Conferences can be a fun and productive way for claims adjusters to advance their career between storms. However, it can be difficult to discern which events will be worth your while. With the rapid change and uncertainty of the insurance industry as a whole, it is pertinent to network wisely and build the right relationships while getting the most ‘bang for your buck.’ If you’re an extrovert and naturally charismatic, you probably revel at the opportunity acquaint yourself with insurance carrier reps and independent adjusting firm management. If you’re an introvert, however, the thought of networking and small talk can be more daunting than climbing Mount Everest. Thank goodness for the cocktail hour!
Why are conferences important?
Generally, conferences are beneficial to your career because you are able to meet people “who likely have the same interests as you and are highly relevant to your work,” notes Francesca Gino, a professor at Harvard Business School. In the insurance industry, conferences are valuable to claims adjusters because “they are an educational opportunity, networking opportunity and relationship builder,” explains Eberl’s Claim Service Operations Director (and former adjuster), Rob Petrovics. Adjusters are able to accomplish a great deal in a short period of time and since “technology has made it easier to interact with people across great distances and time zones,” says Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking, it “actually makes face-to-face interaction even more valuable.” Whether you are introducing yourself to someone or nurturing an existing relationship, it is essential to formulate goals so that a) you have a clear direction and b) your time is well spent with everyone in the room. It is helpful to ask yourself, “What, specifically, do I want to accomplish while I am here?”
What are independent adjusting firms and insurance carriers looking for from claims adjusters?
First, it is important to understand all pieces of the puzzle. Claims adjusters are under pressure from independent adjusting (IA) firms to have the right mix of experience and qualifications and varies greatly. IA firms are under pressure from the insurance carriers to have a “large pool of overflow adjusters available when there is a claims spike,” claims Adam Gardiner, owner and team member at AdjusterPro. Conferences are a pivotal and useful tool for IA firms and claims adjusters to interact with their carrier clients and show they are well-equipped to handle, literally, any catastrophe that comes their way.
Remember the Top Five:
Do your research and prioritize your goals.
Prior to the conferences you are planning to attend, “think about the people you would really like to get to know and the carve out time to accomplish that goal,” outlines Gino. Prioritize your top three goals. Strategize. Remember to enjoy yourself, but periodically ‘check-in’ with your goals. Also, allow yourself time to reflect on the events of the day.
Be authentic, be yourself.
Some awkward situations can’t be avoided, but preparation is half the battle. Up your confidence by brushing up on your knowledge of the companies in attendance. If you are lacking direction or motivation, “try a SWOT analysis,” suggest the editors at MindTools. By identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you may shed light on what you can highlight, avoid, address and pursue at the conference.
By taking the initiative to attend the conference, network and educate yourself, it inherently builds rapport with the IA firm which can often translate into more work. Chief Operating Officer of IAS Claim Services, Tony Scow, offers his insight that, “Attending a claims conference tends to develop meaningful relationships for the contractor and IA firm. Nothing can replace relationships that are built in person.”
Speak thoughtfully, listen carefully.
If you are confident and adequately prepared, your conversations should flow easily and more naturally (not to mention leave a good impression). Cathy Crone, an experienced adjuster adds, “Don’t be a bragger, take notes, remember names and keep an open mind as you will learn something new.” Struggling for the right words to say? Keep in mind that quiet confidence speaks louder than incessant conversation.
The old adage, “the fortune is in the follow-up” is an adage because, well, it’s true. By following up, it shows your attention to detail, initiative and positively reinforces the interactions you exchanged during the conference. It is the next step in solidifying a positive working relationship and ensures you stay on the company’s radar.
Author: Brittney Petrovics