Kayla Lee is an agent with SERHANT. in New York City. She shares her tips for building your sphere of influence in real estate.
Real estate agents often refer to their network or sphere of influence (SOI). I used to avoid all types of ‘networking’ events — these felt awkward and burdensome. When I did attend, I’d be the wallflower awkwardly trying to act busy looking at the brochures or just eating off a plate —dreading long conversations with strangers.
I wondered why this even mattered and how others looked so natural and comfortable making new acquaintances, while I felt like I was in the most uncomfortable box with strangers surrounding me. I couldn’t wait to leave —but more importantly —I didn’t recognize the value of meeting new people or associating with potential networking groups.
- Building your sphere of influence doesn’t have to be daunting
- Everyone can expand their SOI (even introverts!)
- You can take transactional “networking” out of the mix (and still succeed)
- Focus on building long-term relationships
- Follow up and track your efforts
What is a sphere of influence in real estate?
A sphere of influence or SOI in real estate refers to all the key contacts with whom a real estate professional maintains relationships. It includes past and current clients, friends, family, colleagues, and other individuals in the real estate industry. Building and nurturing a strong SOI in real estate is crucial because these are the people who can provide referrals, repeat business, and recommendations — which are essential for a successful career.
Continuous effort is required to stay connected with your sphere through regular communication, networking events, social media, and other means to ensure that you remain top-of-mind and continue to receive business opportunities from your SOI. Successful real estate agents run their business through building and maintaining, and then growing relationships — not making business merely transactional.
7 proven ways to expand your sphere of influence
Here are some useful tips for successfully building your sphere of influence in real estate. We’ve put together a mnemonic to help you easily remember the initial steps (SS, RR, MM, EE).
1. Sow the seeds (or SS): Who do you already know?
A sphere of influence should start with people you know. Your family and friends, social groups (FB/ IG), your local school teachers (especially if you’re a parent), neighbors, your accountant, attorney, doorman, etc. It’s easiest to start with people you have existing relationships with or people who already recognize you.
Building these relationships starts with a simple conversation. But remember, your first contact doesn’t have to mention real estate or be a sales call. Your goal is to create and build a long-term relationship.
Begin by reaching out to friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances who may be interested in also expanding their network. Many other real estate agents have a different mindset and try to engage only with people who are interested in real estate or know someone who is. But it’s important to note here that everyone needs a home – whether it’s purchased, leased or eventually sold.
Don’t limit yourself to meeting only with people who are immediately looking to purchase, rent or sell!
2. Request referrals (or RR)
Don’t just rely on your immediate circle of contacts. Ask for referrals, meet in groups, or set up events (large or small) where a group of like-minded people can form naturally. Having coffee or a group Zoom call with a theme can bring people together.
Start a book club or an art appreciation group with regular visits to galleries or museums. Whatever you’re interested in, you can likely find others in your community who have similar interests. Start a seminar series for small groups to help them learn about real estate and investing. Note: there will be many people who may not want to join or people who feel you may come across as a pushy salesperson. The key here is to keep the introduction or meeting light, personal, and most importantly, genuine.
3. Market to the masses (or MM)
Cast a wide net via strategic marketing — whether it’s your Instagram feed, Facebook posts or LinkedIn articles. Post genuine storylines or items of interest. As an example, if you love outdoor family activities, choose fun, spontaneous photos or posts and you will attract others with similar interests.
I attract local moms who reach out because they relate to me. While they ask about properties, they also ask about parks, family-friendly features of buildings or in the neighborhoods they’re interested in. And they feel like they know me a little, putting them one step closer to trusting me for professional guidance.
Posting funny videos or memes may attract people with the same sense of humor. The focus is on relatability and likeability. After all, real estate is a relationship business and people want to work with people they like.
Leverage social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, to connect with your SOI. Share engaging content, respond to comments, and interact with your audience regularly.
4. Every event (or EE)
Take advantage of events. Personally, I like to volunteer with various groups. I like to involve my family members—especially my kids. When we volunteer as a group, a lot happens. My kids learn to give back and appreciate the little things they may have started to take for granted. But they also make friends and great connections.
On my part, I meet a lot of different people as a volunteer — from the event organizers to the other volunteers. It’s amazing to be working together for a common cause or goal with complete strangers.
What I love about networking via volunteering sessions is that most people who volunteer are giving their time, energy and money to do good. I end up meeting really nice, warm-hearted people.
It is important that you are registering to volunteer for the right reason and not just to collect contact information. But volunteering and widening your network — wha could be better?
Participating in local real estate events, community gatherings, and industry conferences also helps to expand your network. Engage in conversations, exchange business cards, and follow up with potential contacts afterward!
5. Build connection
Building a sphere of influence in real estate requires continuous effort and relationship-building. After making the initial contact or connection, make sure to keep track of important information to keep the relationship in growth mode. Focus on ensuring your relationships are always deepening and becoming more meaningful. An easy way to do this is to log all your new contacts in your CRM. More on this in a minute.
6. Track your SOI in your CRM
What’s the point of a contact if you don’t track it? Build up your contact list in your CRM by noting the basics about everyone you meet, including their name, phone number, email address and how you know them. Are they a friend from school, your CPA or someone your friend Laura introduced you to? Make note of it.
As your relationship develops, make some miscellaneous notes, entering unique details about your contact. For example, if they have four children, note their kids’ names, ages, and where they attend school. If a new friend loves a nice full-bodied red wine, is an Aries like me, and lives in the Upper East Side, then I jot that down in their CRM profile.
7. Follow up consistently
You’ve laid down the first bridge but now you have to keep the relationship in growth mode. Try to create a plan for touchpoints with your new contacts in a specific timeframe. For example, I like to calendar some ‘reach-outs’ once a quarter for some clients – and other prospects and leads receive outreach twice a year. I’ll send them my newsletter of email updates, so we are continuing to keep in touch.
Regularly communicate with your sphere of influence through various channels such as phone calls, emails, social media, text messages or in-person meetings. Keep them updated on market trends, new listings in their area of interest, and any relevant information that might be of interest to them.
8. Always provide value
Offer your expertise and assistance to your SOI. Share valuable information, market updates, and tips related to real estate on social media, in your newsletter, and on your website. This helps establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource and builds trust.
The full picture: Build a strong sphere of influence
Remember, building a strong SOI takes time and consistent effort. By nurturing relationships, providing value, and staying top-of-mind, you can expand your network and generate valuable referrals for your real estate career.