25 November 2019

Join a Network to Escape the Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

Marketing Team

The day-to-day trials of the independent insurance broker have pretty much morphed into the loneliness of the long-distance runner in recent years. Many long-established firms are fighting off the consolidators, whilst newly established insurance brokerages need to find strategies to get themselves known and hit the ground running. In either case, the office can be a lonely place to be.

The issue for many brokerages is that they have bought themselves the whiteboard but failed to secure the sounding board. Many brokers are crusading to keep the concept of the high street broker alive. Others are rejecting the high street, but still battling to stay independent from an out-of-town office on a business park, or even from a home office. Most will be living on their own wits, with nobody to turn to for advice, unless they are part of a network that will not only offer that advice but also be the sounding board every broker should seek.

Why is this so important? The reason lies in the analogy of the lonely long-distance runner. If it is only you pounding up and down a track each day, you can become isolated from the real world and its challenges. If there is only you to give answers to the business questions that arise in your mind on a daily or weekly basis, you will get nowhere fast, unless a move towards schizophrenia finds your other half a genius!

Any business should be taking on board input from voices who have no agenda, just an objective view. Brokerages are no different. All brokers should be finding someone who can delve into the business assumptions upon which their brokerages are trading. Someone needs to be playing devil’s advocate, challenging thinking, suggesting new ways of going about things, highlighting why a strategy could go wrong and offering impartial advice, offered after considered listening.

There is no substitute for the clarity of thinking that can be derived from a session talking with a sounding board. There is no real value that can be placed on a fresh perspective, provided by someone from outside the four walls of the brokerage. The rewards of focus, drive and renewed vigour that can come from time spent talking with a sounding board can be huge. And the connections that your sounding board may have, will also be hugely advantageous.

But where can an insurance broker find a sounding board that can take on board the complex and multi-faceted issues that arise in the insurance world and still cut through them to present their suggested way forward? Partners may try to assist but may not have the knowledge to be of great help. Friends may try to advise, but merely end up offering platitudes, in an attempt not to offend. What you actually need is someone with a background in what you do, who can listen and offer advice in the context of your day-to-day operations.

This is where being a member of a network is so powerful and even more so, if you are part of the Willis Towers Watson Network. Not only do you have access to an online forum, in which you can seek a virtual sounding board from amongst other brokers, you can also gain one-to-one assistance from your own Business Partner. This person can become your sounding board, listening to your business travails, before offering guidance, moral support and channels that you could go down, to resolve whatever issues you have in growing your business and fending off the consolidators.

This one-to-one sounding board will not be your ongoing mentor but will be the person who will analyse your story and your growth needs, whether you are a start-up, or the long-distance runner who is struggling because of the way insurance is now delivered. Trust should be mutual, as you are both connected via the network. You can talk freely, with no loss of face and will get honest feedback, not a cheerleading hurrah that suggests all is rosy and in no need of attention. It is a highly methodological way of achieving the middle ground that you should be seeking. It is also a fruitful way of bouncing your ideas off someone who will not only respond to them, but potentially fine-tune them and set them into action for you.

At the end of a session, you should feel less isolated, buoyed up by the fact that you now have a clear vision of what to do and how to move forward, and convinced that being a member of your network is more than just paying a subscription and getting no value from it.

If you realise that you need a sounding board to assist your objectives and business goals, please get in touch with us here at Willis Towers Watson Networks. Reject life as a lonely long-distance runner and you could find the track ahead much more rewarding.

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