Take a look at a how a house is built and you will quickly see the importance of starting off with a solid foundation.  For those working in real estate, that foundation is your database, and the best place to start building a solid database, is by working with your Sphere of Influence (SOI).

Everyone, no matter what stage in business they are at, has a SOI.  Family, friends, previous clients (even if from another business), previous business associates, school mates, people you play sports with…. you get the idea.  Your SOI are people that you know, and by virtue, have influence over.  And for that reason, they are the perfect place to start when building a client base of repeat and referral business.

I would venture to guess that only 25% of agents have a complete SOI list, and only half of those actually work their SOI from a “true” systems approach when it comes to prospecting.  In order to be successful at working a SOI system, you need stop praying they will call you, and start identifying that these people are a valuable resource for both future business and referral business, and that you need to start communicating and staying in touch in order to stay top of mind. (That also means acknowledging and expressing gratitude when you receive business either from them or through them).

For newly licensed realtors, your SOI will be your most valuable source for practice and potential business.  How many of you have personally called everyone on your list to let them know you are now in real estate? Have you asked them for an opportunity to come over and provide them with a quick – no obligation – presentation of what you do?  Not only will this offer you plenty of practice in honing your presentation skills, but it will offer you the opportunity to show them what you have to offer with the potential of receiving their business and/or referral business.

By establishing a systems approach to working with your SOI, you are ensuring that anybody new you meet will be communicated with consistently as well.  The biggest complaint in our industry is lack of communication and lack of proper follow up.  Think of all the potential business that gets wasted because you simply “forget”  to follow up and keep in touch.  By following a system, you are investing in the foundation of your business, one that will solidify your future success.

Simple System for Working your SOI

1) Create a list: Seems easy enough but this can be a daunting task, if you don’t know where to start. To make it easy, imagine you are getting married, or throwing a party – who would you invite? It’s probably best to avoid the pen/paper format, as you will only have to duplicate your work once you transfer the information to a CRM program.  The most inexpensive and easily accessible solutions are MS Outlook, Excel, or Google apps.  Their file formats make it easy to import into a CRM program down the road, and because it’s electronic, you have ease of use when making changes, sorting names and adding information.

2) Compile details about everyone on your list: Most realtors stop at Name, address, email, telephone number and birthdate.  But there is so much more information you should have on hand, that will enhance your ability to communicate with them down the road.  Things like; stage of life (college/university, single, married, divorced, widowed, retired), interests, children’s names/birthdates, sports/hobbies etc. A few years ago, this may have meant you would have to personally call and ask them specific questions, but thanks to social media, you have a lot of this information at your fingertips.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest, will offer you a glimpse into their lives.  Are they into cars? Fitness? Sports? Are they animal lovers? What holidays do they celebrate? Even their birthdates and relationship status’ can be found.  However you decide to go about it, collect as much information as you can and add it to your list. It will help you to generate ideas when trying to think of ways to stay in touch.  A simple, random email when you come across an article you think your client might like is a great way to keep in touch without it always being focused on real estate.  After all, we are in a relationship business.  Its about being personal as much as it is being professional.

3) Initiate contact: If you are new to the business, I would suggest the best place to start is to send a personalized letter or card to everyone letting them know what you are up to.  If you have been in the business a while but have never really contacted them, perhaps a personal phone call to check in and see how things are going, offering your assistance or asking for a referral.  Yes, believe it or not, you must ask for a referral.  You would be surprised how it is not an automatic thought on people’s minds.  Ask, and you shall receive.

4) Map out your communication: I usually suggest a large year-at-a-glance calendar that you can post up on your wall. In each of the months, write out some ideas of how and what you would like to communicate.  Perhaps in January, you call them to wish them a Happy New Year. February, you could mail out a list of community events being held on the Family Day weekend.  March,  you could drop off something green for St. Patrick’s Day. April, you could send out your quarterly newsletter etc….

5) Create your to-do list: Working at least a month in advance, start to prepare any materials you will require ie: newsletters, pop-by gifts, holiday cards, birthday cards etc.  It might seem like a lot of work, but once you have a plan in place, it is just a matter of tweaking it for the coming years. From there, you can start to build action items into your daily schedule.  How many people are you going to call today? How many pop-by’s are you going to make?

The system can be as simple or as complex as you decide to make it.  The key is consistency.