Past local institute president, Malcolm McCutcheon, explains how, in an age of online networking, the local institutes offer an unmatched opportunity to make real-world relationships
In the famously sociable profession of insurance, it pays to get out there and meet new people. Furthermore, it is the relationships you build and maintain throughout your career that can give you opportunities further down the line and provide support wherever your career takes you.
Malcolm McCutcheon began his career in Glasgow in the late 1980s, but after 10 years took up a position in Essex. It was there he first got involved with the Chelmsford and South Essex Local Institute.
"At that time, it had been struggling to attract new and younger members and several of its council were on the point of retiring, so it needed an injection of energy and enthusiasm," says Mr McCutcheon.
"We began by bringing several younger members onto the committee and revitalising the events programme. We also started going out to schools."
As education officer, Mr McCutcheon started a schools programme about insurance, highlighting the opportunities it offers. After a year as president in 2008/2009, he focused more on organisational roles, putting on learning and social events.
In 2011, Mr McCutcheon moved back to Glasgow, but the network he had built up around him during his career enabled him to quickly re-establish himself back home. "When I moved, I made tremendous connections that helped me in so many ways," he explains. "Local institutes go a million miles to expand your network, far further than you could do in the normal course of work."
Mr McCutcheon returned to the Glasgow Institute, where he has been involved in improving the quality and broadening the range of speakers, looking beyond the membership for ideas and inspiration.
The relationships that begin at your local institute often lead to career conversations too, so you are meeting people who can help to shape your future
One group that he feels needs special attention is the young. "Insurance is less often conducted in big offices full of people these days," he says. "You might find yourself working in a place where there aren't many people your own age, which can be isolating -- so targeted events help with that, creating supportive connections for people."
Mr McCutcheon believes local institute events are also a sure way to enhance your profile -- and that is important too. "Insurance is like the smallest village in the country," he says. "Everyone knows everyone else and the people you meet are important. You never know when you might need someone, either because you are doing some business that may involve them or because you need some advice about a subject that might be their area."
The relationships that begin at your local institute often lead to career conversations too, so you are meeting people who can help to shape your future.
"There are 10,000 people working in insurance in Glasgow; how else are you going to make yourself known to them for business and career advantages?" asks Mr McCutcheon. Getting on the network through the local institute gets you seen and recognised.
One cannot deny that physical meetings and word-of-mouth introductions put the local institute experience in a totally different league to the comparative remoteness of LinkedIn.
For more information, visit: cii.co.uk/fivebigwords