individuals who exude positive energy.

12. Have a Goal Beyond Self-Interest:

Set a goal for the networking event beyond your self-interest. This could be learning from others, making new connections, or contributing positively to the event. A broader goal helps shift the focus from personal gain to mutual benefit.

Remember that networking is about building relationships, and genuine connections are more likely to lead to mutually beneficial opportunities over time. By approaching networking events with authenticity and a focus on others, you can establish meaningful connections without coming across as awkward or self-serving.

And don’t forget the Law of Reciprocity—when you serve others while asking for nothing in return, you receive everything in return.

Is your agency optimized?

Are you consistently:

  • Connecting with key community influencers
  • Posting on social media
  • Having team meetings
  • Holding your team accountable
  • Staying on top of industry updates

You know what to do; you just need a hand. That’s where we come in.

> Schedule a demo now!

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