5 Strategies for Real Estate Agents to Build a Better Sphere of Influence
You probably never even heard the term until you became a real estate agent. But once you became one, you were probably told how important it is to build and nurture your very own “sphere of influence.”
The problem is, people tend to be pretty loose with the term and definition. Who should be considered part of it? Your friends and family? Neighbors? Local business people? Basically anyone you meet? Sure, any of those types of contacts are potentially worthy of being part of your sphere, but should they all be? Probably not.
Not everyone is influential, or even just the type of person to recommend you to someone who’s thinking of buying or selling. So, you’re better off being more selective and focused about who you consider to be a part of your sphere of influence. That doesn’t mean disregard anyone who doesn’t make the cut. You can certainly add anyone and everyone to your database to touch on periodically, just don’t lump everyone in as someone who will be a good source of leads.
Your sphere of influence doesn’t need to be huge. Think about the quality of the people (versus the quantity) of people in your sphere. It’s better to have a handful of people who’ll connect you with a ton of business than it is to have a ton of people you barely pay attention to who never actually refer anyone.
That’s not to say you should set a hard limit on how many people are in your sphere. You can certainly add as many people as you want and can pay attention to on a regular (high-touch) basis. But the key is to identify and focus on persons of influence.
Before we get into some strategies for building and nurturing your sphere, let’s get into what you might want to look for when you’re considering if someone is an ideal candidate for your sphere of influence.
Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople
If you haven’t read Malcom Gladwell’s, “The Tipping Point,” it’s a worthwhile read, but for our purposes here, we’re just going to touch on three types of people he defined in the book. To give it some context, the book is about “how little things can make a big difference,” and these are types of personalities to look for if you want to fill your sphere with people who will give you more reach and influence than your average contact.
Connectors: These are well-connected folks who enjoy (and take pride in) connecting the people they know with each other. Connecting with one of them is ideal because your connection with that one person is essentially a gateway to exponential amounts of other people.
Mavens: These are people who love to be in the know and share useful information and knowledge. They take pride in people looking to them for their insight. Find one of them, and you want to feed them with tons of real estate market scoop on getting the best results when you’re buying or selling. But the bigger key to harnessing the power of a maven is for them to know that while you’re a source of insight, you’re also the one who can help people get the results. Think of it as a quid pro quo; you give them info that makes them look and sound smart, and they give you the leads they uncover when people turn to them for their thoughts on real estate.
Salespeople: These are (no surprise) people who are good at persuading others to do stuff. People are almost compelled to do whatever they suggest, and they enjoy wielding that power even when they’re not literally selling a product or service that’ll make them a commission. Get in good with a salesperson and they’ll sell the heck out of you any time someone breathes a word about real estate around them.
So, now that we have a better definition of what and who to look for in an ideal candidate for your sphere of influence, let’s look at 5 strategies for finding them and nurturing relationships with them. While you can certainly just keep your eyes and ears peeled for someone who fits the bill, getting out there and deliberately trying to find and connect with them will help you build your sphere better and more quickly.
1) Join a Networking Group
Whether it’s a national organization, or a local group, find a networking group to join. Some of them only allow one person per specific industry, so it can be hard to find a group to join that doesn’t already have a real estate agent in their group. If you can’t find one to join, consider creating your own and either affiliate with a national chapter, or build one of your own design.
As with life, not everyone in a networking group is actually great at networking. So once you’re in a group, make sure to dig in and identify any Connectors, Mavens, or Salespeople in the group and spend more time building rapport with them than the warm bodies in the room waiting for others to just throw them business.
2) Be a Source of Resource
There’s a lot of directions you can go with this, but generally speaking just think along the lines of what you can do to help someone else help the people they serve. For instance, offer divorce attorneys a booklet they can give their clients on how to deal with selling a house when you’re going through a divorce. Or offer estate planners a booklet with tips on selling the home of a loved one, and dealing with family during the process, or one with tips on downsizing.
Use your imagination and make your knowledge useful to someone who has clients that are likely to need help buying or selling a home!
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Use these as a way to reach out to any number of professionals with an offer to get your foot in the door. Once you get to meet them, assess whether they’ll be a worthwhile connection for you to enter into your sphere. If they are, having a resource that they need you to replenish or supply a link for someone to download will be a good reason to stay in touch with them on a regular basis.
People always recommend volunteering as a way to find business as a real estate agent, but also add in that you shouldn’t do it expecting to get business out of it. It makes sense, but it also seems contradictory or maybe even hypocritical. It’s a fine line. On principle, you probably shouldn’t volunteer just to show up and harass every other volunteer about buying or selling a house.
Instead, volunteer for events and causes you truly want to help with. But, when you’re there, be strategic and on the lookout for any Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople who are there and strike up a conversation with them that’s in line with the type of personality they are.
4) Support Local Business Owners
It can be as simple as doing a short video about their business, or an interview with the owner and posting it on your website or social media. Or a simple rave about a lunch you had at their cafe. Or the best coffee in town. Be their biggest fan. That’ll give you reasons to interact with local business owners and learn if they’re ideal candidates for your sphere.
But you could also take it up a notch by offering to promote their business to your database, email list, or social media followers for free if they have an exclusive deal to offer. This is a great way to potentially get them business and to give your contacts something valuable at the same time.
Here’s another reason to check out our Inner Circle membership. We have a series of email templates for you to choose from that offer deals and coupons for services such as landscapers, handyman, painting, etc. You can use them as a reason to approach local business owners and for content to send to your database.
No matter how you approach it, always keep in mind that you’re looking for better, deeper connections, and focus on the business owners you meet who will best fit into your sphere.
5) Don’t Forget Friends and Family
Most agents probably consider all of their friends and family as part of their “sphere of influence.” As we said, they can be, but all of them aren’t necessarily going to be great sources of leads. So while you should definitely always market to your friends and family, don’t treat each and every one of them as part of your sphere of influence. That said, take a closer look at your friends and family in a different light. Who do you know that fits the bill? Identify them and focus on them as part of your sphere.
Those should get you on your way to developing a strong sphere of influence. Strive for quality over quantity with as many ideal people as you can comfortably keep in touch with on a regular basis. If you’re connecting with the right people, you won’t even need tons of people in your sphere! Just make sure to spend time nurturing your key influencers on a regular basis, not just trying to add more and more to your sphere.