Every real estate agent, no matter how fresh or seasoned, has a powerful resource that could win more business -- and most agents aren’t taking full advantage of this resource. When neglected, leads and clients slip right through your fingertips; when leveraged correctly, it will increase your (free!) referral network and help you make more money and close more deals.
What is this miracle resource? Nothing more than the agent’s sphere of influence, the network of people who already know, like and trust that agent.
This might seem elementary, but it’s astonishing how many agents work on growing their sphere of influence yet don’t have a good system for keeping in touch with the people already in that sphere. When they don’t make a conscious effort to maintain contact with every person in that sphere, then they’re not usually top-of-mind when a person in that sphere gets ready to buy or sell a house.
How do you make sure you’re leveraging your sphere of influence? Here’s a basic rundown of how you keep the people in your sphere engaged and interested in you.
Know who’s in your sphere of influence …
A sphere of influence usually contains lots of people from different areas of life. Your sphere might encompass your family, neighbors, former co-workers from another industry, church members, gym buddies -- it contains everybody who not only knows you, but knows you well enough to trust you with a real estate transaction.
You probably already know that you don’t talk to a casual church or gym acquaintance in the same way you speak with your siblings or cousins. Similarly, you don’t want to engage with former buyer clients who are ready to list a house in the same way you’d engage with a first-time buyer. Taking some time to segment your sphere of influence might seem like a pain, but it has huge benefits. When you know who you’re talking to, you can craft a message that they’ll want to hear. It’s a lot tougher to engage your audience when you’re trying to talk to everybody about everything at once.
… And know what they’re doing
Nothing makes people feel quite as special as attention does. Consider which message is more powerful:
- “Do you know anybody looking to buy or sell a house who might need my help?”
- “I saw you just adopted a dog -- congratulations! How’s the yard working out so far? Do you think you might need some assistance finding a place with more room?”
Hopefully, everybody in your network already knows that you sell real estate, so reminding them constantly that you sell real estate isn’t all that helpful to your business. Take the time to keep up with the people in your sphere and take notes on what they’re doing. It will help you touch base with them in a way that’s truly engaging instead of potentially mildly annoying.
Many agents use a CRM to segment and manage their spheres of influence. If you have a CRM, use it to document the news and events happening to the individuals in your sphere -- and if you don’t use a CRM yet, it’s probably time to seriously consider one. And as technology continues to improve and refine, you can expect to see new products on the market that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to help you manage your network and fill in any data gaps.
Connect on social media
Keeping tabs on your sphere was a lot more difficult before social media. If you want to know what big events are happening in the lives of the people in your network, you already know where to go -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on. Make sure you’re connected to the people in your sphere so it’s relatively easy to look up what (and how) they’re doing.
Be in the know and share what you know
If your area has a local newspaper (or better yet, a business journal) and you don’t already subscribe, then it’s time to start brushing up on what’s happening. One of the best ways to engage your sphere is to give them a piece of information or news that’s interesting, relevant and that they haven’t yet heard. Start spending some time every day to dig into the news and events in your area, and then think about which people in your sphere might appreciate a quick note about what you’ve learned.
A well-targeted email -- or even a handwritten note with a newspaper clipping (old-school, we know!) -- informing your die-hard baseball fan clients about a new neighborhood sports bar with dozens of TVs will go a lot further than a drip email campaign asking those client if they’re getting ready to sell.
You don’t need to wait till the holiday season to throw a client appreciation party. Think about semi-regular or seasonal events that might interest the people in your sphere. That might be something as simple as a cookout in the park in the summertime or as involved as renting out a local splash park for an evening and inviting everyone in your sphere to come play for free -- you know what the people in your sphere like, so provide it to them!
Events are also a great opportunity to expand your sphere when you open the doors to anybody, so ask your network to bring family and friends, too.
Use pop-bys and direct mail for your ‘power’ sphere
Some people in your sphere of influence are going to be more influential than others. If you get a referral from someone in your sphere, send them a thank-you note with a $5 coffee shop gift card in the mail at the very least. You could also stop by with a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer if you happen to know their favorite varietal or microbrewery.
Focus on what you can do for your sphere -- not the other way around
The most important thing to remember when you’re working your sphere of influence is that you’re trying to show the people in your network that you’re a valuable resource. Of course, getting a lead or a listing out of that activity would be great! But it’s not your primary goal.
Between email, social media, text messages and phone calls, each and every one of us is bombarded with messages every day. It’s often easier to just mass-delete the messages that are trying to sell something instead of decide whether or not that message has any value, so make sure that you’re focusing on value first and foremost. To truly engage your sphere of influence, you need to be reaching out with relevant, interesting messages, and that takes some thought and some work -- but it’s well worth it to keep your name top-of-mind when it comes to real estate.