Episode 102 — The Digital Broker Podcast

Staying Productive During Lockdown: Advice from Olivia Schmitt


On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds talks to Olivia Schmitt about how she built her presence on LinkedIn. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • When and why Olivia Schmitt began to post consistently on LinkedIn.
  • How she organized what she would post about and how often.
  • How she grew her online presence this way and landed her dream job.

The insurance industry is thriving, and it will continue to thrive—but right now, it is “on lockdown,” like everyone else.

Thanks to the social distancing measures taken in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, insurance agents and brokers are getting their work done from home. Remote work tools have been a great help, and many agencies are getting by, taking care of business, and helping people. Privately, however, many agents and brokers feel stuck—literally as well as figuratively. When you are physically confined to the same place indefinitely, it can feel like your career is also under arrest.

It is tough to complain about this when so many people have lost their jobs. Still, even those who are hanging on to theirs can’t help but feel like their career is going nowhere. Nobody’s going to conferences right now, meeting people, shaking hands, and discovering new ideas and opportunities. But being away from this activity doesn’t mean your career is over, or even on hold. Just ask Olivia Schmitt.

When she was on The Digital Broker about a year ago, Olivia was still an account manager at an insurance agency, a job she enjoyed in an industry she loved. But she knew that she was ready for a change. “I never wanted to leave insurance,” she tells Ryan Deeds today. “But that was the only thing I knew. I didn’t know where my path was going, but I knew it had to go somewhere outside of the agency space.”

Around the end of 2018, Olivia started making videos and posting them on her LinkedIn page. There was no endgame, no grand design in mind. “I wish I could say I was being very purposeful and strategic, that I knew exactly what I was doing, but it wasn’t like that.” She had ideas about insurance and she wanted to share them—and she also wanted to hear other people react to them so that she could learn at least as much as she was sharing.

Neither did she overthink what she would talk about, nor did she stick to a rigid program. She did try to post every Monday, but she’d talk about whatever happened to be on her mind that day.

“It’s been very organic: I talk about things that inspire me as much as I talk about things I’ve struggled with. Everything on social media is usually the glamour story, the highlight reel, and it’s easy to ignore our struggles. There’s a ton of value in sharing success, but there’s also a ton of value in sharing struggles, especially if you can share how you’ve overcome them. People crave that authenticity, and the more we provide an authentic message, the more people feel like they can do the same.”

Over time, people realized that they could depend on Olivia for fresh takes on the insurance industry. She developed a following, the benefits of which are numerous. Obviously, a bigger network means more opportunities down the line. On top of that, by the time you meet those people in real life, they feel like they know you. People who followed Olivia on LinkedIn knew about her ideas, her strengths, her specialties, and her passions. Above all, they would know she was smart, energetic, consistent, and dedicated to her profession. This is enough to impress many people into offering you jobs and opportunities.

It was certainly enough to impress Justin Goodman, who has also been on The Digital Broker. He and Olivia were already acquainted, but by the time they ran into each other at a conference, they didn’t have to keep making small talk: Goodman knew Olivia from LinkedIn, and he offered her a job as Director of Communications for his Insurtech startup, Total CSR, where Olivia works today. It was just the opportunity she had been looking for, and it happened because “having that exposure on social media and being able to follow up in person were an incredibly powerful combination. If I had relied on just one of those things, I don’t think it would have happened.”

This lockdown is not going to last forever. We can all look forward to returning to the insurance industry networking scene. Are you making good use of the time you have now to build your online presence in preparation for these opportunities? What’s on your mind? What are you passionate about? Did you know we have a LinkedIn page of our own where you can get started on this networking and meet hundreds of insurance agents, brokers, and professionals, including Olivia?

Find us at the Digital Broker LinkedIn group.

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