Can I "SOI" if I'm New to Town?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

You may not have noticed, but I've been away from the Rain for about two weeks (except for a few little housekeeping blogs). Blog burnout - it happens and it's usually good for the soul... What have I been doing? WRITING MY NEXT BOOK! Outta nowhere, I was in the mood to create the next masterpiece (tee hee), so that's where all my creative energy went. And... voila! The first (very preliminary) draft is done!

So here I am.

Got a question this morning from a reader about SOI'ing* in a new town. And, whaddya' know, I'd just written about this topic yesterday in Chapter Four...

"Dear Jennifer, I just moved to a town where I have no SOI. Any ideas using your philosophy? Thanks for qany input you can offer."

My Response (excerpted from my preliminary first draft of the new baby);

"But I'm New to Town and I don't know anyone!"
So, a little lacking in the SOI department? The only people you know are your spouse, your real estate agent and the nice lady at the bank? Well, it's a start.

First, allow me to be frank with you. Starting up a relationship-based business in a brand new town is not easy. In fact, in some cases, it may be darn near impossible. A little tough love here - if you find yourself in this situation, either by choice or by necessity, you need to accept that you HAVE a choice to make. Either you will get your backside out there in the world and meet some people as fast as your legs will carry you, or you will put your business plans on hold until you have "organically" built a sphere of influence.

Let's talk about both options.

Getting Your Backside Out There
If you're an introvert, this may seem overwhelming. I mean, WHAT exactly can you do to "meet people?" I'm with ya, there. A few years ago I moved to a new town and after two years there I hadn't met much of anyone (no, I wasn't selling real estate; I was writing books).

Frankly, I would never advise anyone to begin a new real estate career in a new town... not just because of the SOI limitations, but also because you have so much ELSE to learn! A new market, new customs and maybe even new laws and contracts!

But since you asked, I'll do my best to answer.

First, make a list of everyone you know. You may be surprised how many people you know already. Keep a notebook with you at all times so you can write down the names of people you think of as you're going about your day.

friendsSet a goal of how many new contacts you want to have by, say, the end of the year. 200 is a good number to shoot for. Figure out how many people you need to meet between now and then to reach your goal. (The sooner you have 200 contacts, the sooner your SOI strategy will work for you - there's just something magic about 200.)

Using respectful strategies you've read about here, in my books and on my blog, strive to make new friends. Best friends? No, of course not. Just put up your antenna, put a smile on your face and greet the world like a fresh breath of air. Go ahead and do open houses, prospect to FSBOs and Expireds, or any other sort of lead generation you feel the need to do. Just be sure to treat everyone you meet as someone you might build a relationship with, not just as someone who might buy or sell a home.

Because, frankly, your goal is not necessarily to meet everyone in town with a real estate need - your goal is meet people who KNOW other people* who have real estate needs.

The more people you know, uh, strike that. The more people who know YOU, the more likely your name is to come up in conversation when the topic is real estate.

Simple enough. If you're new to town. Go make friends. TODAY!

Putting your business on hold
This is a very viable option, as unappealing as it may sound on the surface. If I were to relocate today with the intention of selling real estate in my new locale, I would probably use this approach. I'd get another job for a year or so; preferably in a company or industry that included the opportunity to meet people. I'd focus on my goal of cultivating an SOI of 200 or so and keep my antenna up for opportunities to be social, to be helpful, to get my smiling (non-salesy) face in front of people I would enjoy knowing. I'd strive to always be perceived as an RCHB, so that when I made my announcement that I was returning to real estate, the people I'd met through the year would have the confidence that I'll be a darn good real
estate agent.

As an introvert, making the effort to be social IS an effort and not something that comes naturally. However, I'm also mercenary enough to be willing to do it if I think it's leading to something profitable for me. And of course, a side benefit of this mercenariness is that I'll make friends in
a new town. Win/win all around.

* SOI'ing = Building a business based on the personal relationships in your life (ideally without making a nuisance out of yourself)



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Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

As always-great post.  What is the name of your book.  The one you already have published?

Mar 26, 2009 01:47 AM #1
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

I don't have a name yet! It's the sequel to SWS - written specifically for Old Fogies Experienced Professionals, going deeper into the ARt of Selling real estate than SWS1 did...

Mar 26, 2009 01:49 AM #2
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

I've changed cities and and as a result business market areas 5 times in my 20 year real estate career.........and its definitely brought its challenges........each time there have been different tools and ways I have immersed myself in the market - some more successfully / andor quicker then others.........always a challenge  - but ultimately the common denominator is yourself............and you can replicate and bring your world of knowledge to each place........each time you're better equipped toknow what you have to do..........and are hopefully inspired/motivated enough to do it!

Mar 26, 2009 02:05 AM #3
Heather Fitzgerald
REALTY WORLD-Harbert Company, Inc. - Greenwood, IN
REALTOR Greenwood Indiana Real Estate

Utilize a MEETUP group, you can google and start going to the different functions from wine tasting, book clubs, gourmet cooking/cooking with a group, etc. and just start building connections.

Mar 26, 2009 03:09 AM #4
Kathy Sperl-Bell
Active Adults Realty - Lewes, DE


Can't wait to hear more about your book. Your writing style is fun and engaging. I am also working on a book and I would love input from you on publishing.

About moving to a new area and creating SOI, real estate is my last career and I had just relocated to Delaware before I began. I realized that there was no way I was going to waltz into town and pick up the prime listings. So, I decided to focus on reaching out to "Boomers and Beyond at the Beach in Delaware". I became an ABR, followed up with my SRES even before it became an official NAR designation and created my first web site. I decided I would not try to be all things to all people. I began writing a monthly email newsletter and over the past 5 years, I have built a database of more than 2,000 people that have contacted me through one of our web sites or signed up for our newsletter. Times have still been tough the past couple of years, but I am still here and my pipeline of prospects is still growing.

My SOI is full of people I don't even know, YET.

Mar 26, 2009 05:55 AM #5
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Kathy - be happy to chat with you about publishing! YOu've done a great job building your database - I'm not sure I'd call them SOI if you don't know them, but heck - I'll take a mailing list of 2000 any day!

Heather - I've heard good things about those meet-up groups!

Liz - My hat's off to you! I'll bet it is empowering to know you can be successful whereever you land, even in a business where location location location is so important... in so many ways!

Mar 26, 2009 06:51 AM #6
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

Jennifer,  I did notice that you haven't been here for a few weeks, but I've been kind of taking a break too.  Glad to hear of your new book, you know you can put me down for a copy.

Great advice here.  I started as a RE agent when I'd  only lived in the Raleigh area for 1 year.  It was tough, got a few clients from "phone duty" at the agency all the rookies start at.  But now most of our clients are either past clients or referrals.  And I've learned how to get my backside out and meet people too. 

Your first book was great, good luck with the next one.

Mar 26, 2009 07:24 AM #7
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

This post reminds me of when I started in the mountains. It was LONELY out there for a while. It takes a blot of get out get out get out to get going. A lot of which does not have an immediate return. Thanks for the story. It reminded me of what it takes, and how much better off I am now and am NEVER going to move

Mar 26, 2009 11:38 PM #8
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Jennifer - That is awesome that you have started a new book !  Congrats on that.  In regards to this post, I think it would be very very difficult to start a real estate business in a new town, especially now.  Sometimes I feel that if we are going to stay in real estate, we have no choice to stay in Philadelphia since that is where our clients are, we have worked hard to build relationships...etc.  I can see why it would be a daunting task to start afresh somewhere new.  I would agree with you that if I were in that positon, I might take the 2nd option.  The first Option would work too but one would need a sizeable emergency fund for it would take some time to generate income.  Great question.  ~ Chris

Mar 27, 2009 12:15 AM #9
Tim Bradley
Contour Investment Properties - Jackson Hole, WY
Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY

Great advice, simple, to the point, and executable. Sometimes I get lost in figuring out how to meet people, and it's really not that difficult! Just get out there!

Mar 27, 2009 02:21 AM #10
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Jennifer - There are a lot of alternative ways to meet people these days, so one just needs to pick their poison and go with it.  I like the idea of having a goal of reaching 200 in your SOI.  I think I will use that as my goal for this year.

Mar 27, 2009 11:05 AM #11
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty /


Want to meet lots of folks in a new town?  Get a job (or be a Realtor), join local Chambers of Commerce and become a chamber ambassador (or what ever they call their local business volunteers).

Then start going to visit other business regularly as a volunteer representative of the chamber.  Explain the chamber benefits, explain a local network event, explain an upcoming open house or business fair or ribbon cutting.  Offer to meet them at a local chamber luncheon where they can meet other business people.

Before you start your visits, the chamber can get you the list of the current members.  Visit the non-members.  Even if they are not interested in being in the chamber, they likely have friends in the chamber and few will want to be known as the guy/gal that diss'ed the chamber volunteer.  

Walk in the door, ask to speak to the president or manager or whoever is in charge, hopefully by name, and say you are with the chamber of commerce.

Ask them about their business.  What do they do?  What are they good at?  How can the chamber help them?  Make sure you are there to genuinely help them with their business through the chamber's activities.

You can also visit current members and ambassodors and ask about their business, the chamber, the community and what you should share with the non-members you are going to visit.

Wear a name tag that has your company name on it (not the chamber name) but don't mention that company until asked.  And most will ask because they will see you talking about the chamber and how to help them grow their business but see a different name on the tag.

At that point, you explain briefly what you do and that you are an ambassador of the chamber, a business volunteer.   Just your elevator pitch, nothing else unless asked.   Make it clear by your action that you are there about them and not to ambush them with a business pitch.

The "gotchas" on this approach.  Not all chambers are created equal.  Some are little more than local retail associations.  Not all have a robust volunteer program.  There may not be many of these in your area (although a metro area will have either one big chamber or a large one with several (or many) of smaller ones around).

200 new people in a year.  With this approach, that should be a piece of cake.  Really. 

Looking forward to the new book!! G

Mar 28, 2009 12:09 AM #12
Kathy Sperl-Bell
Active Adults Realty - Lewes, DE

Terrific ideas here. I agree with Glenn about Chambers of Commerce. I joined several, one in the town in which our RE/MAX office is located and the other in the town where I live. It's amazing how quickly you can get to know people just by attending the mixers and the breakfast meetings and talking with people about their business.

I have just been asked to serve on the Board of the Milton Chamber of Commerce, the town in which I live, and we are on a campaign to interest more local businesses to join and become active. I can tell these business owners that since being active in the Milton Chamber, I have definitely seen an increase in both referrals and new business. Remember, not all business owners are comfortable in a business networking environment. Make a point of introducing them to other members to get them involved.

Mar 28, 2009 12:53 AM #13
Michele Reneau
Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor - Summerville, SC
Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team

This might be a stupid questions, but what does RCHB stand for?

Mar 28, 2009 02:37 PM #14
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Michele - Oops - Not a stupid question at all - it's something I made up (and should have clarified in the blog) - RCHB = "Reasonably Competent Human Being." It just means that if you come across as a generally reliabile, dependable, intelligent & ethical person, people will trust you to handle their real estate needs, even if they don't know anything about you as a Realtor.

Kathy & Glenn - I'm too much of an introvert to be anyone's welcoming committee, but if I weren't - what a great opportunity!

Troy - 200 is very doable - it mostly a matter of keeping track of the people you meet more so than actually struggling to meet people! I haven't updated my SOI database in awhile (bad Jennifer), and I bet if I spent an hour on it today, I could come up with an additional 50 names I've met in the last few months.

Mar 29, 2009 12:16 AM #15
Judy Schneider
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA

I can't imagine having to start over. The first time is difficult enough. Best of luck to you and may you meet many people.

Mar 31, 2009 10:15 AM #16
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