The 2023h WSIA Annual Marketplace takes place Sept. 17-20 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. (Sean Pavone Photo/Adobe Stock) The 2023h WSIA Annual Marketplace takes place Sept. 17-20 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. (Sean Pavone Photo/Adobe Stock)

The Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association’s Annual Marketplace is the ultimate meet and greet for professionals working in the excess and surplus sector.

The event is a unique, exciting, and fruitful experience.

For first-timers, however, it can be overwhelming. To give rookies a head start, seasoned veterans have revealed their tips for maximize this incredible opportunity.

Annual Marketplace Tip No. 1: Define your goals.

“Plan and define your objectives. Failing to seize the opportunities presented would be the gravest mistake you could make.” —Ralph Blust, CRO, Pathpoint

  • Focus on face-to-face relationship building and quality time with priority people. Basic hello/catch-up sessions can be saved for video meetings. —Christyn Yoast, Head of North American Distribution & Underwriting, Beazley Digital
  • To prioritize my meetings, I categorize them into three buckets: 1:1 core partners, new partner groups, and social activities. —Alex Bargmann, CEO, Pathpoint
  • Preparing specific points or questions in advance is essential. It helps avoid the frustration of forgetting important questions and having difficulty finding the person later. —Angie Fylak, Product AVP, Nautilus
  • Attending the WSIA conference is a great opportunity to meet our brokers, carriers, and reinsurers, maximizing our time. We scheduled our annual team gathering around the conference, and our tech and ops teams will arrive a day early for an offsite meeting to take advantage of the presence of underwriters and executives in town. —Gage Caligaris, Founder & CEO, Ledgebrook Specialty Wholesaler
  • WSIA helped me gain insights into the dynamics at play, including underwriters, wholesalers, MGAs, and distribution models, expanding my industry knowledge. —Melissa Chi, Head of Product, Pathpoint
  • You are essentially speed-dating, but you will get what you put into it. Brian Hoover, Strategic Partnerships, Pathpoint

Annual Marketplace Tip No. 2: Pace yourself when scheduling meetings.

“Make sure you are deliberate about carving out time.” —Mark Schauss, Executive Underwriting Officer, Markel

  • You will be racing between meeting venues, worsened by the distance and San Diego heat. Make room in your schedule for fortuitous connections at the conference, as they often lead to the most impactful meetings. —Ted Stuckey, President, Nationwide Brokerage Solutions
  • Start scheduling your WSIA meetings in July, and maybe even in June. Last year, only ten of us were in the ballroom on Wednesday, so I suggest planning your meetings for Monday and Tuesday when most people are still there. —Melissa Chi, Head of Product, Pathpoint
  • Give yourself time to breathe between meetings. —Angie Fylak, Product AVP, Nautilus
  • Too much open time? Shadow a colleague or walk to the common areas for impromptu meetings. —Ralph Blust, CRO, Pathpoint

Annual Marketplace Tip No. 3: Optimize your resources.

“WSIA will be painful if you wing it.” —Brian Hoover, Strategic Partnerships, Pathpoint

  • Buddy up; partner with a colleague who knows the convention space well to best navigate between meetings. —Ralph Blust, CRO, Pathpoint
  • Avoid any meetings offsite. For popular areas, have a colleague save one of the open round tables early in the morning! Brian Hoover, Strategic Partnerships, Pathpoint
  • Use paper for notes and consider printing presentations for better visibility. I take notes on my phone. Bring at least a charger, preferably portable. —Alex Bargmann, CEO, Pathpoint
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I get it, I am a cute fancy heels person, but save those for an event with a lot fewer steps and a lot less standing! Your feet and back will thank you. —Angie Fylak, Product AVP, Nautilus

Annual Marketplace Tip No. 4: Get social!

  • There are some must-attend parties hosted by major brokerages. Invitations are required, and you don’t want to miss them. —Melissa Chi, Head of Product, Pathpoint
  • Should you opt not to attend any parties, the bars at each of the event site hotels will be packed with others in the same boat. Brian Hoover, Strategic Partnerships, Pathpoint
  • There are eyes everywhere, even outside of the event space. So, while you should have fun, don’t forget that you are at a work event and should present yourself in the best possible light. —Ralph Blust, CRO, Pathpoint
  • Have fun, make new connections, and learn something new! —Angie Fylak, Product AVP, Nautilus

These tips were gathered by Justine Gilkin, a marketing communications specialist at Pathpoint.

Opinions expressed here are the speakers’ own and not specifically endorsed by the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association.

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