Top performing real estate agents typically employ a blend of strategies to drive their business. Some rely heavily on working with expired listings, while others find gold in FSBOs. But nearly all successful agents understand the value of the database known as their sphere of influence (SOI).

In the broadest sense, your SOI is comprised of nearly everyone who knows, likes and trusts you. These are people with whom you have some level of rapport, such as:

  • Your extended families of aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins.
  • Personal friends.
  • Your neighbors.
  • Colleagues from previous jobs.
  • Your spouse’s friends, family members and work colleagues who you’ve come to know.
  • Acquaintances from health clubs, church, civic organizations, volunteer groups.
  • Professional acquaintances, such as your accountant, dentist or car mechanic.

More narrowly, your SOI also consists of those former clients with whom you’ve had a positive experience, either as a seller or buyer agent.

Combined, your SOI database represents a rich, and potentially profitable, source of referrals and recommendations. Just think, if you only had 100 people in your Espresso Agent SOI database, and those people know 100 people, that’s a potential referral base of 10,000 people. Estimates vary, but some agents generate between 50-60 percent of their annual revenue from their SOI.

But here’s the thing: anybody can build a large and impressive database of contacts, and call it their SOI. It’s not the number of people in your database that counts, it’s what you do to nurture those contacts so that your name is always top-of-mind when someone they know needs the services of a real estate pro.

Perhaps you spend time each day with SOI outreach, just to keep in touch and remind them that you’re out there. You are NOT selling, but making contact. Some of the other things you can do to nurture your SOI include:

  • Client appreciation events, which can even include those in your SOI who may not be past clients, but with whom you’ve build a special connection. An example might be a March Madness event at a local bar.
  • Seasonal activities and outreach, such as sending an email in March with your personal recommendations for landscapers or suggestions where someone can get the best deals on plants for the new season. The more you know about your contacts, the more you can tailor your outreach to deliver value to them.
  • Fundraising or charitable events represent an opportunity to reach out to your SOI, either to seek donation, or, better yet, to ask if someone can volunteer their time.
  • Of course, for those SOI contacts with whom you’ve build an on-going relationship, one-on-one meetings can be effective, such as lunch or a morning coffee.
  • Social media posting is an effective way to both keep your name in the marketplace for your current SOI, but also connect you to those who you might want to add to your SOI.

In addition to nurturing those already in your SOI database, remember to always look for opportunities to expand that list:

  • Wear your “brand” (buttons, shirts, etc.) when you’re shopping or at your kid’s soccer match.
  • Engage on social media, with comments, likes and shares.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to people, in line at the grocery store, at the health club…wherever the opportunity presents itself for some one-on-one chat.
  • Always, always have your business card handy, and don’t miss an opportunity to hand it out. For example, some agents always leave their business card when they pay their check at a restaurant.
  • Be active in your community.

Remember, a well-managed sphere of influence can pay huge dividends for years to come. Keep at it.