The common denominator between successful independent agents is the relationships they have with their customers. It’s hard to stress enough the importance of being plugged into the community and building those relationships. After all, this is what allows agents to consistently generate quality leads and establish a loyal customer base.
A big part of forming these relationships is engaging in in-person outreach. And let’s face it, this is so much easier to do when the weather is good, making the summer and fall months a prime time for connecting. With that said, here are 15 types of events and social outlets perfect for networking during this time of year.
Hyperlocal marketing is a strategy that’s quickly gaining popularity. It involves focusing on a small, geographically restricted area, often just a few blocks or streets, explains Dan Shewen at WordStream. Zeroing in on a small area like this is one of the best strategies for reaching prospects in your location, creating a buzz for your agency. And what better way to connect than by participating in neighborhood celebrations?
Block parties, yard sales, neighborhood walking tours, karaoke parties and bake sales are just a few examples of neighborhood events that are great for networking, according to the team at National Neighborhood Day.
Holiday events are all about people gathering and having meaningful interactions, which makes them ideal for networking, says business writer Stephanie Vozza. There are several specific holidays during the summer and fall that are worth your attention.
Memorial Day in late May, Flag Day in June, Independence Day in early July and Labor Day in early September. These all present excellent opportunities to get out and about and engage with people in your neighborhood.
There’s something about the joyful and carefree nature of parades that helps people relax and puts them in a good mood. And that’s the state of mind you’re looking for when starting conversations and connecting with your community. Rieva Lesonsky, founder of GrowBiz Media, suggests giving away free products like branded t-shirts, tote bags or balloons with your agency’s name on them. This is an easy way to attract prospects and opens the door for mentioning the services you provide as an independent agent.
To find upcoming parades in your area, check out the search feature on Festivals.com.
Speaking of relaxation, it’s hard to be stressed when you’re kicking back having a leisurely picnic. Community picnics can be a great way to meet local people and break down artificial barriers so common at formal networking events. You can mix and mingle over food and cold beverages, getting to know people in the area without having to resort to an elevator pitch.
Networking opportunities take place at local Memorial Day cookouts and picnics, agrees the team at Meador Staffing Services in Houston. Don’t forget business cards you can hand out; and make sure you’ve got your digital card ready on your phone.
Another idea involving food is barbecues, which go hand in hand with warm weather. You can participate in a barbecue fundraiser where your agency provides the hamburgers or you volunteer at the grill.
Or you can aim for larger community barbecue events and festivals where you have the chance to interact with hundreds or even thousands of people. This would be another good opportunity to hand out free branded products. National Barbecue News is an excellent resource for finding barbecue events from all over the country, along with the contact information of event organizers.
One final culinary-related idea is to attend local farmers markets. These pop up all over the country and can have a really nice turnout on the weekends. Here you’ll find lots of people exploring food selections and checking out the local flavor. One idea for bringing attention to your agency is to sponsor a percentage of a vendor’s sales to go to a local food bank. This creates goodwill and may help you segue into conversations about your job as an independent agent.
One of the best resources for finding farmers markets and local food vendors is the National Farmers Market Directory from the United States Department of Agriculture. Just enter your zip code and search radius, and you’ll quickly find all of the local markets in that area, along with their websites.
Libraries are cornerstones of the community and attract a diverse set of people with a wide variety of interests. And many host frequent events, with summer and fall being especially popular times. Everything from workshops and seminars to storytelling to wildlife education happen in libraries.
For instance, you could host a free seminar where you explain the different types of insurance coverage and educate the audience on how to choose the right policies without overspending. To make it more memorable, hand out free smoke detector batteries to those who attend. Just check out the website of your local library branch to find out who you need to contact to host an event.
Gardening clubs not only provide an opportunity to learn about horticulture, they also help connect communities and are the perfect place to befriend your neighbors. It gives you the chance to work alongside locals and get to know them on a personal level. So this is definitely something to consider.
Most cities have some type of gardening club where members meet regularly, especially during the summer and fall months when plants are grown and harvested. There are two main resources you can use to learn about gardening clubs in your area. One is National Garden Clubs, which highlights clubs in all 50 states. The other is the American Horticultural Society, which is a directory featuring gardening societies, clubs and organizations nationwide.
Trash and pollution are problems everywhere. Local cleanups have gathered steam in recent years, and it’s simply a group of volunteers meeting to clean up areas like neighborhood playgrounds and parks.
Not only are local cleanups a great way to minimize pollution and make your city more beautiful, explains wellness writer Gennah Rodriguez, they also allow like-minded people to connect and make a difference within the community. So this is a win-win for independent agents.
“Volunteering creates stronger bonds between friends, family, and coworkers,” says nonprofit expert, Joanne Fritz, Ph.D. “People build closer relationships, better connections, and more powerful attachments to people when they work together.”
So naturally, this is a good choice for getting to know people within your community. Not only does it offer an effective means of networking, but you can make a legitimate difference in somebody’s life. Specific ways to volunteer are limited only to your own interests and passions, but include helping out at animal rescue shelters, food pantries, Habitat for Humanity and retirement homes, writes Angela Colley, personal finance editor at Aspiration’s MakeChange.
Whether it’s at a professional game, an amateur game or even a high school game, there are plenty of networking opportunities at sporting events, says former athletic administrator and football coach, Jarrod Barnes. For example, you could offer free pizza to the winning team or pass out free hats to the first 50 people who enter the stadium.
This isn’t always on everyone’s radar, but it gives you the chance to rally around local teams and build relationships in a fun, relaxed setting.
Sports Teams or Leagues
If you enjoy playing sports yourself, you could always join a team or league in your area. There are baseball and softball teams, soccer teams and shuffleboard leagues just to name a few. Besides the obvious networking opportunities this presents, it’s also a great way to get in better shape, stay active and lower stress, writes Mackenzie Bender, PR and communications manager at Spooky Nook Sports, a Pennsylvania-based sports complex.
If you’re looking for a good way to quickly get to know people and establish nearly instant camaraderie, there’s nothing better than joining a hiking club, say marketer Melanie Ott. Interesting conversations and storytelling are inevitable on outdoor excursions, she adds, making it the perfect way to enjoy warm weather and build relationships.
Outdoor Photography Clubs
Photography is one of the more popular hobbies among Americans. It’s an accessible hobby that develops skills, allows exploration and a new way of looking at things (literally). Joining a local outdoor photography club is yet another way to network and find potential insurance leads.
After getting to know the other members, you could mention your career as an independent agent and offer advice to anyone who’s interested in getting insurance coverage for their camera equipment. Finance and insurance writer Virginia Hamill says photographers can benefit from equipment coverage (also known as an equipment floater), which covers equipment if it’s lost or stolen when they’re out and about.
Although you can find concerts year-round, summer is a time of outdoor concerts with people wanting to cut loose and enjoy the warm weather. While this probably isn’t the place to “hard sell” insurance, you can definitely strike up conversations and build relationships with people who could become insurance prospects.
However, unless you do something noteworthy, most people won’t remember you. So you need to be creative, with one idea being to hand out free branded sun visors to concertgoers.
For a comprehensive list of live music events in your area, check out JamBase.
Capitalizing on Warm Weather
Effective networking is all about attending events or joining clubs that are “high value,” explains entrepreneur, Mark Birch. These have sizable crowds, thoughtful discussions and an energetic vibe where you can meet interesting people.
The events and social outlets mentioned here are great because they help you get outside and connect through fun and engaging activities while the weather is nice. With the right amount of effort, you should be able to get your name out there and drum up new business for your insurance agency.
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