With consumer trust at an all-time low, a collaboration with another brand or professional that holds similar values can extend or transfer a level of trust faster than going it alone. While building a referral program often starts with existing clients, independent insurance agents can also look for opportunities to create mutually productive relationships with other professionals who hold common interests.

The first step in cultivating valuable referral relationships is knowing what type of professionals might result in a meaningful collaboration, followed by an action plan to foster relationships that are a win-win for you and your referral partners.

Whether your agency is primarily personal lines, commercial lines or both, every business or individual has professional relationships that also sell to your audience, making them potential referral partners for independent insurance agents. These can include:

  • Financial advisors and accountants typically enjoy a high level of trust with their clients, as they guide through issues involving creating wealth and saving money.
  • Community business leaders are held in high regard and their recommendations hold sway in their towns and cities.
  • Realtors, auto, RV and boat dealers are obvious point-of-sale referral sources for insurable property and vehicles.
  • Other insurance agents can be great referral partners if your agencies focus on different coverages.

Building a professional referral network takes a bit of time and effort, but if done right, can result in a quality pipeline of prospective clients. Here are some ideas to consider when developing your networking strategy:

  • Join a business referral networking group near you. Meeting other local professionals interested in giving and getting referrals is the most obvious path to developing lead sources through business relationships.
  • Check out your local chamber of commerce or other business owner networks. Less transactional than referral groups, local business associations tend to focus more on networking and creating thriving downtowns and communities.
  • Social media groups connect people with shared interests, whether it be around location, industry, or interests.
  • If your agency focuses on niche businesses, industry and trade associations can be a source of referral partners that share the same audience.

Building your agency’s professional referral network may require a bit of courting and persistence, but the payoff can be significant. Remember to follow up with your referral sources, thank them when they provide you with a new business opportunity with a client, and reciprocate when you can. Successful collaborations are never one-sided, and your agency should be willing to give as well as receive.