If you’re a real estate agent who hates building your sphere of influence (SOI), you’re not alone. A Harvard study showed that networking actually made people feel dirty—physically dirty! But the 2023 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Member survey found that Realtors get 19% of their business through referrals from their sphere—that’s nearly a fifth. 

Does this mean top agents just suck it up and feel dirty to get ahead? Or are they all extroverts who love to schmooze? The answer to these questions, of course, is no. They just learned smarter ways to build and maintain their spheres. To get you started, we put together a list of eight creative ways to build your sphere of influence in real estate. But first, let’s take a look at what we mean when we talk about your sphere of influence.

What Is a Sphere of Influence in Real Estate?

A real estate agent’s sphere of influence (SOI) is made up of the people they’re personally connected with and have a reasonable chance of influencing with their real estate expertise. People in your sphere include your friends, family, former clients, and their contacts. In other words, a friend of a friend or a family member of a friend is also in your sphere of influence.

How Do I Build My Real Estate Sphere of Influence? 

We’ve put together this simple checklist to help you get started. Once you’ve got these strategies in place, you can use our top tips below to level up your sphere!

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What do you need to get started?
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Gather contact info. Start with their phone number, email, home address, and birthday (Facebook can be great for that last piece of data).
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Set your budget. Once you know what you have to spend per month, you can work backward on figuring out the best bang for your buck.
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Launch your strategy. Are you planning to call your sphere once per quarter? Send out magnets featuring local sports schedules? Handwritten letters? Remember, you should aim for at least one touch per month.
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Execute and follow up. If you want to boost attendance at your next SOI event, for example, reach out to your sphere with a phone call after you’ve invited them. This double-tap method will increase your attendance and help you stand out.

8 Tips for Expanding Your Sphere of Influence

1. Write a Great Pitch Email for Your List (Script)

While having someone in your sphere follow you on social media is great, getting into their inbox is better. Convincing someone to opt in to your email newsletter list isn’t easy, but it is much, much easier if you already have a connection with them—even just on social media. Here’s a template for a persuasive email to ask them to sign up:

Related Article
26 Best Email Templates for Real Estate Leads

2. Recognize the Power of Positive Reviews to Snag Leads Before They Go to Zillow

If you’re still only getting reviews on Zillow, you might be in for a rude awakening in 2023. No, Zillow’s not going away, even if half the agents we know wish it would. But there’s a bigger shift happening that most agents aren’t ready for: According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2022 profile of homebuyers and sellers, 73% of buyers start their home search on a search engine like Google, not Zillow.

That means agents who put in the time and effort to rank on Google are going to start snapping up the best leads before they get to Zillow. The problem? Ranking on Google is hard for individual agents.

If you want to make it easier, a reputation management platform like Birdeye can help. Birdeye makes it easy to get more reviews on more websites with less work. On average, agents using Birdeye saw a 420% increase in reviews.

Visit Birdeye

3. Not an Extrovert? Focus on Learning, Not Selling

While some agents take to networking events like fish to water, others would rather get a root canal than schmooze in a room full of strangers. Luckily, a simple shift in mindset can make networking much easier.

All you need to do is focus on what you can learn from the people you will meet rather than the potential business you can get. So instead of saying to yourself, “I am going to promote myself and get 10 leads tonight!” say something like, “Maybe I will meet people who can help me become a better agent and better person tonight.” 

Remember, it’s all about mindset. As Dale Carnegie once wrote: “To be interesting, be interested.”

Related Article
The Pivot: Do Introverts Make Better Real Estate Agents?

4. Dig Deep Into Every Contact & Connection

While networking may not be your speed, keep in mind how many people you encounter in a given week. I’m talking your dentist, your babysitter, your neighbors, and parents you see at kids’ events. Aunts, grandparents, and even old coworkers are great potential clients. 

Start by making a list of every person in your phone that you’ve spoken with in the last two years. Get them loaded into your customer relationship manager (CRM) or even just a spreadsheet to start compiling your list. Ask yourself: Who did you see at an event recently? Are you a regular at a small business? What about your spouse or significant other’s mutual friends? 

Focus on people you know and continue to grow your connections. Facebook and social media groups are another great way to jog your memory on your potential reach.

📌   Pro Tip

Not sure what to say? Start with the FORD topical acronym: family, occupation, recreation and dreams.

5. Volunteer in Your Local Community

Volunteers Building a House

Volunteering at your local church, synagogue, mosque, school, or food kitchen is another great way to build your sphere of influence. As a bonus, even if you strike out making new contacts, you will end up helping the people in your community who need it most.

Even better, studies show that 72% of wealthy people volunteer at least five hours per week. That means your fellow volunteers will have a better-than-average chance of owning a home and possibly needing your real estate services. Many friendly conversations with strangers eventually turn to work—focus on the relationships and the real estate conversations will come.

6. Center Your Brand’s Mission, Vision & Values

Another simple mindset shift that can make networking to build your sphere less awful is to center your mission, vision, and values. For this to work, you’ll need to have a mission that’s a little deeper than “I want to make more money.”

For example, top agent and Close contributor Sean Moudry’s mission is “to help people in Boulder, Colorado, build generational wealth through real estate.” So when Sean heads out to a networking event or a dinner party, he is not trying to sell himself, get more clients, or even build his sphere. He is trying to help people in Boulder, Colorado, build generational wealth through real estate. It’s a subtle difference—but a powerful one.

Related Article
Craft an Inspiring Real Estate Mission Statement

7. Join Local Subreddits

With more than 52 million active daily users, Reddit is a sleeping giant for real estate agents who want to expand their sphere. Reddit’s communities, called subreddits, are organized around millions of topics, many of them focused on cities and towns. Chances are, there is a subreddit for your town and maybe even your farm area. Even better, getting noticed on these subreddits can be much easier than getting seen on Facebook Groups.

For example, the subreddit /r/NYC has 862,000 members, but some posts make it to the front page with fewer than 30 upvotes. That means you only need to get a handful of people to like your post in order to get in front of thousands of New York City residents. The subreddit for Portland, Maine, /r/portlandme, has 35,000 members, and you can get onto the front page with less than a dozen upvotes.

Just keep in mind that the hard sell is not going to work on Reddit. You need to build trust first. The only way to build your sphere on Reddit is to genuinely engage with the community and only offer to help solve people’s problems when they ask. Eventually, you will become a trusted resource in the community.

📌   Pro Tip

According to NAR, the percentage of business agents get from referrals quadruples when they hit the three-year mark, from 4% for new agents up to 17%.

8. Add Personal Information About Your Sphere to Your CRM

If you want to get business from your sphere, you can’t just blast out real estate facts all day. If you do, you’ll get ignored, then abandoned. Instead, you need to make—and more importantly, nurture—personal connections. To do this successfully, share things they care about. As Close contributor Beverly Ruffner often says, “Don’t give steak to a vegetarian.”

Adding personal information about hobbies, pets, family, or other interests to the contacts in your customer relationship manager (CRM) helps you deliver appropriate narratives to them. Want to share news about a new dog run being built in your town? Filter your CRM to create a mailing list of the contacts who love dogs. Got tickets to a baseball game to give away? Use your filter to find former clients who love baseball.

Related Article
The 10 Best Real Estate CRMs of 2024

Bonus Tip: Keep Your Sphere a Manageable Size

Most new agents think that they need hundreds or even thousands of people in their sphere of influence to get new business and referrals. They’ve been taught that real estate is a numbers game, and the more people they can influence, the more money they will make. This is not realistic or practical for most agents.

Infographic depicting Dunbar's Number: the maximum number of relationships a person can maintain

Most social scientists today rely on Dunbar’s number, which says the average person cannot maintain relationships with more than 150 people at any given time. Since your sphere of influence will include second-order connections (friends of friends), a healthy size for your sphere of influence should be around 300 people.

Thousands of people in your database is just a vanity metric. It won’t help your business. If you have people on your email list who never open emails or respond to texts or calls, delete them and use the other tips in this article to replace them with people who will engage with you.

Related Article
Lead Nurturing: Tools & Strategies for Conversion (+ Scripts)

Why Is a Real Estate Sphere of Influence Important? 

At this point, you probably understand that your sphere should be a key pillar of your business. However, it’s important to note that referral business keeps growing. NAR noted that in 2022, 51% of agent business came from repeat business and referrals. Keep your clients engaged and you’ll be rewarded.

Still not convinced that your sphere of influence matters? Check out this anecdote from The Close writer and coach Trevor James.

Trevor James, Content Writer & Coach, The Close

“I received an online lead in 2017 and helped him purchase his first townhome. Two years later, he was ready to upgrade, and I was able to help him sell the first place and buy his new place. A year later, his parents were ready to sell their $1 million home and they used me. Another year after that, my client got married and I helped him move again to upgrade to a single-family home. Because of that one client, I ended up with five transactions and nearly $25k in commissions. If I hadn’t stayed in touch, he probably would have used someone else. But those referrals don’t come in your first year or two. It’s a snowball effect over time.”

Over to You

Have a great tip to help expand your sphere of influence in real estate? Let us know in the comment section.

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