There are hundreds, if not thousands of insurance events, conferences and trade shows across the U.S. every year. As an agent, you’ve probably been to your share of them.
As a technology company in the insurance space, we go to many shows every year. We love catching up with our clients, seeing what our competitors are working on, sharing our expertise in keynotes and panels, and meeting agents who want to learn more about our company.
After having attended more than 100 shows in the last few years, here’s our list of tips on how you can make the most out of your next conference as you plan for 2023.
Why go at all?
Matthew Smith, our business development representative, has been going to conferences for more than 20 years throughout his career in insurance and other industries. And his take on it is simple, “When we don't get out, we tend to stay in our lanes for too long and the world can pass us by. Conferences force us to see beyond our own well-worn paths and spot potential pitfalls or opportunities that others further down the path may have identified. You will see how other agencies use automation, streamline their businesses, find additional profit centers, manage change and identify creative solutions.”
Matthew, who was an insurance agent for many years, believes that getting away from the office and setting aside time for relaxation and self-improvement is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and for the health of your business. “You will return a better version of yourself,” he adds.
Know what you want to get out of it
It is important to know why you’re attending a conference. Are you hoping to learn what’s the latest and greatest in insurtech? Is your goal to strengthen relationships by networking? Maybe you want to meet other agency owners and insurance professionals to learn from them. Or perhaps you just need a change of scenery and a break from the office. All of those are great reasons. But narrowing down what you hope to accomplish more specifically will help you pick the right events and allow you to spend your time (and money) wisely.
Choose your events thoughtfully
As with any event, it’s hard to predict which ones are worth attending. Some are consistently great, others may be a hit one year and a miss the next. And going to a show is not cheap once you add up your flights, hotel, rental vehicle, registration fees, etc.
Many shows bring in celebrity speakers to attract attendees, which is great, but look beyond that and really understand if the agenda looks like something you would benefit from. Are you going just to see one keynote or is the conference also packed with valuable breakouts, workshops, sessions, vendors and other opportunities to learn?
Connecting with peers who have attended a conference you are interested in is a good way to learn more. Start a conversation in your professional LinkedIn, Facebook or other groups to see who has gone to which shows and what they liked and didn’t like about those events.
Do your research and find shows that best benefit your business and your employees. As an agency owner, for example, you will get more value out of some shows whereas a CSR may benefit from an entirely different event.
Divide and conquer
Once you have a list of shows you’re considering, send different employees to the shows that would be the best fit for their role and interests, and then reconvene and share everything you’ve learned.
Like planning for any trip, planning your time at the conference is just as important. Being prepared for what will take place each day will help you stay organized and keep the stress to a minimum.
Most conferences give you the option to download the show app. The app will usually have all the information you need including the agenda, sessions, speakers and even details about fun giveaways and events from vendors and sponsors.
Join the events
Networking is one of the best ways you can improve and grow your business. Decide which events you’ll attend and commit to participating and engaging with others. Not only will you learn something new but sharing your knowledge and experience will benefit others. If you happen to be an expert in a certain topic—consider leading a session or joining a panel.
Plan to visit the tradeshow exhibit
The exhibitor hall is an important part of almost every conference. Even if you are not looking to shop for new tools, you will get the chance to see what’s new in the industry. Vendors typically bring their latest products, so this is your chance to see what’s new. If you see any of the companies you already work with—stop by and say “hi.” As a vendor, we absolutely love seeing our clients at events.
Just like you survey your clients, organizers are likely to ask for your feedback after the event. Take a few minutes to respond and tell them what you enjoyed and what they can improve. This will allow them to make the next conference even better.
Looking for more?
If you’re looking for specific tips on how to improve your in-person networking skills and connect with people, check out this interview with Patrick Galvin and his advice for insurance agents. Patrick is an author, coach, and TEDx speaker whose presentation we really enjoyed at one of the recent industry events.