How to Prevent the Post Conference Crash

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While I originally wrote this for Forge3 in November of 2017, it still applies today. Now that we’re all back in the office after one of the best insurance conferences out there, read this an remember: you can’t do it all and that’s okay. Pick what works for you and crush it.

“Red Bull of Insurance: Every agent needs this conference in their life. The attendees. The staff. The speakers. All incredible. Want to get pumped up about the insurance industry again? Sign up for 2018 now and don’t miss out again.”

That was my review of Agency Nation’s 2017 Elevate conference that year. I affectionately dubbed this conference the “Red Bull of Insurance.”

It was eye opening. It was informative. It got my heart racing. It was a blast. And most of all—it got me fired up and motivated to get back to the office and make moves.

This is all great. Until you actually get back to the office. The energy from the metaphorical Red Bull wears off and you inevitably fall back into the normal routine. That’s when the awesome ideas you gathered from the conference start collecting dust in the corner.

So, how do you prevent the ‘crash’ after a conference? It’s easier than you might think. Essentially, there are two simple steps.

Step 1: Organizing and implementing what you’ve learned

Your travels home from the conference and the first few days back in the office are crucial.

So, as soon as you have a chance, grab your laptop or a sheet of paper and start organizing and digesting everything you’ve learned. Write out all of the ideas from the conference that you think could benefit you and your agency. But keep in mind, not every agency is the same and not everything you learn will apply on the same scale to your agency specifically.

Once you’ve got your list, pick out the two things that are most important and realistically attainable and create a plan to implement them. Then, start implementing!

Side note: I say realistically attainable because, for instance, while drones are super awesome, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to come back and talk your principal into purchasing one so you can shoot cool videos. I tried.

Don’t try to implement all the great ideas at once. You know the old saying… “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Step 2: Make sure you have an unlimited supply of proverbial Red Bull

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again—the connections you make in this industry are so important. Insurance industry conferences can help you take make those connections. Once you return to the office, it’s your responsibility to foster those relationships.

This is where social media comes in. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are all great places to find encouragement and excitement—or proverbial Red Bull. Not only will this help to hold you accountable for your goals, but they will also encourage you to try new things.

Here’s a real-world example…

I’m part of a group of about 15 agents and insurance professionals—most of whom I’ve met at industry events and conferences.

We stay in constant contact. Every morning we check in with one another. If we have a problem, we reach out to one another. If one of us has fallen off the #5amclub bandwagon, we’ll harass—I mean, encourage—them to get back on it. And, if we have a new idea we’d like to try out (like short informational videos for social media), we’re there to provide each other with feedback and encouragement to keep moving forward. After all, relationships and inspiration like this are the keys to staying energized until your next conference!

The lowdown

So, now you know how to avoid the post-conference crash: organize and implement what you’re learned (take baby steps if necessary) and surround yourself with a community of inspiring, likeminded people (with the help of social media).

Here’s where I’m asking you all to hold me accountable…

My goal for 2018 is to implement video into my social media efforts. I’m great at taking selfies, but I’m awkward when it comes to video. It’s time to change that.

If I don’t have a video posted on my Twitter or Instagram by the end of January, you have every right to call me out—I mean, kindly encourage me—to get moving.

Update: thanks to everyone for holding me accountable! I now have my Whiteboard Wednesday videos up and running! 

Have you seen your job lately?

stefan-cosma-362616-unsplashHi, my name is Ashley.

I’ve been networking for three four years.

It started out very innocent, however has taken me to a place I never thought I’d be.

I’ve been called a lot of things over my 29 years on earth. But ‘hypocrite’ hasn’t been one. Until right now. Because I’m going to call myself one. I’m a hypocrite. Here’s why.

In almost every single article I write I mention the power of connections.

It’s important to make connections within the insurance industry for a multitude of reasons.

The connections you make can help open doors. They can help motivate you. They can help educate you. Mentor you.

Basically, make you an all-around better agent.

The Power of Connections

Two years ago – had you asked me if I thought I’d be asked to go to Vail to speak in front of a group about millennials in the insurance industry, be a director on my state association’s board or hey, even writing this article for Agency Nation – I would have laughed.

At that point in time, I didn’t know the power of connections or all the positives that can come from them.

Here’s why I’m a hypocrite: Your connections can get out of control and actually start to detract from your work.

It’s exciting.

All the requests.

The new friends.

The new groups online.

People communicating with you on every platform possible.

Your name getting out there.

And then slowly your work starts piling up.

When Enough is Enough

You get stressed. You follow the groups online and see that you’re not keeping up with the latest trends in the insurance industry.

Videos. Drones. Podcasts. Conferences. Names you should know. People you should be following. This stresses you out.

You stay at work late to try and catch up on your work and do some content planning because you haven’t been consistent enough with it, you tell yourself.

You then start waking up later because you’re tired from being up late. You’re miserable. And then it happens. It’s all getting to be too much.

The Tipping Point

You realize something needs to change.

I’m going to tell you something that’s going to be a little harsh: Do your job.

Your job is to be an insurance agent first.

Don’t forget that.

Don’t lose sight of that.

We have a pretty awesome job. We protect people. We put their lives back together after a disaster. We are there for them. By getting lost in all the other things that call our names –

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc – we are doing our clients a disservice.

Here’s What I Did

I started forcing myself to get back on track with waking up earlier. No more harassment from the 5am club for over sleeping.

I get into the officer earlier and start catching up on my work to get back on track.

It’s amazing how much more productive you can be when it’s quiet.

This next step is the important one: you need to either turn your notifications off from groups that you’re in on Facebook or unfollow them.

I’m not saying leave them – some of the groups really are helpful when you have a question. But the constant chatter in those groups can be very distracting.

You don’t need to be the superhero that answers every single question posted or gives an opinion on every single topic written about.

FOCUS.

Figure it Out

I’m still a big advocate for making connections. I’m not saying stop completely. But what I’ve learned is that you need to find your tribe.

Find the people that are important to you and cultivate those relationships.

Don’t spread yourself too thin.

There are some really amazing agents out there that have learned to balance the whole adulating/running a business/ vlogging/ you name it scene.

And I am so proud to call some of those amazing agents my friends. And I will continue to encourage each and every one of them to keep crushing it and keep putting out content that is educational and informative.

The need and the benefits to staying connected are there. Just remember that the connections need to keep you in your business and enhance it – not detract from it.

Until next time, fam – This article was originally written by me for Agency Nation. Find more great articles here: Do it !

You’re going to fail.

failureYou’re going to fail.

And that’s okay.

In fact – failure could potentially be one of the best things that’s ever happened to you.

You know who else failed at one point?

Steve Jobs.

Richard Branson.

Bill Gates.

Ashley Fitzsimmons.

Gasp!

I know, I know. Ashley Fitzsimmons?! Failed?! Hard to believe.

But here’s the (what shouldn’t be) big secret: it’s what you do in the wake of failing that will set you apart.

Problems VS Opportunities

Sounds like a cheesy poster. But if a cheesy poster on your wall is going to help drill this into your head, I’ll be more than happy to send you a life size poster of me with these words on it: Problems VS Opportunities.

You failed.

You didn’t close the sale.

You upset a current client.

If we succeeded the first time every time, how would we ever grow? We’d all be millionaires. Which I guess doesn’t sound too bad – but personally, I appreciate a challenge. I like to be better than the person I was the day before.

Now what?

Rather than sitting and sulking or finding every possible reason to person to blame for the failure, evaluate the situation. What could you have done to make the outcome different? What can you do next time to be more successful?

You can be more prepared for the meeting.

You can understand your product better.

You can read a book on effective sales tactics.

You can learn to take deep breaths and not fly off the handle or immediately go into defense mode.

You can start to accept that not every person you meet in life is going to be a right fit for you, your business, your product, your service.

The point is: failure can be a positive thing if YOU choose to learn from it.

So next time something doesn’t go as planned – I want want you see the opportunity in the situation – not the problem.

Until next time.