In my tenure, I have had the opportunity to learn many thingsfrom some of the best independent agents and brokers in theindustry. A recent gathering of Assurex Global Partner firmsfocused on producer recruitment and development. What I heardreinforced several key principles that are vital to agent andbroker success.

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Be purposeful. First and foremost, create anenvironment and culture of which your current employees are pleasedand proud to be a part. Use this to build your agency's brand as anemployer of choice. Instill a “culture of recruitment” within yourfirm by involving many people in the recruiting process.

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Be diligent. Every interaction offers theopportunity to recruit, even if a job offer is not yet part of theconversation. Successful leaders surround themselves with peoplemore talented than they are. Always be on the lookout for thosepeople and take the long-range view of recruiting, even if youdon't have an open position at the time.

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Be open. If you are an agency leader who hasnot embraced the idea of hiring young talent, I urge you toreconsider. Gone are the days when the stance of “let the carrierstrain them and then we'll hire them” is a sound strategy. Getinvolved with your local colleges and universities. Engage withGamma Iota Sigma, whichoffers a direct pipeline to some of the best and brightest collegestudents who have already demonstrated interest in joining theinsurance industry. Consider developing an internship programwithin your agency.

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Because successful recruiting and effective mentoring gohand-in-hand, the same basic principles apply:

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Be open. The term “mentoring” can strikefear—or annoyance—into the hearts of many. If this is you, considerchanging your frame of reference. Think about it instead asinfusing your new hire with your agency's culture and ways ofoperation. Mentoring is an investment not just in the future of theindividual, but also in the future of your firm.

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Be diligent. Selecting a mentor can be ascrucial as selecting a job candidate—not everyone is a good fit forthe position, no matter how well pedigreed.

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Be purposeful. Build a framework for mentoringand training, but recognize that it cannot be a one-size-fits-allapproach.

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ASK THE EXPERT: What are some ways to build aframework for a mentorship program?

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Allwein: One of the best practices I'veobserved is from an Assurex Global Partner that makes mentoridentification part of the hiring process–and they have employeesvying to be mentors. After learning more about the candidate, thementor builds a training/mentoring plan, which is presented to thecandidate even before a final job offer is made. The feedback acandidate might give on his or her mentoring plan can tell you alot about whether that person will be an ideal fit for yourfirm.

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Meg Allwein is senior vice president and chief qualityofficer at Assurex Global, an exclusive partnership of independentagents and brokers.

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