Seasoned agents know that an extensive and proven referral network is critical to long-term success. But how do agents build and maintain a referral network that works for them? They work at it. Here’s how to form an effective communication plan with your sphere of influence and consistently act on it.

I always keep a close eye on what’s trending and lately I’ve noticed something big: More and more agents are getting and sending referrals outside of their brokerage. And it’s happening both stateside and overseas.

The key? Giving referrals, gets referrals, right? Well, that and a few strategic moves to keep your sphere of influence humming. 

Seasoned agents know that an extensive and proven referral network is critical to long-term success. But how do agents build and maintain a referral network that works for them? They work at it.

They reach out to their sphere and never stop growing it. They form relationships with the right people, and then they reward them upfront. 

If you don’t ask, you probably won’t ever receive, which is why it’s so important to form an effective communication plan with your sphere of influence (SOI) and consistently act on it. Here are some tips.

1. Never stop growing your sphere

For a real estate agent, nothing is more important than nurturing your SOI. Let’s face it, your SOI is your largest source of real estate business. So expanding it is important. But how do you grow it?

The obvious is actively engaging in social media campaigns and organizing your family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances into a workable database. One of the best tools to help you do that is a CRM technology like MoxiEngage. CRMs help agents like you and me nurture leads, track sales and manage workflow in one fell swoop.

As the buyer and seller market heats up, now is the best time to remind people of your services and value. Reach out to your SOI, and let them know you can help their family or friends with agent referrals, home searches, market updates and more.

This can be done through an email, letter or phone call. If writing a client, provide something of value in the piece such as market data or local updates, while also explaining what services you provide. Be sure to remind them to think of you if a friend, family member or co-worker wants to sell their home. And don’t forget to include the fact that you can connect them with top notch agents, out-of-state or abroad.

A sponsored Inman article I read a few years back said, “The National Association of Realtors reported in their 2017 profile of buyers and sellers that 64 percent of all sellers worked with their previous agent or found their agent through referral. A whopping 89 percent of buyers said they would work with their agent again or recommend them to others. That the sphere of influence is the holy grail of an agent’s business should shock no one, but the fact that it remains steady as the primary source of transactions in a digitized, cloud-based, avocado toast-ridden modern world is interesting.”

I find it interesting still, especially in 2020. It makes perfect sense. Although we operate in a highly tech-focused world, a personal referral still remains the key to building and maintaining your SOI — especially amidst the chaos and unknowns of the pandemic. Once you realize that you have to actively participate in building your SOI, you can then think about how to identify and maximize opportunities.

2. Identify the right agents for referrals, and reward them

It’s important to know the best way to identify the right agents in specific areas for a referral. Some brokerages offer maps and tech to help you zero in on referrals by neighborhood. You can also check out Zillow Premier Agent in your local area for referrals. However, it’s not all cold calls, emails and constant research.

Platforms like Labcoat Agents can help you drill down your SOI and use science to generate referral leads. Join their Facebook Group; I did, and it’s a quick and easy resource for ideas that are guaranteed to steer you in the right direction.

There is a post from Labcoat that outlines the do’s and don’ts of agent-to-agent referrals. This is a quick read and great refresher on how to approach other agents as well as avoid tricky situations that can arise with agent referrals.

Here is another quick read from Inman that provides insight on how to find business when it’s not coming to you. It’s worth a look and offers the basics that we should all be doing. Among these are working prior clients and colleagues, fundraising, simply asking for referrals and more.

Most importantly, remember to reward the referrer when they send you the referral — not when it closes. A simple token of appreciation such as a gift card to coffee, movies, a restaurant or even a bottle of wine is a great thank you and will keep you top-of-mind.

3. Embrace coaching networks

Lastly, one of the best ways to boost your referral network is to embrace coaching networks. These virtual and in-person coaching seminars, events and courses can help you connect with like-minded contacts in your area or out of state that could translate to lucrative deals.

Here is a list of the top 25 best real estate coaches in the business. Look at this list, and do your homework. Maybe you join one or two coaching groups a year or take the plunge and sign up for a new coach every quarter? These coaches will not only give you insider tips and training, but also will motivate you and connect you with an entire new world of leads.

Bottom line? There are several ways to boost your agent-to-agent referrals and sphere of influence, and it’s worth investigating new methods each year. After all, a solid referral network is the ultimate value add for the modern-day real estate agent.

What methods do you use to generate more agent-to-agent referrals? Do you have any tips to share? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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