Lots of insurance agents go to networking events. And if you’re a wholesale insurance broker looking to expand your network, it might be worth it to consider attending some of these. Even if you’re doing as much as you can in terms of online branding and outreach, there’s often no substitute for meeting people in real life.

But networking events take time—and your time is valuable. Here are a few things to consider before joining a networking event.

Does it attract the type of insurance agents you want to work with? Not every insurance agent is the right fit for your services. Depending on the type of insurance you offer, it might be a waste of time to attend an event that attracts mainly agents who sell personal lines insurance—or it might be ideal. More general business meetups may work for you, or you might be better served looking for groups that cater to a more specific audience.

It’s always useful to research who will be there ahead of time. Look them up on LinkedIn and see who they’re connected to. Look for the specialties and job titles you’re interested in working with.

Do you have the time? Nobody likes overly aggressive networkers—and a lot of very conscientious businesspeople dislike being that person. But when your time is constrained and you want to make sure every event you attend gets results, it can be difficult not to fall into that trap. For many people, the ideal attitude toward networking is one of finding ways to help others—not looking for help, or business, themselves. While that attitude might build some great contacts over the long term, it may make networking a shaky solution for shorter-term payoffs. Decide whether you’re looking for long- or short-term gain.

Do you have the money? Some networking organizations are more expensive than others. Consider travel costs, membership dues, the cost of printing up new business cards, and the cost of time taken away from your business. If you’re not getting a return on investment after about three months—or if the entry-level costs are too high—it may not be worth it.

If you’re considering using a networking group, be sure to do the research ahead of time. You’ll want to target groups that attract the type of insurance agents you work with; for many wholesale insurance brokers, that may mean looking into more industry-specific groups. Do a careful analysis of the cost in terms of time as well as money, and consider whether you’re looking for short-term or long-term gains. Meeting insurance agents in real life is often ideal—but you don’t need to join a networking group to do it.

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