How to Jumpstart Your Real Estate Sphere of Influence – SOI
First, realize that you already have a sphere of influence. You have family, friends, old schoolmates, previous business associates, soccer buddies, and more. These are people that know you, and just because of that, you have some influence on them.
Throughout your career in real estate, you should always have a plan to grow this group and implement it faithfully. It will become a huge source of repeat and referral business over time.
Get Your Current List All in One Place
This is a big task, but it's important and begs planning to avoid duplicate work later. You'll be surprised at how large a list you can come up with when you start pulling in your friends, old classmates, sports team members, business associates, your doctor, lawyer, and others.
What is important is to hopefully start with something more than a list on paper. If you use Outlook in your computer, use the contacts database or another like it to get these people into a system for management. Today's technology and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and online systems make this a much easier and more efficient task.
Make Contact the Way You Usually Do
You want to communicate effectively but also save some money. There are plenty of advisors out there that will have you develop a really nice letter in envelopes and mail via first-class mail. This may be how you do it for some of your lists.
However, if you're making a really large contact list, many of them will be people you usually talk to via email, text messaging, or phone. It's OK to contact them the way you always have. Just split your list into groups by contact method.
Categorize Your List by How You Know Your Contacts
As you progress in your career and your knowledge of contact management, you'll find that you want to have certain common types by which to identify contacts. Go ahead and start working toward that now. If you're using Outlook, you can use the "Categories" function for this.
You would have categories for Friends, Family, Vendors (doctor, lawyer, local grocer,etc.), Buyer Prospect, Seller Prospect, etc. The buyer and seller prospect categories are for those new ones you're about to get. Segment your contacts and prospects into logical groups that you would market to in specific ways.
Develop Your Announcement and Send it Out
If you're contacting via several methods, such as some email, some mail, and some phone, develop scripts for each, letting them know about your new business. It's as simple as: "Hi XXX, I've started a new career and wanted to let you know about it. I've gotten my license and I'm now a real estate agent with XXXX Brokerage in town. Please give me a boost by thinking of me if you're planning a real estate transaction or recommending me to those you know." Don't forget your contact info.
Whatever you do, if you get a response, you need to reply back to them and thank them. You're beginning a relationship that can lead to money in the bank, so start it out on the right foot.
Plan Ongoing Contact and Do It!
Now that you've sent out your "new agent career" announcement to your SOI, make a plan for how often you want to contact them. This can vary by type, such as family will not need a lot of follow-ups. Follow the plan and make regular contact. There's nothing worse than finding out a good friend bought a home elsewhere because they forgot about that first announcement a year ago.
Do Some Quick List-Building Activities
Get started immediately in adding to your sphere of influence list. Get involved in community activities, go to homeowner association meetings, give out your business card to the person behind the dry cleaner counter. If you go for coffee in the mornings alone, stop getting a table and sit at the counter. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you.