"Dear Jennifer, I Don't Wanna SOI - I'd Rather Work With Strangers"

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Door knocking

"I don't want to work with my sphere of influence, I'd rather work with strangers!"

As the self-proclaimed Master of All Things SOI, I hear this a lot. Agents write to me (and occasionally call) to tell me why they don't wanna sell real estate for or to their spheres of influence. They explain that they don't want to risk their friendships, they don't want to mix business with pleasure, they don't want to discount their fees for friends and family, they don't wanna, they don't wanna, they don't wanna... yada yada yada.

And that's fine with me. To each his or her own - there are many paths to success in a real estate business and an SOI business model is only one of them. Shoot, there are many paths to success in an SOI business model even!

But I cain't help myself from arguing just a little with these agents. Not because I think I'm so smart (well, maybe...), but rather because I don't think they truly understand what an SOI business model is.

Selling real estate to and for your sphere of influence doesn't just mean your friends and acquaintances hire you to be their real estate agent on a consistent-enough basis to keep you in business. It doesn't even mean that they shovel enough referrals your way to keep you in business. 

Yes, those things will happen, but in today's market, that's not likely to be enough consistent business to keep the dogs fed and the toenails polished.

No, a 21st Century, post-mortgage-meltdown SOI business model is much broader than simply relying on your friends, family and acquaintances to supply you with leads.

Your sphere of influence is potentially comprised of every living breathing human being who crosses your path on a daily basis. Of course, not every living breathing human being who crosses your path will BECOME a member of your SOI, but the potential is there. I'll probably expound on that concept in an upcoming blog, but for this one, let's talk about all those "stranger" leads these "I don't wanna SOI" crowd is hoping to sell houses to and for.

With me?

Even if your business model is based on prospecting to strangers, I have to assume you're hoping that someday you'll meet these strangers, preferably in the context of a real estate transaction. And once you've met them, I have to assume you want to do a great job for them so that they'll tell all their friends about you. And once your transaction with them is over, I assume you'd like to get their future business and referrals, which is best accomplished by staying in touch with them (after you did a great job for them, of course).

So, if these assumptions are true, it sounds as if you're running a sphere of influence business model to me!

Of course, if these assumptions aren't true for you; if you'd rather continue to pursue strangers for your future business and let anyone you've already met face to face go because they're now a member of your sphere of influence (and you don't wanna SOI) well, okay!



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Comments 14 New Comment

Brenda Mullen
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!
RE/MAX Access

I don't bother my friends about business; however, they all know I am a Realtor and most have used me.  I have zero problem doing business with friends and family or doing it at a reduced rate for them. 

I agree with you however, that SOI is everybody you know or will possibly know and doesn't have to just include those that know you well :)!  Great post.

December 06, 2010 04:58 PM
Christine Pappas
Ohio RE/MAX REALTOR - Northeast Ohio Real Estate
RE/MAX Results

So, I want to say that those folks maybe have not been following you and really don't get it.    I feel it is more about being authentic, real, kind, considerate without all the pushy, cheesy salesy stuff.  

The only issue I've seen you "push" on anyone is treating your current clients better than the next big sale.  And that is just plain common sense.


But, this is a personal business and everyone has the right to run it the way they wish and feel comfortable with.

I also don't believe that family and friends expect to have the commission discounted, I think that is self inflicted.  I have personally found that my friends and family really want to help and support me.  I don't sell anything to them.  I just try to provide value. 

December 06, 2010 06:32 PM
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates


There is more then one way to succeed, and having a strong and active sphere of influence is one that works.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

December 06, 2010 08:16 PM
Renée Montgomery
Northern Virginia Real Estate
Century 21 New Millennium

Jennifer, you got it, I get it and I work my SOI consistently!!

December 06, 2010 09:01 PM
Sally Lawrence
RE/MAX Tehachapi, Inc.

Jennifer, one of the reasons I blog is to develop more SOI.  It works, too!

December 07, 2010 01:33 PM

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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