Success in this business is directly related to the relationships you build over time. So how do you build these relationships? How do you create 250 absolute raving fans? Here’s how to make the most out of your sphere.

It might sound simple, but to be successful in real estate, people need to know you’re in the real estate business. Start by leveraging your sphere of influence — those 250 people you see or interact with regularly. 

This base of 250 people becomes your starting point. When agents start in this business, they often run around trying to find people ready to buy or sell now. These are people they don’t likely know and who probably won’t work with someone they don’t trust.

So who trusts you? Those 250 people in your sphere. That’s why it’s better to talk to the people you know about buying and selling at some point. Success in this business is directly related to the relationships you build over time. So how do you build these relationships over time? How do you create 250 absolute raving fans? Here are five tips.

Start with people you know

Two hundred fifty may seem like an arbitrary number, but I’ve found it to be a manageable starting point. 

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “250 seems like a lot.” Think of it this way: If money were no object, who would you invite to your wedding? Or who would you reach out to for support if you were running for office?

It can be a mix of people, including friends, family, former business colleagues, people you went to school with, people who cut your hair, do your taxes, service your car — you see where I’m going.

Remember that billboards won’t save the day  

Believe it or not, advertising is not the answer to meaningful, long-lasting relationships. Many agents think a giant billboard will make the phone ring, but remember, a billboard is a one-way message and no way to build a relationship. 

Consider the $1,000 a month it costs for a billboard in my market. Divide that out over 20 business days, and that gives you about $50 a day to spend on building one-on-one relationships focused on two-way communication.

Use that daily budget for things that have purpose, meaning and connection. Schedule a lunch with a past client, grab coffee with a friend, drop off flowers for a special occasion, pay for the person behind you at the drive-through or send handwritten notecards. 

I send birthday cookies to everyone in my sphere. At $6 a piece, they are only a little more expensive than a greeting card and way more impactful. And think of all the people who will post a picture of their birthday cookie on social media. Now that’s working your sphere.

The idea is to catch the business before your big competition — those impersonal aggregators, such as Zillow and realtor.com. You don’t see them sending birthday cookies, now do you?

Stop the scroll and tap

Another approach to rethink is social media. Agents often invest a lot of time on social media looking for business. But I suspect many, if not most, are going about it all wrong. 

Think of social media as an online cocktail party. You wouldn’t stand in a corner at a real cocktail party and give people a thumbs up on their outfits or make the heart sign to show you are happy to see someone.  

At a party and on social media, you have to engage, have a conversation. Don’t just tap alike; take the time to write a comment. It makes you memorable. This is when working your sphere begins to feel less like sales and more like spending time with people — who will potentially send you business in the future. 

Wear your brand proudly

Keep reminding your 250 contacts — and potential new ones — what you do by being visibly branded wherever you go. Think clothing, tote bags and license plate frames. 

I once struck up a conversation with a woman at a gas station. She was from out of town and needed to sell her mom’s home. When she saw that I was wearing a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate shirt, she asked for my card. And, yes, I got her business. 

Do the work

I genuinely believe working a sphere of influence is the way to succeed in real estate. The best news is that it’s not a skill set you have to be born with to leverage. It’s a simple but effective task that anyone can do, but you have to put the time in. The payoff is enormous, though: People don’t question my value when a trusted friend has recommended me. 

People crave connection, and they want to know you care. So put your arms around your 250 closest contacts, and make meaningful connections with people who genuinely want to recommend you. 

Joshua A. McGrath is the CEO and founder of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Central in West Virginia. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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