Are You Tired of Pestering Strangers for Business?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

In response to Loreena Yeo's blog, Do You SOI?...

Nine Reasons to "SOI"

1. Generating business from your Sphere of Influence is fun. A good SOI business model includes lunch dates, housewarming parties, afternoon BBQs, friendly email exchanges, cocktails and football games. Conversely, mass marketing to strangers involves stuffing envelopes, paying for postcards, licking stamps, disturbing day-sleepers, shaking off rejection and designing newspaper ads.

2. Generating business from your Sphere of Influence is relatively cheap. Getting your SOI campaign up and running will cost you a few pennies, but no where near what you'll spend promoting yourself to strangers. You'll probably need to design, print and mail a newsletter or two, which might run you around $500 depending on the size of your SOI. You'll probably do Christmas cards and send out some cute "Spring Forward!"-type postcards a few times a year. You might create some high quality magnets and implement a strategy to encourage referrals. You might want to send birthday and anniversary cards, and to invest in a good website and email stationary.

But otherwise, all the money you spend marketing to your SOI will be used on entertainment! Hot wings and beer on Sunday afternoon! All-you-can-eat jumbo shrimp at your house on Friday night! Sushi and sake after work with your best friend!

3. Implementing an SOI business model encourages good habits. When you commit to developing and maintaining a contact database, you're always aware of the new people that you meet. You remember to ask for and write down their contact information, and to input it into your management system. Because the success of your business depends on keeping your SOI current, you tend to be more vigilant with updates (even if you aren't perfect).

You don't forget about the nice lady you met last week at your friend's pool party who said she'd like to talk to you about buying an investment property. You can even find her phone number!

4. An SOI business model minimizes rejection. I don't think anyone, even the most outgoing, charismatic sales dynamo enjoys rejection. Sure, maybe you can develop a knack for shaking it off, but rejection hurts, even if only for a moment. And when you market yourself to strangers, you encounter rejection all the time. Even if it's nothing more than a lack of response to your expensive advertising, it's disappointing and discouraging.

When your business is made up mostly of people who know you, or who were referred to you, you are rarely rejected. You may not get every piece of business that crosses your path, but when you don't, it's usually for a reason other than a lack of salesmanship.

5. An SOI business model increases your accountability. When you are working with friends or referrals, you want to do a GREAT job! Contrary to what some might believe, you won't be tempted to let things slide just because you have a personal relationship with this person. You will want to impress them and even show off a little. This is good. When you do an exceptional job for one client, you've raised your own bar a little and will feel the need to do as good a job for the next... and even better for the next. Before you know it, you're an extraordinary real estate agent!

6. Business generated from your SOI is easy business to get. If your friends and your friends' friends think you're a competent real estate agent (or even just a generally competent person), "interviews" will be a slam-dunk. You'll rarely have to compete for listings and buyers; they're already predisposed to hire you.

7. Business generated by your SOI tends to be better business. Assuming that the people you know are people you respect and would like to do business with, it just makes sense that the business generated by them will also be business you'll enjoy. On the other hand, people who wander into a real estate office, visit an open house, or answer a newspaper ad may not be as qualified, motivated or loyal as you would like. Agents who depend on such marketing venues often find themselves working with buyers and sellers who aren't ready to move, or who are working with several different agents around town.

8. Once your SOI is "built," you can coast through the rest of your real estate career. Sure, your SOI will need ongoing maintenance, but you'll never have to do another day of prospecting. If you spend your first 4 years building a truly great SOI, it will take care of you the rest of your days. In the last five years of my career, I relied solely on business generated by my SOI. Thus, my personal promotion expenses were next to nothing and all my working hours were devoted to my (many) clients. I was able to make a six figure income working less than 30 hours a week. It was a beautiful thing.

9. And finally... and most importantly.... An SOI business model WORKS. It just does. The people who know you and care about you really want to help you. Truly, they do. They are much more likely to remember your name when the topic of real estate comes up in conversation and they are certainly more likely to put in a good word for you.

sell with soul

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents
Jennifer: I'm absolutely experiencing the positive sides of my SOI. What I had imagine doing business with them were definitely untrue. I was never an anti-SOI (in fact 95% of my businesses came from my SOI, yet I didnt want to believe that it could work until the right moment struck). I just refused to be associated with the "salesperson" or the "real estate agent" terms.

Once I saw how I provided exceptional service and value beyond expectations (or at least I think I do), I had no problems telling others that I'm in real estate. I do it proudly these days.
Jan 12, 2007 06:10 AM #1
Gary Urich
Elliott Costal Living / Better Homes & Garden Real Estate - North Myrtle Beach, SC
North Myrtle Beach Real Estate
thanks for the good reading
Jan 12, 2007 08:06 AM #2
Caleb Mardini
Bellevue, WA
That's a great way to put SOI.  I love the party perspective.
Jan 12, 2007 01:59 PM #3
M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)
NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time - Grand Canyon, AZ
Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS
Thanks for sharing some "out of the box" ideas. When I have other priorities in order I will give some of your recommendations a try.
Jan 12, 2007 02:55 PM #4
Dee Copeland
Copeland Group Realty - Austin, TX
Principal Broker
I agree and recently blogged about it in my post called Don't Work with Strangers if You're Broke! I think a lot of us want to spend money on "easy fixes" when they actually cost more than working with people who like us and will be our advocates.
Jan 12, 2007 05:13 PM #5
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul


On my very first day as a real estate agent, I went to a seminar called "Fishing from the Friendly Pond". It was about building an SOI, but I didn't know the terminology for it then. Anyway, the speaker said that when real estate agents get hungry, they automatically want to ratchet up their advertising... newspaper ads, a new farm, busbench advertising, etc. In other words, reach out to strangers who don't care a bit about them or their business.

I see so many agents, especially on Agents Online, who are looking for the magic bullet to bring in loads of leads so they can capture one or two of them. SOI business IS that magic bullet. But <sigh> agents keep pounding the pavement (and failing in record numbers) while the business they seek is right under their nose...

The Seduction of Your SOI, January 30, 2007

Jan 12, 2007 10:56 PM #6
Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan
You know, this has really made me stop and think.  An SOI business model.  While I do keep up with my SOI (mostly phone calls, occasional mailings), my marketing plan has a goal to ramp up my SOI contacts and completed referrals.  I think I'll create an actual written marketing plan for them and see how that works. 
Jan 13, 2007 06:14 AM #7
David Abernathy
Waterfront Properties & Club Communities - Jupiter, FL
Palm Beach County Real Estate

Thanks for the post - I just signed up for your seminar.

I am looking forward to hearing more about your experience and reading your new book!


Jan 13, 2007 08:25 PM #8
Dianne Barody
Century 21 AmeriSouth Realty - Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Florida Real Estate
Thank you for your blog.  This is interesting.  what if you don't have a large sphere of friends?
Apr 25, 2007 09:21 AM #9
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Hi Dianne,

This is actually a huge question. First, you need more friends - not necessarily best buddies or confidantes, but people who know you and like you. You probably know a lot more people than you think you do.

If you send me your email address (to I'll send you my ebook about seducing your SOI, which includes lots of information about meeting new people. It's written by an introvert (me!), so believe me, there's nothing in there that's scary!

Apr 25, 2007 10:15 AM #10
Denise Shockey
RE/MAX Aerospace Realty - Cocoa Beach, FL
Cocoa Beach, Brevard County Florida Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,

Great ideas and wonderful insight!  Thanks for sharing. 


Nov 19, 2007 08:21 AM #11
Monica Bourgeau
New Phase Business Coaching - Portland, OR
Business Coaching
Great ideas and a good reminder about how important individuals in our SOI are to our business.
Feb 01, 2008 01:07 PM #12


All great ideas but I just had a terrible thing happen to me by working with "friends". I started working with a friend of mine last September; he put on offer on a piece of property and got cold feet. They backed off of the house hunt for a while. In the meantime I started working with another friend (also friends with the other friend). The first friend started his search again and felt it would be a conflict for me to work with both of them. The first friend did just buy a house (without agent representation) and now the second friend just informed me they are buying a foreclosure property and using a real estate attorney (who is also a licensed REALTOR) instead of using me.

This process has taught me a great deal. NEVER work with friends, it seems they do not take you seriously in the professional world and assume you work for free. I truly believe past clients are the best way to grow your business. If you do an amazing job for them they will remember to referee you to all their friends and family.

May 15, 2008 05:14 AM #13
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