With BIBA on the horizon, Covéa Insurance’s Keith Hector takes the long view on the importance of being open and reaching out to new connections.
“It’s often said that regardless of the vast number of people working in the insurance it remains a small and tight-knit community of individuals. Naturally with age that becomes even truer. As I approach my 50th birthday and 30th year in the industry (I know, I look much older!) I find that when I’m introduced to people, I often establish that they’re connected with people I have dealt with or known for many years.
Social media has been enhancing the potential for this activity for some time, and promotes connections that would otherwise have lain hidden or fallow. LinkedIn is a great example – I perceive that it has moved from a position of being ‘that website that we probably have to join when we want a new job’ to being a really useful tool to connect up businesses. It is widely subscribed to not just by people working in insurance but also by individuals across the broader business community.
As we look around the corner to the forthcoming BIBA Conference I’m enthused by the prospect of bumping into people who have moved on to new, different, bigger or smaller roles, or those that have stayed where they are but like me got a little greyer, fatter, but definitely older. The excitement of knowing that our previous connection and the positions we find now ourselves in might just mean that we can talk about how we help each other again. The BIBA Conference is great at that – I try not to tie myself down to appointment after appointment as there is so much fun and potential business opportunity to be had by catching up with contacts from across the industry.
If you need a further demonstration of how small this industry is and how networks are as closely knit as the jumper my Granny Gladys gave me in Christmas 1971 (it nearly sheared my ears off putting it on) then how about this; when in HM Forces in the mid 80’s I was good pals with a chap who had to leave the service due to an injury. No social media then, so we eventually lost touch, which was a bit sad as we got on like a house on fire. Fast forward 30 years and I establish through contacts in the market that the same fella has worked in the City, since 1995, based less than half a mile from where I have worked for the majority of that time, and we never bumped into each other. We have now made contact again, and through that reconnection, I now know other new people, who are connected to people I’ve known for years, and so it goes on. Circles within circles, wheels within wheels (showing my age again).
There are other nuances to these connections that I also find fascinating. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard about someone who is now working for a person that they initially recruited years ago. That keen, intelligent and engaged member of your team could well turn out to be the CEO of another company you work for down the line. And to a person, the storyteller is usually proud of how they helped that successful leader on their way.
So let’s celebrate our networks, be they business, social or both, and recognise that we are an industry of people and connecting with others is part of the joy of the job. And for the next generation of insurance people, I’d offer the following homespun advice:
- Take those LinkedIn connections from the screen and meet them face to face, you never know what opportunities will spring from that in the future
- Be nice to people, don’t make enemies, and think about the image you are projecting. Those people around you will invariably reappear in future years
- Be kind to your boss – they might need you for a job in the years to come!??
Enough from me! I’ll be on stand E50 at BIBA with the rest of my team so in the words of the Four Tops .. “reach out, I’ll be there”