With health care reform swirling all around us and impacting the way we all do business, I'm switching gears for a moment to focus on our future by glancing back at our past. Remember the pride you felt when you graduated college? Good grades, good memories and a diploma . . . your ticket to dreams of a bright, successful future - do you remember asking yourself, "OK, now what?"
Somewhere along the way, you decided to become an insurance and financial professional. Maybe you tried something else first and backed into the business or maybe this was your chosen path all along - either way, you became a professional and set out to build a successful career.
Can you remember asking yourself, "How can I stand out in a field of crowded, talented competitors? With seasoned veterans all around me sharing their experience and knowledge with prospective clients, how can I differentiate and distinguish myself?"
If you are new to the business, you might be thinking these thoughts right now. If you have been around for a while, like me, you should still be thinking about how you will continually re-invent yourself and create your own category as the rules of our business change.
There are five important questions to ask when you are re-inventing your own category:
What are you passionate about? Passion can't be faked and it's what separates superior from average results. Ask yourself this question, "If I didn't need to make any money, where would I spend my time and what would I be doing?"
Some of you might say, "Not in this business," and that's OK. It's honest. Regardless, you owe it to yourself to identify your passion and figure out how to focus on it in your work. When you do, magical things happen - you create value for others, and success follows.
Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for failure because your prospective clients won't be able to think clearly about what you can do for them. And if they can't think clearly about you, they will shift their attention to your competition.
Ask yourself what specific area you are passionate about, and can therefore be recognized as an expert on because of your knowledge and experience.
Find creative, high-value ways of promoting your brand by identifying local, and if possible national, media partnership opportunities. How? Think about your niche and identify media that focus on those areas. Reach out via phone, email, social media, etc., to connect and offer your time and expertise at no charge.
Give your newly created category some strategy "legs" so it will stand the test of time. Do so by developing intellectual capital - proprietary processes and unique experiences that help you deliver your specific area of expertise. Solutions designed to solve your clients' challenges and help them achieve their goals and objectives are what you are "selling" - not the products you place. Those are your tools, not what you do.
Creating your own category
Ultimately, your clients pay you for what's between your ears, and it's your job to create the intellectual capital required to help you create your own category.
To stand out, you need to stand up and do things differently - develop a strategy to own your niche - that is how you achieve long-lasting succes ... and, just maybe, some of your dreams.
Gaunya, GBA, is principal at Borislow Insurance. He can be reached at (978) 689-8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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