What was the biggest challenge you faced in 2011 as a young agent, and how did you handle it?
Garrett Droege: I think the challenge in 2011 was staying positive. We are inundated with negative reports from every angle in our lives. The economy is bad. The market is soft. Investments are souring. It’s easy to allow yourself to give in to the negativity and use this information as an excuse. I’ve heard many producers say something like, “It’s rough out there. The economy and soft market are just making it impossible to produce new business.” I don’t buy it. You are responsible for your own destiny. You can find ways to be successful, but you have to avoid the negative sources at all costs.
Sheppard: I use social media daily and update our Facebook and Twitter accounts frequently throughout the week. I have learned that our followers and clients want to read more than just insurance-specific posts. They want to know about us as people, about what is going on in the community, about what is going on in the world and so much more. Social media is a way to communicate with prospects and clients on a more personal level. I also use social media to learn. I will follow insurance industry groups and businesses on Twitter and Facebook to see what they are saying and gather useful pieces of information. Social media is a two-way street for both putting information out there and also taking information in and learning.
Sheppard: Prior to joining my family’s independent insurance agency, I worked as a research aide for a senator in the North Carolina general assembly. Having a degree in political science, I am passionate about government and legislative issues. To stay involved in the legislative world, I became a member of the Independent Agents of North Carolina’s legislative committee. This allows me to lobby on behalf of other independent agents at the state and national level.