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SEPTEMBER 2014

ANDREW CLARK SEES THE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES IN NETWORKING

“THE NETWORKING ISSUE”

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE TERRITORY UPDATE VIEWPOINT CEO CORNER YBC UPDATE COMMUNICATION UPDATE TECHNOLOGY UPDATE HR UPDATE BROKER ROUND TABLE COMMUNITY VIEW

The official publication of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO)


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE The Official Publication of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) Published by

Networking in 2014

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Art Direction Sue Williamson The Ontario Broker is published monthly by Canadian Underwriter magazine (www.canadianunderwriter.ca). Canadian Underwriter’s Insurance Group of publications is part of Business Information Group (www.businessinformationgroup.ca), a subsidiary of Glacier Media Inc., a leading Canadian information company with interests in daily and community newspapers and business-to-business information services. All rights reserved. Printed in Canada. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, either in part or in full, including photocopying and recording, without the written consent of the copyright owner. Nor may any part of this publication be stored in a retrieval system of any nature without prior written consent. The articles that appear in this publication represent the opinions of the authors and do not represent or embody any official position of, or statement by, IBAO; nor do they attempt to set forth definitive action standards or to provide legal advice.

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skill or habit has helped them excel the most in their careers, and a large majority will surely tell you that networking is the key. In this day in age, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements, e-mails, status updates, special offers and sales pitches, creating a cluttered message. Utilizing your network to create personal relationships will enable you and your organization to stand out, rise above the noise and remain top of mind.

Chris Floyd President IBAO

Building strong relationships

In this digital, fast-paced world where face-to-face conversations are at a premium, the art of networking is still the single most powerful tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization. In saying that, our reliance on social media to complete the task isn’t the only way to network. Gary Turk who wrote the poem, Look Up, which inspired a viral YouTube video encouraging people to put down their smartphones and actually look up and engage in conversation, said, “I have 422 friends online, yet I don’t know them.” Like friendships, networking is about making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. Ultimately, it’s not about who you know, but who knows you. Ask any business owner, politician or successful salesperson what single

As much as technology is revolutionizing how we interact in society, relationships remain the catalyst. As I said in my speech last October, consumers today still want to build relationships; they just want to build them differently. In building your network, you can still think the same way. Use all the tools available to you to build strong relationships. Much like a consumer buying goods and services, people in business want to interact with individuals or entities that they like and trust. In building your network, you need everyone to know that you serve as a resource to help others succeed. To succeed you must continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your current network. Keep in mind that networking isn’t always outside your business or

02 September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER

office; it is equally important to build an internal network. Internally, be visible — don’t hide in your office. Volunteer for projects and make yourself available. Make sure that you know what is happening within your company and where the company is going.

Realizing networking rewards So why is this so important, you might ask? As Gary Turk says in the video, it is one thing to say you have a lot of contacts or friends; it is another to know who they are, what they do and how you can help one another in a mutually beneficial way. Having a fully developed network will be rewarding. It is not built without hard work, but then again, nothing worth it generally is. It is like anything in life: the more you put in, the more you get out. Consider these eight good reasons to build a professional network: 1. you learn about the dynamics within the business; 2. you establish your own business contacts; 3. you get connected to your community; 4. you open doors to career development and opportunities; 5. you build your personal brand as an expert; 6. you cultivate sales leads;


Utilizing your network to create personal relationships will enable you and your organization to stand out, rise above the noise and remain top of mind.

7. you can accelerate your own professional development; and 8. you develop resources that can assist you in your role. I hope you now have a greater understanding of the need for building a network and that building it through technology, such as LinkedIn, is good. That said, nothing replaces face-to-face interactions like meetings, conferences or events. Not everyone wants to — or has the personality to — attend functions and readily talk to people they do not

know. I have found it is easier sometimes to arrive early at a meeting when there are fewer people there, or invite a colleague to attend with you.

CEO’s Schedule:

President’s Schedule:

October 1-3 Atlantic Brokers Conference

October 1-3 Atlantic Brokers Conference

October 7 IBRI Board Meeting

October 7 IBRI Board Meeting

October 9 IBAO Executive Meeting

October 8 Hamilton Brokers Association Luncheon

October 20 Board Orientation

October 9 IBAO Executive Meeting

October 21 Board Meeting October 22-24 IBAO Convention — Ottawa

point to keep in touch with any appropriate news, or possibly pass along an article of interest. So how does one go about this? My suggestion would be to join YBC or your local brokers association. They offer great ways to meet not only brokers, but also insurers, contractors and adjusters.

By regularly attending meetings or functions, you will definitely meet new people and learn from the information and knowledge presented through seminars and speakers. It is all about relationships. Build them and keep them strong. Working together is much easier than going it alone.

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Mutual exchange When you meet someone, always exchange contact information or business cards and follow up. I try to remember one interesting fact about the person and make note of it. Sometimes it comes in handy, and it can help jar both your own memory and that of your contact. Continue adding to this database and make it a

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TERRITORY UPDATE Mike Lalande Director Territory 13 IBAO

A Single Voice Networking is a crucial component of collaboration, which can directly

impact the success of our business, association and channel as a whole. Taking part in the initiatives brought forward by IBAO gives brokers credibility now and in the future — like the huge success of eDocs . Strength has always been in numbers; no one broker could have had companies adopt this on its own. Brokers have the opportunity as an industry to champion telematics. Let’s stay focused on the final objective — to own this, for both our clients

and for the broker channel. The Renfrew Affiliate to the north of the Ottawa Insurance Brokers Association (OIBA) held a successful golf tournament once again in June. The tournament provided brokers in the affiliate with a chance to get together, talk and have some fun outside of the day-to-day grind. OIBA recently had its own tremendously successful event. An open house — held this past May and led by the great efforts of Scott Sleightholm — attracted more than 50 vendors and upwards of 600 or so industry professionals, who had an opportunity to get together to network. And the golf tournament in June, led by Brian Erwin of OIBA, was sold out once again. The association always has great success in getting brokers and associate members out to its events, with proceeds from these events going to support local charities. We spend so much time in the day-to-day dealings with people on the phone or via e-mail, it is always nice to be able to get out in our communities and interact with people face-to-face.

Convention’s in Ottawa! As territory director for Ottawa, we at OIBA are very pleased that our city will host the 94th Annual IBAO Convention. Ottawa is a great city for the event, with the convention centre mere steps away from Parliament Hill and many other historical sites. I hope you will take this opportunity to come support our industry, and take some time to explore the many beauties of downtown Ottawa. Convention is the perfect platform for us as an industry to really shine. Having the opportunity to come together and networking with one another, and with CEOs of some of our leading insurance companies, will only happen here. Individually, through our own relationships, brokers have their attention. But as an industry, as one single voice, we can really make things happen. Visit ibao.org/convention to register. 04 September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER


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VIEWPOINT Ken Myers, B. Comm., FCIP, CAIB Chairman Insurance Brokers Association of Canada

Need to be Quake-Ready

For many Canadians, an earthquake is an event that occurs in a far-off land, like… Japan or Chile. The stark reality is that parts of Canada — and parts of Canada that are heavily populated — are not only in an earthquake zone, but are areas where thousands of unnoticed earthquakes happen every year. Even tsunamis flowing from earthquakes have occurred in Canada: in 1923 in Newfoundland, and in 1964 in Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island. Each year in Canada, approximately 4,000 earthquakes are detected by seismologists at Natural Resources Canada.

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The earthquake distribution can largely be explained by tectonic setting. For example, most of the earthquakes occur along the active plate boundaries off the west coast. However, there is also significant activity throughout the Cordillera (particularly in the Yukon and Northwest Territories), along the Arctic margin, in the Ottawa and St. Lawrence river valleys, in the northern Appalachians, and along the eastern offshore margin. What does this reality mean for the insurance industry, and for Canadians generally? For the last number of years, the industry as a whole has been trying to assess the exact implications and possible areas that are the most vulnerable, as well as how to rate this risk accordingly. Since there are many factors that enter into the equation, an accurate assessment is extremely difficult to do. From seismic mapping that is not thorough, to the state of infrastructure, which may change from one block to another, to climate tectonic forecasting, the industry is trying to juggle all of these unknown factors. An earthquake can leave buildings with poor infrastructure completely collapsed, partially collapsed or in a state that is uncertain as far as its structural health. As evidenced by the New Zealand earthquake in February 2011, it is not always the damage caused by a catastrophic building failure that results in a large insurance claim. Large areas of a city could be deemed unsafe to enter for months, if not longer. Buildings that appear undamaged could, in fact, be located on ground that is no longer stable, or could have unseen damage that renders them a total loss.

Customer education key One of the most common discussions brokers have had with their customers on the issue of earthquake is the reticence of people to purchase earthquake coverage. The question customers have is a common one, “If an earthquake hasn’t hit my area in hundreds of years, why should I spend additional money to pay for something that will not happen in my lifetime?” Well, my thought on this is that this is an education issue; it is our role as brokers to educate our customers on the very real threat people face in earthquake-prone zones. Even though an event hasn’t happened in generations, there exists a very real threat, and this threat should not be taken lightly. People don’t plan on having car accidents or having their homes flooded or burnt down, yet they purchase insurance for those possible events. Earthquake is no different. Although it may seem extremely far removed, that is the whole point of insurance. People will be shocked to hear that earthquakes happen every day in their communities, even though they are not aware of them. We have a responsibility to educate our customers on this very real threat. This is one of the value propositions brokers provide — and one that our customers count on!


CEO CORNER Bob Tisdale President & Chief Operating Officer Pembridge Insurance Company

Building Bridges

Thirty years ago, I built my family cottage in Haliburton and, over the years, have made numerous additions and renovations. I find the physical demands of construction and landscaping to be great stress-relievers and diversions from my role as an executive in a sometimes-stressful industry. During the early phase of one of my construction projects, I learned a very valuable lesson. I was working on a section that required some heavy lifting. Being alone, I put every ounce of strength I had in trying to lift a wall I had built, but to no avail. Exhausted, I was about to give up when a friend of mine showed up. I was frustrated and when I explained to him why, he asked me a simple question, “Why didn’t you use all your strength?” His question annoyed me since I knew I had given it my all, with a sore back as proof. After a brief and colourful explanation of how I felt about his question, he replied, “Yes, you definitely worked hard, but if you used all your strength, you would have asked for help.” We are often faced with challenges that we try to tackle alone. I have learned that asking for help requires a different kind of strength — an inner strength of character to reach out to people, which requires building a network. A network not only enhances your social circle, but also creates an invaluable source of help. Many of us will not readily reach out to strangers when we need assistance; we will, however, consider asking people who we know and trust. When originally building my cottage, I did not know my neighbours very

well — in retrospect, maybe I should have made friends with them before starting my project. I have learned the more you get to know people, the more you put into your “trust account.” These are the people who you trust and who will be there to help you in times of need. Often these individuals are our best friends and family members, but your “trust account” can extend much further. It takes time to build up the equity in your account with the understanding that as you build your equity with others, they are building theirs with you. To build your network, you must proactively make an effort to get to know others more personally. Fortunately, our industry provides many opportunities to build and cultivate networks, including broker conventions, social events, industry functions and informal lunches/dinners. I often counsel our employees that there are different aspects of your career, including the work you do each day and the education you obtain to enhance your professionalism. Education is a fundamental aspect of being considered an insurance professional. Whether it is CAIB courses, CIP courses or seminars, each offers you the ability to increase your knowledge while providing opportunities to expand your network. Since each of us only has 24 hours in a day, however, we must selectively decide where to invest our time.

Business gets personal One goal I set for myself as president of Pembridge and Pafco was to personally visit every broker we do business with across Canada. When I set this goal, I had no idea how long it would take, but I knew it was the right thing to do. After three years of broker visits, on a very snowy day in Northern Ontario, I finally completed this goal. The experience was very rewarding. Many brokers and their employees thanked me for coming to see their operations. They are proud of what they have built and appreciated that I would take the time to visit. However, I was

08 September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER

To build your network, you must proactively make an effort to get to know others more personally. Fortunately, our industry provides opportunities. also grateful because by getting to see their operations and know them better personally, it helped me understand how to align our resources to better meet their needs, thereby sustaining our mutual success. Networking especially proves to be worthwhile when you encounter unexpected situations where you would not have anticipated needing help. I experienced this type of situation recently when I bought a car from a friend in British Columbia. My wife and I decided to fly out and drive the car back home, not expecting that on our long drive we would have a problem with one of the tires. Fortunately, I was able to call a broker located in the area and asked him for help. He quickly referred me to one of his clients who had the special-sized tire I needed. I could have called a tow truck, or perhaps CAA, but I trusted this broker because I’ve built a relationship with him. I knew he was a car enthusiast who would have the connections to help me, and he did so, with no hesitation. Building a network is hard work and it requires self-motivation and dedication. However, the payoff is rewarding. Broadening your skill set and increasing the size of your network gives you the strength to accomplish much more than you could ever do on your own. Professional networks are a critical element of success because they give you access to resources, guidance and advice. The value of your network deepens as you build personal rapports. Once that personal connection is established, it transcends our business and, in many cases, leads to lifelong invaluable friendships. Using your strength to build a solid network is well worth the effort.


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Andrew Clark, president and CEO of newly launched ALIGNED Insurance, is eager to continue his education in the value of ongoing learning and helping those most in need. BY ANGELA STELMAKOWICH

AN EDUCATION Andrew Clark is sold on the value of networking. That may be because interacting with others is so clearly linked to learning, suggests the president and CEO of the recently launched ALIGNED Insurance. “For me, networking is the idea of connecting with as many people as possible to learn from their experience and their perspectives,” he comments. Counting himself fortunate both with regard to his career so far and with the people he has met along the way, Andrew says those interactions reveal to people aspects that they would like (or not like) to incorporate into their own approaches. “I think both sides of that are really valuable. Any opportunity to have a conversation in a networking context, ‘quote unquote,’ you have an opportunity to learn and become better,” he says.

Good from bad Andrew learned one of his most valuable lessons in the summer of 2001. He was involved in a serious vehicle crash, resulting in others being injured and the University of Guelph student, then 21, being sued for $2.2 million. “I was exposed to the industry in a way that most people aren’t at a pretty young age and was left with this overwhelming feeling of being helped,” Andrew says. The crash left him changed — for the better — and equipped with a clear direction. “It was just this incredible, life-altering experience I had. It opened my eyes to the reality of the industry, which is there to help people when they really need it most,” he says, pointing out that both his insurance broker and insurance company worked to ensure the injured parties

received compensation and that his damaged truck was repaired. Upon graduating, the political science under grad knew he wanted to be in a service-type job — perhaps law, policing or the public sector — but it was insurance that ultimately fit the bill. Having done a lot of volunteering, “it was amazing to find an industry that had that incorporated as part of it,” he says. And once Andrew had made his decision, he was all in. Before even getting his first job in the industry, he began working toward obtaining his CIP designation. If he was to differentiate himself as a candidate, Andrew reasoned, knowledge and education would be key. “It’s so critical to get a solid foundation of insurance knowledge,” he maintains. “It really helped me prepare and open

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my eyes to the industry, and really affirm my decision as well,” Andrew says of the decision to work towards becoming a broker.

Learning never ends Education was important then; it remains so today. Among other things, Andrew is now a CIP, RIMS fellow and registered professional liability underwriter who has an MBA from Wilfred Laurier University, a political science and criminal justice and public policy degree from the University of Guelph, and CAIB, FCIP, CRM and RPLU designations. That said, education can take many forms. “Being part of our industry, you’re constantly learning and developing,” says Andrew, who puts education in two basic buckets: academic/theoretical and soft skill development and learning. Education is “a constant way of focusing on both and growing and challenging yourself. It certainly never ends.” Clearly, work also offers its own form of learning. And Andrew has packed plenty of learning into his decade of experience in the insurance industry. He began as an associate broker at Aon Reed Stenhouse Inc., where he

later became an associate account manager. Andrew then moved to Marsh, where he remained from 2007 to 2014. He served in a number of progressively responsible positions, having secured the role of senior vice president and department manager before leaving earlier this year to launch ALIGNED Insurance. “I’ve done all industries and I’ve done all product lines pretty much along the way. That kind of diversity of experience, I think, really benefited me and helps my clients because I’ve got a broad range of perspectives and experiences I can bring to them,” Andrew says. That experience is being put into play as part of ALIGNED Insurance, which launched this past March and seeks to exclusively serve the insurance and risk management needs of Canadian companies through its 18 points of differentiation and expertise. “I’ve always had a strong belief that as things progress in the future, there will be an increasing demand for value from brokers and the services that we offer.” ALIGNED Insurance works on a zero commission/fee-for-service model, allowing clients to choose bronze, silver or gold service packages, he says. “It really distinguishes and

articulates the value we bring in a very specific way, and gives clients a choice, ultimately, about what level of service they would like from a broker,” he notes. “It is a powerful thing, when they have the control and the decisionmaking around that in their hands.”

Looking to the future Ask Andrew about the company’s objective, and he is crystal clear. “We definitively want to be the largest independently owned insurance brokerage in North America; that’s the goal,” he says simply. The idea is to bring in like-minded people from across the country first, using a “quote, unquote” franchise model, until there is a presence in all provinces. That involves looking at physical operations in major urban centres, not simply becoming licensed in all provinces, Andrew says. “We want boots on the ground in the communities and in the cities that we’re servicing,” he says, in order to capture regional needs, cultural differences and insurance industry subtleties. “We hope to have a national footprint in five years,” he says, and over the next five to seven years, “enter the U.S. market as well... and keep going.”

September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER

11


YBC UPDATE Alex Guthrie Team Leader Territory 10 YBC

Conversing in the Digital Age I remember when we first got the Internet at home. The dial-up tones, waiting forever for the text to load in our browser, and if someone picked up the telephone extension, you’d have to start from square one. It was a time when ICQ and MSN were the cool new ways to communicate with our friends. In fact, we are probably one of the last generations

to live (at least part of our lives) without the convenience of the Internet. Now, technology is everywhere and we depend on it every single day. The Internet has undoubtedly made the world more efficient, safer (in many ways), and a better place overall. But it’s definitely changed some things. Many youth are finishing college and university and are now ready to become insurance brokers, but they may not be as versed in face-to-face interaction. Here are my Top 5 tips.

Introduce yourself to strangers Many of us are terrible for not doing this; it’s a fear for most to introduce oneself to a stranger. It’s easier if you have something to talk about or if you’re pushing some kind of agenda — but what if you don’t? Try this one: “Hi! I’m (name). What’s your name?” Simple, right? If the other person

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Set networking goals Knowing what you hope to get out of an event is crucial in how you conduct yourself. Sometimes I set a goal like having meaningful conversations with as many people as possible. Other times it’s specific people I want to touch base with. Remember, be clear about what you want to get out of the experience or conversation — and just go for it!

Awkward silence There may be a time when neither party has anything to say. Not to worry, the other person likely feels as awkward as you! Take the lead; either keep the conversation going, or kindly excuse yourself. If you opt to stick around, ask the person something about himself or herself that you don’t already know.

Don’t be a conversation hog Have you ever been introduced to someone, who immediately starts telling you about themselves? And, worse, they continue to talk without pausing or leaving enough time between sentences for you to politely interject? If you find yourself doing this, try and remember to shift the conversation to something other than yourself, or ask yourself if what you’re saying has value to the person listening.

Remember your manners

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keeps his or her lips sealed, turns and walks away, then you are not the one who should be embarrassed.

For the love of all good things, don’t get wasted, speak with your mouth full, interrupt when someone else is talking, or use foul language (obviously you have to know your audience for this to be appropriate). If a presenter is speaking, don’t talk while he or she is. It’s disrespectful to the speaker and those around you who want to hear what is being said. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Keep these tips in mind when attending industry events, and, hey, why not practise them at the 94th Annual IBAO Convention? I hope to see you there! Remember to register for the big event at ibao.org/convention.


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COMMUNICATION UPDATE Norah Black Marketing Specialist IBAO

Sparking Change We all find ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in, doing things we don’t want to do. Growing up, parents have final say. I remember my dad’s last appeal was always to embrace these scenarios, “They’ll be good for you... build character.” Mowing the lawn was likely the worst — not just our lawn, but the neighbours’ lawns on both sides and another down the street (as the unlucky recipient of my older brother’s business

venture, my new role became lawn maintenance girl for the neighbourhood). “But it’ll build character!” My second job as a janitor — “Think of the character you’ll build!” Having to spell out loud the word I’d just asked how to spell (every time!). Picking up trash every year on World Environment Day — a family cleanup campaign all our own. “Honey, it’ll build character.” So my character’s now huge and I’ve come to appreciate being outside my comfort bubble. Networking is another situation where I’ve sometimes felt uncomfortable. It’s putting yourself out there in all your vulnerability for people to judge and reject. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate its value and how to push through initial awkwardness. But more than that, I’ve learned

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networking isn’t about working a room shaking hands; it’s about identifying with other people. At the core, networking is about taking inventory of what you do, what you offer others and what you need from them in return. It’s coming together in support of a common goal and leveraging relationships for what they bring to the table.

The idea of change Change is hard! Really hard sometimes. Much like networking, it involves putting yourself out there for people to judge. The hope is for nodding heads of approval, but ultimately it’s an experiment venturing into the unknown and uncomfortable. My own opinion is that while hard, change is always good, and surrounding yourself with positive influences helps you move forward. What does change say to your clients? Stuff’s happening is what it says. Things are moving; questions are being asked. When you change things — processes, strategy, yourself — you’re recognizing room for improvement. Great things are works in progress; the key is having a clear outcome in mind, whether it’s a personal quest or common goal for the team. If you see change, move towards it. Build on it. Adjust until it’s time to take a different direction. Especially during its implementation we all need to learn about change, apply the lens to all angles and bask in its past-due brightness. Change is crucial to our ongoing success — while it might seem uncomfortable at first, much like networking it’ll become apparent over time how worthwhile the effort was. So in the spirit of Get Ready for Tomorrow Today, embrace change! Push your boundaries and try a fresh take. Use your network to inspire you, guide you and validate your new direction. As Churchill once said, this is no time for ease and comfort... it’s the time to dare and endure!


TECHNOLOGY UPDATE Darrell Keezer Founder Candybox Marketing

Is Social Media Overrated? You may be tired of hearing the term “social media” in the news, in conversations and even in the insurance industry. There is a lot of talk about the impact that social media is having on the way we live, but does it really have an impact on your brokerage? Like any medium of communication — phone, in-person meetings, text messaging, e-mail, fax, messenger, TV, radio, newspapers and, yes, social media — it should be evaluated based on its total reach and effectiveness within your target market. For example, if your customers (or prospects) stop reading the newspaper all of a sudden, that medium’s drop in market reach will directly impact its value for your company. It doesn’t matter how much you advertise in the newspaper; it won’t work for you anymore. Social media is simply another communication medium, only as valuable as the people who are on it. If none of your customers go on any social networking sites, then it would be of no use for your brokerage to have a presence there, either. However, you need to ask yourself: Is your competition already there? And are your customers heading there as well? Now consider the facts of social media in the Canadian marketplace. Looking at the current statistics, the top social networks are boasting record numbers for membership, as Twitter is growing 24+% consistently year over year, and Facebook boasts 18+ million users. You should also realize that social media isn’t just confined to “social networking sites,” as Canadians discuss

videos on YouTube or read embedded tweets within online news articles. If you are trying to reach people in Canada, social media has quickly become one of the best ways to reach the majority of the population at a fraction of the cost of traditional media options. You could decide today to connect with 100 business owners in a LinkedIn group or simply stay connected with your customers. You could participate with over 1,000 people in a TweetChat about buying a new car, or launch advertisements to everyone on social media who attended a local university and is older than 55. Social networks aren’t just about sharing family photos anymore; it has become the way Canadians connect with one another. Given the growth of the now 9+ year history of Facebook & LinkedIn, it is clear that social networking is not a

fad, but a rapidly growing trend of consumers connecting with each other and businesses online. For the majority of people in sales roles, social media is now missioncritical to prospect, keep in touch and market to their targets on a consistent basis. It’s the modern-day Rolodex, the front door to your business and the easiest way for people to get in touch with you. If you’re not convinced, try Googling your own name and see what comes up. You will most likely see a list of social media profiles that are impressive, empty or worse... Not getting involved in social media in 2014 would be similar to not adopting cellphones in the early 2000s. It’s here to stay. Visit candyboxmarketing.com/insurance to check out how Darrell can help you with all your business’s digital needs.

September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER

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HR UPDATE Tariq Bacchus Senior Associate ENGAGE HR

Value of Internal and External Networking Just the sheer mention of the word “networking” can often send a shiver down one’s spine. But even if you are not a “natural” networker, networking is an invaluable skill that can and should be learned (and refined) over the course of your career. Networking is all about meeting new people, sharing ideas and developing vital business contacts. Whether it’s internal or external, networking is key to making your business a success. More often than not, there is a common belief that networking should be limited to external events outside of the organization. Furthermore, people may be of the opinion that internal networking is a waste of time and a distraction, which I would suggest couldn’t be further from the truth. Internal networking involves getting to know your peers and colleagues,

which, ultimately, results in a stronger community and team within the business. Furthermore, by networking internally, not only are you developing your collaboration skills, it can be argued that collaboration will result in the enhanced quality of an outcome. Networking, both from internal and external perspectives, has many benefits. Internally, you increase your ability to raise your profile and source new project opportunities, while also strengthening relationships with colleagues, peers and stakeholders; externally, you enable the exchange of best practice knowledge, source inspiration for any challenges or issues faced, stay abreast of the latest business news, and build ongoing relationships to exchange information and advice that may, ultimately, lead to referrals and new business opportunities. The term “working a room” is often synonymous with networking. However, contrary to this phrase, successful networking is most definitely not about working your way through huge quantities of people, handing out business cards in the hope of securing a “sale.” It is important to understand that networking is about a mutual gain, and focuses on the long term as opposed to the short term. Successful networking involves building a relationship, and a two-way dialogue

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Successful networking involves building a relationship, and a two-way dialogue will lead to a mutual understanding, which cannot be achieved overnight. will lead to a mutual understanding, which cannot be achieved overnight. Internal networking is much more informal. It is prevalent in large organizations that want to encourage employees from different areas to interact and socialize, and is great for strengthening in-house relationships. Furthermore, internal networking also enables employees to gain referrals from their peers. For example, another employee might have the contact details for someone who could really help with a current project. Often, organizations may be overlooking an important opportunity to open the lines of communication through encouraging internal networking, which can go a long way to breaking down any silos that may exist. The reality is that the majority of knowledge sharing and innovation within organizations occurs through people interacting with people — especially within networks, groups or teams that cross conventional organizational boundaries. Developing a strong network is a continuous process and should not be seen as a one-time-only activity. By investing time to build and manage mutually beneficial partnerships and networks, both internally and externally, you will create opportunities for yourself and your organization, in addition to enhancing the effectiveness of your business. Take advantage of your complimentary, one-hour per month IBAO member benefit by reaching out to ENGAGE HR’s Advantage Helpdesk at 905.306.8111, Ext. 240, or e-mail me at HYPERLINK “mailto:tariq@enagagehr.com” tariq@enagagehr.com.


BROKER ROUND TABLE

My suggestion for others would be to gravitate towards positive people. When you hang out with positive, fun people, you can’t help but meet new people.

We asked 2 brokers 4 burning questions about networking Dan Cook Producer Brister Group

Do you have any tips for people who are new the industry (or perhaps just a little bit shy) when they find themselves in face-to-face networking opportunities? DC: My suggestion would be to stand up straight, chest out and go for it! Clearly introduce yourself, state what you do and where you work, offer a good firm handshake, and ask them about themselves. Then try to find some common ground. TF: First, do your homework on who is going to be in the room and have one interesting question or comment prepared. Second, just march up to whoever the most important person in the room is and start talking with her or him. It sounds intimidating, but they’re often the most relaxed, coolest people — and the easiest to talk to. Third, don’t hang around too long. Once you’ve made your impression, move on to someone else. Fourth, shoot an e-mail off to the person that it was great meeting him or her — follow-up!

Trevor Fitzgerald Vice President, Personal Insurance Gillons Insurance Brokers

your agenda at all. Focus on getting to know the person. At the end of the conversation, ask him or her for a business card or contact information — you can say you have an idea about which you would like to get their advice. Worry about your agenda in that second meeting. DC: The first thing is always to remain professional, but let your guard down a bit and talk about some personal interests. Find out what the other person likes to do in his or her spare time, and relate any similar experiences you may have had. People love to talk about their hobbies or passions, and it will put them in a good mood. In your opinion, what are the most powerful tools available for networking in this industry? DC: Obviously, I would say meeting someone face-to-face is the easiest way, as it lets the relationship develop quickly. However, that’s not always possible, so I believe a phone conversa-

tion can really make an impression if handled correctly. TF: I think face-to-face interactions are the best way to network. One of the most powerful is finding ways to volunteer or spending time at charitable events. You’ll meet a lot of great people and even if you don’t, hey, you’re helping others. What is the most meaningful industry connection you’ve made for yourself over the course of your career? TF: My industry mentor awakened in me a passion for insurance. He was a well-liked and well-connected person. My suggestion for others would be to gravitate towards positive people. When you hang out with positive, fun people, you can’t help but meet new people. He has introduced me to many others in the industry. Everyone wants to be around positivity! DC: My most meaningful connections were made during my time as a YBC leader. The chance to meet other young professionals in my industry with common goals really energized me. These are colleagues and friends who I will have for the rest of my career.

Insurance is a relationship business. How do you balance the difference between networking and selling in your interactions? How do you “tone down the agenda” and “turn up the relationship”? TF: The secret is to not think about

Find out what the other person likes to do in his or her spare time, and relate any similar experiences you may have had. People love to talk about their hobbies or passions, and it will put them in a good mood.

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September 2014 / THE ONTARIO BROKER

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COMMUNITY VIEW THE STARS WERE OUT... Outdoor Movie Night was held in Caledonia on Saturday, August 9. The event was organized by Caledonia BIA and sponsored by several local businesses, including Haldimand Insurance Brokers and Stars on Stage Dance & Performing Arts Inc. Admission was free, but dancers from the dance studio visited attendees and collected donations for the Caledonia Food Bank. Beyond the movie, Haldimand Insurance had a booth with a spin wheel, where participants could win an assortment of prizes, including fuzzy, magenta Bipper blankets; Stars on Stage held a BBQ, with proceeds to help pay for dance competitions. A heartfelt thanks to our business community, without whose assistance events like this would not be possible. Left to right: Dancers from Stars on Stage and Bipper

RUNNING/WALKING WITH HEART Danny Marceau, YBC team leader for Territory 7, registered a YBC team in the Kitchener Kids with Cancer 5K Run or Walk on Sunday, August 24. Money raised is in support of the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO). In all, the run/walk helped raise about $10,000 for this great cause. Left to right: Danny Marceau and Caroline Rose, both employees of the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP).

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Profile for Annex Business Media

The Ontario Broker September 2014  

The Ontario Broker is the official publication of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). The Ontario Broker focuses on importa...

The Ontario Broker September 2014  

The Ontario Broker is the official publication of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). The Ontario Broker focuses on importa...