This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
Looking for more advice? Check out Inman’s New Agent Essentials.
In today’s competitive real estate market, agents must set themselves apart by creating a strong brand identity that resonates with their target audiences in order to succeed.
In addition to having an authentic and unique personal brand, real estate agents must also continue to grow and nurture their sphere of influence (SOI) to generate measurable business results over time.
An SOI consists of a group of people who already know the agent well, whether it’s family, friends or colleagues. Real estate agents must develop a plan to grow this group over time because it will become a huge source of repeat and referral business.
Here are five ways for real estate agents to grow their SOI.
1. Make an honest assessment of your sphere of influence
First, assess the people who will truly be your best cheerleaders and referrals and develop a solid contact list. You should add to your list previous clients who are open to making introductions, leveraging their relationships on your behalf, and ones who are willing to extend event invitations so that you can form new connections.
Next, determine who you know is not in your SOI but could be. And lastly, you can grow your SOI by getting involved with your college alumni association and its networking events or by looking at nonprofit organizations that you are already involved with or would like to be. A great way to build your SOI is to ask to join a committee or host an event for the organization
2. Create a plan to increase your face time, digital and brand presence with your SOI
- Set a goal to have a minimum of five communications per day with members in your SOI, either by phone, text or email, and ensure the communication update is meaningful to the individual.
- Schedule a breakfast and lunch at least once a week with a member of your SOI.
- Identify digital and print advertising opportunities to promote your personal brand that are seen, read and consumed by your most effective SOI members.
- Participate in community and nonprofit organizations, programs and events where your SOI is involved and engaged.
3. Continue to reach out with relevant information to your sphere
This effort is a lot like exercising; if you do it every day, then you do it every day. Otherwise, you don’t.
To make it part of your day, read the blogs, newspapers and magazines that are publishing timely real estate news first thing every morning. Look at what has closed, what properties have gone on the market, what’s gone into contract and what’s had a price reduction. This market reading and sweep will provide interesting information and help inform your five daily communications.
For instance, if you are reading an article about a building being developed next to a penthouse that you previously sold, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to that penthouse owner to say that you saw a tower is being developed next door, how do you feel about that, and do you want to talk about its impact on your home’s value? During your morning market-sweep reading, you are looking for clues so that you can bring useful and relevant information to contacts in your SOI.
4. Identify your feeder markets and influencers that you can add to your SOI
Where are your buyers and sellers coming from, and how can you be the person in your market who others point to in the most important question of all: “Do you know a great agent in New York City?” The more people you can get to answer this question with your name, the more successful you will be.
If you work for a real estate brokerage that has multiple offices in different markets, it can be advantageous to visit those offices, speak at their office meetings about the state of the market in your area, or go to lunch and view properties with top agents or brokers in that market. You might even consider going on a pitch with a top broker in a different market if it’s for a property where the buyer might be coming from your area, so it’s a reciprocal feeder market.
Most importantly, once you’ve developed relationships with real estate professionals in other markets, you must keep those relationships alive. To do this, visit the office every year, attend a regional meeting, participate as a speaker or set up a vendor table there so that you are visible. It’s about creating a relationship that is not just transactional in the moment, but one that you curate and make mutually beneficial.
5. Follow your passions and fill your life with laughter and love
There is nothing more attractive than a genuine, kind, generous and positive-minded real estate professional. Be your best self.
I continue to follow my passion and love for theater, and it’s helped build my COI and database. I came to New York City to be an actor, and I ended up a failed actor. However, I followed my passion by always supporting The Drama League in NYC, the oldest nonprofit theater organization in the country.
Over the past 20 years, I have attended events, co-chaired its gala, served on its board of directors and served as president for a full four-year term. That alignment of what makes me happy and what brings me joy was a way for me to be my true self and offer my real estate services to people who are enthusiastic about the theater.
As a result, there are numerous examples of properties that I have sold on both the buy and sell side, along with referrals from people that also share a passion for theater.
Stan Ponte is a senior global real estate adviser and associate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty – East Side Manhattan Brokerage. He was named the No. 2 agent in Manhattan by sales volume for his work in 2020, achieving $144 million in sales, according to The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends. As a Realtor in New York City for the past 21 years, Stan’s client list ranges from first-time homebuyers to CEOs, philanthropists, hedge fund managers, tech world innovators and entertainers.