8 easy ways to leverage your network
The people you know are your ticket to a wealth of new business. But most independent agents don’t effectively leverage these connections. Maybe you don’t ask for referrals because you feel uncomfortable, maybe you don’t make it easy enough for contacts to refer you, or maybe you just aren’t doing all you can to open doors. These 8 strategies will help you mine your existing network for new business in a way that feels professional.
1. Upgrade your sales mindset
Insurance agents are in the business of serving community members, helping them manage risks and feel more secure. In light of this, your service is a favor! It’s something that brings security and peace of mind. This mindset should be at the heart of everything you do as an independent agent.
2. Understand the dynamics of referrals
When friends or colleagues recommend a product or service to us, they save us time, energy and potential headaches. The alternative is blindly searching online or going with a big name. Everyone loves being able to recommend a good business to friends and professional colleagues. Don’t doubt this. It gives them the opportunity to demonstrate that they are caring, helpful and well connected.
3. Give plenty of referrals
Referrals are a two-way street, so it helps to lay some groundwork first. Invite contacts into a mutually beneficial exchange. Ask them if there is a way you can help them grow their business through referrals. Is there a particular line of business they are developing? A specific kind of person they are looking for? You can even join or create a referral networking group.
4. Define clear directives
Agents often miss this and end up thinking referrals don’t bear fruits. When you are fuzzy or vague, people can’t help you. Let them know how many referrals you would like (I would love for you to pass this information on to three people you think would really benefit from professional guidance on how to better manage their business risks). Point them to a web page that clearly spells out your benefits. Give them a time frame so they hustle (I’d love to have three names by Thursday. Thanks!) Clarity always makes it easier for people to fulfill our requests.
5. Open up your network
Did you know the average LinkedIn user has nearly 1,000 contacts? That’s a lot of potential referrals! You don’t need to be wildly active on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks, but do connect with everyone you know. It opens you up to all their contacts. And if you decide to get active on social media, you’ll already have an active growing audience.
6. Get in your clients’ cell phones
Potential referral interactions happen daily for your friends, family and professional contacts. Conversations about insurance are not limited to any one season! They come up in business meetings and personal encounters year-round. So tell them it’s handy to have you on speed dial in case of emergencies.
7. Create a referral program
This not only gets you new potential business, it also engages existing clients and lets you have some fun with them. Be creative! Offer up a $5 Starbucks gift card, a lottery ticket, a $10 Visa gift card or a donation to a cause people care about. Be sure to set a time parameter to give the program some momentum.
8. Make your offering clear
One of the great benefits of being an independent agent is that you have access to a wide range of products so you can satisfy a lot of different client needs. Make sure people know the full scope of your products. Create a one-page in PDF or a web page that lists everything you offer and points to the benefits of working with you. (Not sure what those are? Check out this post.)
Referral-based businesses grow fast because they are powered by people. And doing the right things to get referrals not only generates new business, it also makes your job much more enjoyable.