“Business opportunities come from getting to know new people and their interests, and this takes time.” This was a common response from 82 insurance executives participating in a new Inter-Company Marketing Group survey.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents said that networking with colleagues and peers is important to business success — more than eight of 10 said it was "vitally important" or "indispensable." Nearly all respondents also agreed that effective networking requires ongoing practice and development.

In the fifth ICMG networking and strategic alliances survey since 2010, 94% insurance executives said they learn networking skills from their peers and colleagues, and 40% identified a mentor as source of learning networking skills. Other sources include teaching by a boss (20%), reading book(s) (19%), reading websites/blogs on networking (16%), teaching by a parent or teacher (15%) and attending a workshop or course (12%).

"Networking tends to get little attention because many consider it common sense or an innate ability," said Audrey Wittenburg, executive director of ICMG. "Our organization believes networking should be intentional and developed because it is so important to developing new business opportunities. This survey provided a fascinating snapshot of seasoned marketing executives' approaches and impediments to effective networking."

The respondents also provided feedback on beneficial networking opportunities. More than half of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that while some industry events do provide good business networking, insurance industry meetings do not allow enough time for people to get together and exchange information about doing business together. LinkedIn was frequently mentioned as a good networking source.

Carrie Burns is the editor in chief of Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.

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