The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

Face‐to‐face networking at industry events is still one of the best ways to establish relationships from which business may well flow, particularly in the insurance world. At the end of the day, people still buy people. Networking opportunities are frequently missed because people either don’t know how to overcome their worries about talking to strangers, or go into high‐powered selling‐mode.

Walking into a room full of strangers is a daunting prospect even for the most experienced of insurance professionals. You know you have to meet people, make new contacts, network, yet the sight of all these unknown faces in a room already arranged happily into pairs and groups clutching their coffee cups can make you want to turn round, huddle in a corner and spend this valuable time tweeting on your BlackBerry.

Preparation is the key to networking successfully at a seminar or exhibition. Sending delegates to an industry conference, especially overseas, is a considerable expense. The cost is higher still for firms or entities that set‐up stalls or host a reception. This outlay is an investment and should be repaid by the additional work that is generated. Wafting around a room hoping to bump into someone significant, or talking to friends and contacts you already know, isn’t going to cut it. To ensure you get a bang from your buck, conference attendees need a plan.

Who is going to be there? Get hold of a list of exhibitors, speakers and attendees. Identify who you would like to meet and set yourself a reasonable target. If you are attending a reception, for example, aim to meet four or five people during the evening.

While it can sometimes be important just to be seen around at industry events, to remind people who you are, reconnect with contacts and meet colleagues based abroad, establishing an objective of meeting a set number of new people from companies you don’t yet work with, or from markets where you don’t yet have a presence, is a very good way of getting a constructive and concrete measure of success from event attendance.