Following a successful BIBA conference for iCAN this month, it was apparent how important networking is to us all, both personally and professionally.
In today’s interconnected world, networking is no longer just an option – it is a necessity. This is especially true in the diverse and dynamic landscape of UK insurance, where varied perspectives help stimulate innovation and influence product development.
In an exclusive conversation with iCAN, Peter Blanc, head of M&A at Howden Group Holdings, told us how networking is an essential part of his professional life: “When businesses are looking for talent to hire, or experts to use for a particular job, or when they need a service they will inevitably think firstly about people that they’ve met and interacted with.
“Anybody that runs a business or has aspirations to run or grow a business would be very well advised to get busy on the networking front - the more people that know you, the more opportunities will come your way; it really is as simple as that!”
The UK insurance industry is a vibrant blend of sectors, each bringing its own unique insights and expertise. When harnessed effectively, this diversity can be a significant asset. This is where the power of networking comes in.
In a conversation with Yasmin Carter-Esdale, iCAN partnerships lead and schemes account executive at Hiscox, she told us: “Insurance is a people’s business, built on both the connections you make and relationships you build.
“Networking is key to driving success for diverse groups as it allows them to build their professional network and further amplify their name within the insurance industry.”
By facilitating open dialogue and shared insights, networking enables us to tap into the industry’s diversity and leverage it for collective growth. This can happen in the following ways:
Networking can open doors that might otherwise remain closed. It can be a channel for opportunities, such as potential job offers, business partnerships, or an insightful piece of advice that could transform your approach.
The support that networking can bring is something Mandy Hunt, chief underwriting officer, commercial lines, at RSA and chairperson of the CII Underwriting Community Board, feels is crucial in every stage of our careers: “In my experience almost everything you do in life needs some support. Outside of work our friends and family become our personal network and give us honest and helpful guidance.
“At work, having a network is just as important. At all stages of your career you need a group of colleagues who can help you navigate all areas of your career, from development to delivery, and your network can be a gamechanger in your success. I know the strength of my network has really made a difference in my career.”
So, how does one network effectively within the UK insurance industry? It starts with being open and proactive. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and leverage professional networking platforms. Remember, networking is a two-way street, so share your insights as you learn from others.
Ola Jacob Raji, broker success manager, uses networking to learn more about different cultures and broaden his horizons: “There is a feeling of discovery and connection that can be experienced by networking with diverse groups; it’s a networking superpower that can propel aspiring professionals with diverse backgrounds.”
Furthermore, connection can happen online now – so the utilisation of tools, such as LinkedIn, can propel your ability to access people that were previously difficult to reach.
It can bring a lot of benefits, but networking isn’t without its challenges. Many individuals find it intimidating or struggle to make meaningful connections. It’s important to approach networking with a genuine interest in others, rather than seeing it as a transaction. With practice, anyone can become an effective networker.
On a final note, I always like to flip the word networking to “relationship-building” – something that a lot of us are good at in our own lives, so why should this be different in our professional life?
If you are looking for more networking opportunities in the insurance sector, a good place to start is at iCAN. We are a multicultural insurance network driving change across the industry and we regularly host networking events for members to meet, collaborate and grow. To find out more, visit: https://www.i-can.me/