Whether you call yourself “rookie,” “newbie,” or “noob” (theyoungsters' version of this word), we've all found ourselves in anew job at one time or another. We may have had peers or coworkersjoke with us by saying words like these as terms of endearment . .. or, better, had them take us under their wings and teach us aboutour new environment.

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The truth is that any advice is helpful when you're entering anew field. New insurance agents understandably feel overwhelmed asthey begin navigating the complex world of insurance, sales,customer service and even agency management.

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But have no fear! Here at PropertyCasualty360, we've compiled alist of some of the best advice for your first day at schoo — erwork. It's advice that will apply for years to come, in fact. Downthe road, you can use this list as a starting point for your ownlist of best advice for new (or even seasoned) insuranceagents.

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If you're a more experienced agent, what are some tips that youwould give to those just entering or even thinking about working inthis field? Leave them in the comments section below.

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1. Brush up on your customer serviceskills.

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If you thought that that job as a waiter or at a retail store was a waste of time, thinkagain. Remember how your performance was being evaluated everysecond by your restaurant guests? There are some very interestingparallels between serving clients in the food industry and in theinsurance industry; in both cases you're dealing with a client whoexpects the best customer service, and as fast as possible.

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America's Professor, a company that provides insurancepre-licensing courses in 26 states via online learningprograms, says on their website, “Customer service oftensets competitors apart from one another in highly competitivebusinesses like insurance. Good insurance agents understand thatwhen their quote isn't the lowest, their ability to make customersfeel valued and important can tip the scales back in their favorwith clients.”

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So take note: Interpersonal skills are a must.

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sales

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2. You are in sales; never forget that.

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As a sales professional, your job is to find the product that isbest for your client's needs, and educate your prospect about thatproduct. It's not a one-and-done deal. Selling insurance meansstarting a lifelong relationship with your client.

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If you're new to sales, observation is key: Look, read, listenand watch what the top salespeople are doing. How do they dress?What do they say and what do they never say? What are some of theirsuccess stories (and horror stories), and what can you learn fromthat?

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Learn from the experts, but also figure out what works best foryour individual selling style, and what sets you apart from yourcompetitors, recommends Next Wave Marketing.

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team
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3. Find a full team of people to supportyou.

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No, you're not the only person in the world that has beenrejected by a prospect … but you might not know it if you don'ttalk to other people and share your experiences, while listeningand learning from theirs. If you're an independent insurance agentor just joined an agency, look for tools such as trainings, supportand encouragement from your support team.

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If you're working independently, you don't need to be in a silo.Reach out to insurance agent associations and educationalinstitutions for support, for example: the National Association ofInsurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the National Association ofProfessional Insurance Agents, the Association of InsuranceCompliance Professionals (AICP), the Compliance & EthicsForum for Life Insurers (CEFLI), LIMRA, the Life Insurance SettlementAssociation (LISA), LOMA, the National Association of Independent Life BrokerageAgencies (NAILBA), the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and many more.

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success
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4. Dress for success.

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First impressions count. Stacy London, a stylist who stars in TVshows like “What Not to Wear” and “Love, Lust, or Run,” knows this.Her job is to help people dress appropriately for work, for goingout, and for the life stage that they are in. She tells them whatlooks good on their bodies, what doesn't work, and what isappropriate for a range of situations, all while helping themmaintain their personality and sense of self.

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The TV shows ultimately reveal the reactions of family, friendsand strangers to the old and the new looks. It's an interestingsocial experiment on how first impressions shape what we think ofpeople. The strangers might say, “I want that person to be myfriend” or “Oh no, I would never take that person to meet myparents.”

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It might sound harsh, but we do form a perception of who aperson is based on how they look. So, keep it clean and classy, andlearn what styles work best for you. If you need help, departmentstores have personal shoppers that might assist you. Or, ask afashionable friend.

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handshake
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5. Relate to your prospect or client.

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More than small talk, asking about a prospect's family, work andinterests will help jump-start the conversation and make you bothfeel at ease. Remember to focus on your client: after all, you'rehere for them (not the other way around).

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Maribeth Kuzmeski, a regular contributor on LifeHealthPro.com,has written a lot about the importance of client relationships andhow “conversation is the bedrock of relationships. Without them,our relationships are devoid of substance,” she writes.

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Kuzmeski believes that conversation is an art that can lead tomany more opportunities, including cross-selling or gettingreferrals. “(Conversation) is a great way to invest inothers. The act of listening — the other half of having agreat conversation — shows people you care. Have you ever beenaround someone who just wants to listen, wants to hear all aboutyour day or a recent trip? You might not encounter these peoplevery often, but when you do, they really stand out. Whenyou speak with prospects and listen to what they have to say,you're showing you value them,” she says.

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This is good advice, but remember that a conversation should goboth ways. Take time to also share a little of yourself, yourhobbies and other points that will help position you as anauthentic person who is genuinely interested in helping out yourclients.

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error
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6. Proofread all written communication.

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What happenz when you seez an error in antying thats written?You either stop reading or think: “There's spell check for that,idiot.” You can't help but let your own internal grammar troll comeout.

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Why is this? Something that is poorly written comes across asunprofessional and ignorant. It immediately loses credibility. Inan industry where you are working hard to build trust with yourclients and prospects, the last thing you want is to do anythingthat will take away from that trust. Make sure that youdouble-check that email, and even that text message, before hittingsend. If it's a longer document, have a second or even third pairof eyes review it.

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truth
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7. Transparency is important, during the sales processand after.

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On your way to building client trust, transparency is of utmostimportance. Think about car salespeople: When you're at adealership, are you interested in becoming friends with most of thepeople there? The usual answer is no. You know these salespeoplewant to sell you a car today. Past experience tells you that theywill hound you until they make their sale. It's an attitude thatleaves a bad taste in your mouth, amirite?

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Steven McCarty, another of LifeHealthPro's contributors, haswritten about how to build trust with prospects: You need to “workhard to educate prospects about how to do their due diligence onyou (including FINRA's BrokerCheck, the Better Business Bureau(BBB) and National Ethics Association (NEA), among others).Also, consider purchasing a background check on yourself to proveto them you have no criminal or civil skeletons in yourhistory.”

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promote
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8. Learn how to market yourself.

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What sets you apart from another insurance agent? If people canfind your same product cheaper and faster somewhere else, why wouldthey buy from you?

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A recent blog from Rob Holmes, founder of theHolmes Group and Estate Strategies and the December 2014 'Alumnusof the Month' for The American College, talks about your personalbrand: “How do you package yourself, your products and yourpresentation? The items in your package are YOU. What you say, howyou say it, spoken words, body language, punctuality, the way youdress, and demeanor are all components of your all-important firstimpression, and they make up your brand.”

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success
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9. Be persistent.

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“Persistence leads to success,” my father is always telling me,along with another gem: “Talent prevails.” These two proverbs workhand-in-hand. You can have all the talent in the world, but if youdon't keep persisting, you'll flicker out like a candle in thewind.

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But enough about poetry. In truth, having a high energy levelrubs off on the people around you, from your clients to your team.There isn't a more contagious attitude in the world than someonewho is genuinely excited to work, to serve their clients, to helpfamilies navigate and plan for their financial futures.

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Persistence is a quality that you must develop and continuallywork on in order to prevail in the insurance industry. Investopediasays that, “This is perhaps the most vital quality of any goodinsurance agent. Those who work in this field absolutely must beable to handle rejection on a daily basis over thecourse of their careers, and do it with a smile. Good insuranceagents understand that each 'no' only brings them closer to someonewho will say 'yes.'”

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Think about it: When a client says no, you either adjust yourpitch or take them off your list, leaving you with more time todedicate to another client or prospect.

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maze

10. Manage your own expectations.

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In his book Things a Little Bird ToldMe, Twitter's co-founder Biz Stone notes that“timing, perseverance and 10 years of really hard work willeventually make you look like an overnight success.”

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For the people who keep on saying that something was an“overnight success,” here's the reality: There isn't such a thing.Rome wasn't built in a day. Michael Jackson didn't become famousovernight. Steve Jobs encountered a number of challenges on his wayto success.

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It all comes down to managing your own expectations and those ofyour clients. The reality is that you're going to have to work veryhard to achieve whatever success means to you. Brent Kelly, the owner of BizzGrizz, a techcompany that offers marketing solutions to small business owners,and a former insurance agent, writes that all insurance agents“start off in the first year or two of our careers and expect to bedriving the nice car, living in the nice house, and playing golfabout 100 days a year.”

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However, you must realize that this “business is tough like anyprofession, and it takes time, effort and failure to become amaster,” he says.

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So, take a deep breath. Your time to bask in the light ofsuccess will come, granted you put in hard and intelligentwork.

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