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RISMEDIA, March 4, 2009-Q: “Dear Jennifer, Got up this morning and saw that my daughter’s best friend’s parents listed with someone else! They’ve been on my mailing list and their daughter and my daughter have been best friends since grade school. I’m crushed. Should I continue to send them things or take them off my list?” – Jane

A. I get these letters all the time. People who have embraced my Sphere of Influence (SOI) philosophy and then feel kicked in the teeth when someone in their SOI hires another real estate agent. They almost seem angry at me for leading them to believe that they could count on the loyalty of everyone in their contact database.

Well, first, I always give permission to my friends to feel really, really bummed for an hour or two. If they’re brand new in the business, they can even fret overnight about it. It’s a natural reaction, and I’m not even immune to it. We tend to think that anyone we’ve ever breathed on is obligated to use us to sell their home, as long as we made sure they had our business card in their possession. Heck, just last week, I went out for drinks with a new friend and found out just that day she’d listed her house with someone else! The nerve! Yeah, I was a little flustered by that, I can admit.

But here’s the thing… or things.

First, in the vast majority of time, when people make a business decision that adversely affects you, it has nothing to do with you at all. It’s not personal-not one little bit. I’m rather thin-skinned, so I find myself hurt all the time by perceived slights, only to find out later that the “slight” was completely, utterly 100% reasonable.

An example…last week, someone who I thought adored me unsubscribed from my mailing list. I was crushed. Later, she wrote to me to say she’d changed her e-mail address and wanted to make sure she continued to get my mailings!

When someone in your SOI chooses someone else to work with, it’s almost a certainty that their decision made sense to them and had nothing whatsoever to do with their feelings for you. In fact, it’s likely they didn’t even think of you when making their decision – yes, the people in our world have their own lives to lead and aren’t particularly concerned about ours.

However, if you truly believe that the hiring decision was personal, then you need to ask yourself why that might be so… and it’s not likely that it’s because the other guy is an idiot or a meanie. There’s something about your relationship with them that led them to believe you were not the best (wo)man for the job. But if the extent of that relationship is a series of postcard mailings and an annual calendar, then it’s quite possible another agent is higher on their friendship priority list than you are.

Should my friend continue to market to her daughter’s best friend’s parents? Sure! It’s possible that they won’t be happy with their choice in agent and might someday start fishing around for my friend’s card when the listing expires. But they definitely won’t do that if my friend acts at all miffed or unprofessional about it.

An SOI philosophy does work. 100% of the time? Uh, no. Not even close. But when it doesn’t, yes, you have my permission to pout about it for a little while!

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.

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