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RISMEDIA, February 18, 2009-A Sphere of Influence (SOI) business model is a strategy that focuses on attracting business to you from the people you know and the people you meet socially, as opposed to pursuing business from strangers. It’s possible to run a 100% SOI business and never have to make one cold call, memorize a prospecting script or knock on a strangers’ door.

There are three primary activities in an effective SOI business model:

1. Nurturing the personal relationships you already have within your social network (that is, your friends – I call this group my “Group One.” Clever, eh?)
2. Staying in touch with “everyone else” (that is, the people you know who aren’t your friends – I call them my Group Two)
3. Meeting new people.

Before you panic and say that you don’t have the time, money or energy to do all this socializing, don’t! Running an SOI business is much less time-consuming and less expensive than just about any other systematized prospecting method, and can be far more effective, more quickly. In fact, if you spend a few years creating your personal cheering section, you can pretty much coast through the rest of your real estate career. That’s what I did and in my last five years I rarely worked more than 30 hours a week and my marketing budget was practically zero. My phone rang, I answered it, and I had a new client.

Nurturing the personal relationships you already have

From a philosophical perspective, this means to ensure that the people in your social network (Group One) know that you care about them. In a practical sense, it means that you strive to have a personal conversation with everyone in your social network as often as you can, at least once a quarter. A personal conversation can be a face to face lunch or coffee date, a phone call or even an e-mail exchange. What it’s not is a concerted effort to abuse your friends with a sales pitch. Always approach your social network as a friend first, and a real estate agent second, or third, or fourth. Not the other way around.

Staying in touch with everyone else

Staying in touch with your “everyone else” group (Group Two) just means that you keep your name in front of this crowd with periodic interesting, relevant, non-salesy written communications, delivered both through snail-mail and e-mail. As long as your mailings are consistent and intelligent, you’ll see a significant number of sales from even this minimal effort.

Meeting new people

An important part of an effective SOI model is to add to your Groups One and Two, especially in today’s market where there is admittedly less business to go around. The more people you know, who know you, and think you’re a generally cool person, the more that telephone will ring.

Running an effective SOI business model isn’t nearly as complicated as some would have you believe. Yes, it takes some organization and commitment upfront, and an ongoing effort to stay in touch with the people you know and the people you meet, but once it’s rolling and you’re in the SOI habit, it won’t feel like work at all! In fact, it might even feel suspiciously like fun. And “the more fun you have selling real estate, the more real estate you will sell!”

Jennifer Allan is the author of Sell with Soul: Creating an Extraordinary Career in Real Estate without Losing Your Friends, Your Principles or Your Self-Respect, as well as a number of eBooks including The Seduction of Your SOI: Generating Business and Referrals from the Very Important People Who Know You, Dorky Announcement Letters – DEDORKED! and For Sale Signs Don’t Pay the Bills. She is a regular contributor to several real estate newsletters and magazines, a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame and one of the industry’s most popular bloggers.

For more information, visit