Growing your sphere doesn’t have to be difficult. Learn how simple it can be to tap into this important marketing resource.
In almost every real estate training seminar you attend or book you read, Realtors are told that they need to “work their sphere of influence.” For many of you, the thought of networking or calling acquaintances makes you cringe… am I right? But if you look at the recent stats from the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, a whopping 68% of home sellers who used a real estate agent found them through a referral by friends or family.
We don’t want you to miss out on potential referrals this year. so we’re going to break down (in bite-sized manageable chunks) how to build your sphere of influence and how to connect with them in meaningful, authentic ways.
- Identifying Your Sphere
- Gathering Contact Information
- Organizing Your Sphere Data
- Growing Your SOI
- Segmenting Your Sphere into Groups
- Putting a Plan in Place to Connect with Your SOI
- Sphere of Influence Marketing Ideas
Starting from Scratch: Identify Your Sphere
Your sphere includes everyone you know and all those with whom you come into contact on a fairly consistent basis. You don’t have to have thousands of people in your sphere. Focusing on 100 to 200 people who already know and trust you and would possibly refer clients to you is key.
Not sure know how to start building your list? We recommend scrolling through your phone and/or social media followers and writing down everyone you know. This includes:
- Past Buyer / Seller Clients
- Former classmates who live in the area
- Colleagues at your spouse’s work
- Parents at your kid’s school
- People from your gym, local sports team or play group
- Connections in your Facebook groups
- People who attend the same church or synagogue
- Local businesses or services you frequently use:
- Hairdresser or Barber
- Barista at Coffee Shop
- CPA and/or Financial Planner
- Electrician and/or Plumber
- Doctor and/or Dentist
- Masseuse and/or Chiropractor
- Interior Designer
PRO TIP: As you go through the list of all the people you know, get your mindset right. Many new agents undermine their marketing efforts by being too shy or afraid of “bothering” people. In other words, don’t be a secret agent. If someone doesn’t want to receive your marketing email, they’ll unsubscribe. If they don’t want to receive your mailer, they’ll throw it away. It’s better to reach out to too many people than to reach out to too few.
Gather Information on Your SOI
Now that you have your list, you can start building a profile for each person in your sphere. Gather contact information, beginning with their phone number, email address, and social media handles, then obtain their mailing address if possible.
Once you have the basics, you can start adding other relevant information to their profile including birthdays, anniversaries, name of spouse and/or children, pets names, and other relevant information as it comes up. This gives you yet another way to reach out and “touch” your sphere and the members of their families.
TIP: If you don’t have the mailing address for many of the people in your SOI, send them a text before the holidays and let them know you’re getting your holiday cards ready and needed an updated address. For those of you that would normally feel uncomfortable asking for someone’s home address, the holidays can be the perfect excuse and won’t make you feel like a creepy salesperson!
Find a System to Store Your SOI Data
Your brokerage will probably provide you with a CRM or Customer Relationship Management platform where you will store all the information you gather on your sphere of influence. This should be integrated with marketing options for emailing, texting, messaging, or creating mailers and other graphic items designed to help you communicate effectively with your sphere. If you don’t have a CRM, you can organize your information in a spreadsheet or in the audience of an email platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
If you’re a new real estate agent and/or don’t have the budget for a robust CRM system, please don’t let that stop you from building your sphere of influence list. You could easily use a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets) to include phone numbers, addresses, and other important information that will help you connect with them in the years to come.
Reaching out: Growing Your Sphere
Prioritize the growth and development of your sphere of influence, both by adding to the information you have on current members and by adding new contacts. If you meet a new friend at the golf course, add that person to your sphere. When you have a new home buyer lead, add them to your sphere. If you’re on social media and connect with someone, add their handle to your CRM. Make updating and adding to your SOI part of your routine, as important as bookkeeping or transaction management.
First Contact with Your Sphere of Influence
There are 101 ways to start connecting with the people in your SOI. We recommend keeping it simple, authentic, and PERSONAL. You could send them a handwritten note or a holiday card with your real estate logo. The easiest way to start connecting is to visit their social media pages and comment on their posts. Another option is to just pick up the phone and call them to say “hello” and see how they’re doing. If you have people in your sphere who are particularly well-connected or interested in real estate, set up a coffee date!
The goal is to reach out in a way that feels organic and authentic. You want to establish new relationships and enhance your current ones.
Segmenting Your SOI
One way to ensure that the content and communication you send is always meaningful, relevant, and engaging is by segmenting your sphere of influence. You may want to segment your list in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Personal vs. Professional Contacts
- Local vs. Out-of-town Contacts
- Leads vs. Current Clients vs. Past Clients
- Close contacts vs. Acquaintances
- Online vs. IRL Friends
You will also want to categorize your leads by urgency. For example, those who want to buy now vs. those who are on the fence. The more you can categorize the members of your sphere, the easier it will be to find reasons to reach out to them.
PRO TIP: Take a look at your SOI and find 10 to 25 people who are most likely to refer business to you. These could be some of your closest friends or people who are influencers and are actively involved in the community. Once you have that “A-List” you can create a specific plan to connect with them several times throughout the year. Keep reading for some ideas to engage and stay top of mind with your A-Listers….
Putting It To Work: Optimizing Your Sphere
You’ve put together the information you need, reached out for the first time, and segmented your list for more relevant communication. Now it’s time to optimize the SOI information you’ve gathered so that you can consistently market to people who know, like, and trust you already.
Remember, it’s easier to convert a warm lead (someone you know) than a cold one (a stranger from the internet or social media). This is especially true when you’re first starting out in real estate. Be sure to reach out on a consistent basis to your sphere in the following ways:
- Send monthly eNewsletters to your SOI to share information about the current real estate market, homeowner tips, local developments, neighborhood events, featured listings, client testimonials, etc.
- Spend 15 to 20 minutes each day commenting on your sphere’s social media posts
- Phone calls or in-person meetups with your most engaged members to touch base or follow up on other communications.
- Handwritten notes to your closest contacts for special occasions, congratulations, and thank yous with email blasts or social media outreach to more distant acquaintances.
- Send out holiday cards each year — we recommend sending Thanksgiving or New Year cards because won’t get lost in the holiday shuffle
- If you’re invited to an event that members of your sphere are attending, be sure to make an appearance and have a one-on-one conversation with each person in your sphere.
- Follow-up communication to past clients to keep them engaged and to stay top of mind. (Remember, it’s cheaper to retain a satisfied client than to cultivate a new one!)
- Communication and invitations for client or SOI appreciation events.
Marketing to your A-List
While the 10 to 25 people on your A-List will receive your monthly eNewsletter, holiday cards, etc you want to do a few more things to show them how much you value your relationship and stay top of mind. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Call them to check in at least once a year
- Send birthday cards
- Invite them to coffee or dinner
- If you both have kids or dogs, invite them to the playground or the dog park
- Get a season pass for two to the local sports team (football, hockey, basketball) and offer them tickets
- Invite to holiday parties or fundraisers you’re hosting
- Mail and/or drop off small gifts throughout the year – this could be a St. Patty’s Day card with a lottery ticket, 4th of July sparklers for the kids, a pumpkin in October, and holiday ornaments or baked gifts. There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest – just search “pop by gift ideas for realtors” and we promise that you’ll be inspired!
The key to having a successful real estate business building REAL relationships with people in your community. You need to add value, share your expertise (when needed), and have some fun experiences with the friends and acquaintances who are in your SOI. It’s not about handing out your business card to everyone you meet and hoping that the phone rings.
If you put in the work early in your career and consistently strive to connect with your sphere, you’ll be amazed at the number of referrals you’ll receive each year.
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