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Ivan Hudson Leverages Networking, Relationship Power

Ivan Hudson, Founder

The old saying, “Grow where you’re planted,” is an apt description of Ivan Hudson’s journey from Tulsa transplant to successful entrepreneur.

The 34-year-old founder of the Ivan Hudson Agency, affiliated with Farmers Insurance, has made the most of each stop along the way, forging connections and building networks that are the bedrock of his success. As he once told Arkansas Business, “There’s a one-letter difference between ‘networking’ and ‘not working.’ ”

“I really believe your reputation precedes you,” he said. “I became known for connecting people, even when I wasn’t in business for myself.”

Hudson started out with the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, then transitioned to the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. During his time with the Arkansas Lottery Commission, at which time he earned his MBA, Hudson was inspired to start his own company.

“I told myself whenever I finished my MBA I was going to get out of state government and I didn’t really want to go work for somebody else,” he said. “I was in my mid-20s and I didn’t have a lot of disposable income but I had a little bit left over at the end of the month; I wondered what I should do with it?

“I found I didn’t have anyone in my network I felt comfortable talking to about insurance, financial services and investments. I asked some of my peers and they were going through the same dilemma. I said, ‘I can be the solution to that problem.’ ”

Hudson aligned himself with Farmers Insurance, allowing him to cross off a long list of things he wanted his business to stand for. He equipped himself to be an anchor of unwavering commitment to the community he calls home.

“I knew that it would be a learning curve for me, but I wanted to be that guy people went to for advice whether it’s now, five years, 10 years, 15 or 20 years down the road,” he said. “Even if it’s something that I don’t directly benefit from, I wanted to be known as that kind of resource.

“I do whatever I can to let everyone know that while my career is in a for-profit setting, my passion lies in my concern for the advancement of my community. I am active in the West Little Rock Rotary and serve on various boards and commissions. I can only hope that being a visible figure in the community is something that sets me apart from everyone else.”

Hudson’s first customers were professionals who remembered him from his previous roles and he quickly found that a happy professional represented tremendous advertising potential within a given industry.

“I do customer appreciation and networking events, sometimes at my office, sometimes I might partner with a client and host it at their location,” he said. “It has to be meaningful. I’m not just doing an event because they say ‘Hey, let’s do an event.’ Even if you’re not in a sales role directly, you’re not getting paid unless a transaction happens somewhere.

“If I can create a platform for people to make quality connections with one another, they’re going to remember where they met each other. I feel like if you’re out of sight you’re out of mind, especially in this industry.”