It seems benefits professionals can't say enough about the valuethey derive from industry organizations and events. In myconversations and interviews with brokers, I repeatedly hear aboutthe many advantages of membership in groups like NAHU, CIAB andWIFS.

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I may be preaching to the choir, but for those new to theindustry (or veterans who might need a reminder) here are a fewhighlights from recent discussions with industry thought leaders onthe importance of industry groups and conferences:

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“Getting out of our comfort zones is paramount to growth,development and prosperity. Becoming involved in industry groupsand being more active should be top of mind. Sit on a committee,mentor new agents, and further develop in a best practicegroup.”

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Chad Schneider, chief sales officer, CodeSixFour

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“Once I joined [industry organizations], assumed board positionsand took on responsibility, it became more imperative to stay inthe business. I found the personal encouragement, mentoring,retreats and conferences essential.”

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Cornelia Philipson, owner, Philipson Insurance &Financial Services

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“Staying connected to organizations helps start conversations,which keep you up to date; and the dissemination of informationthrough those organizations is invaluable.”

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Jared Smith, national partnership manager, InteractiveHealth, Inc.

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“I have had the pleasure of mentoring many women in my career,and I would have never met them if it wasn't for the opportunitiesI received in volunteer leadership serving on the national board ofdirectors for WIFS … no one in this industry got where they aretoday without the assistance of someone looking behind and helpingto pull them up.”

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Susan L. Combs, CEO, Combs and Company

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Encouragement, mentorship, self-improvement, relevancy… Soundslike a wish list for brokers struggling to make their way, doesntit?

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And while I'm not a broker, I can speak to these samesentiments. In my years covering the industry, I've learned a lotfrom reading reports and analyzing studies, but my greatest sourceof knowledge has been conversations with industry experts, whetherin the form of a desperate call or email, or an informal chat overbeers at an industry conference.

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I know first-hand how daunting and intimidating it can be tojoin this industry and try to make your way. I also know the bestantidote is a friendly smile on a familiar face.

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.