Reluctant Networkers - Your Next Biggest Client May be at Wal-Mart!

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Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Picking up from Wednesday's blog about how introverts (and other Reluctant Networkers) can and should make more friends to sell houses to, here are some thoughts on how to go about doing that. And trust me, you'll find no nonsense here about accosting every stranger with a business card or elevator speech, or reminding everyone you know how much you LUUUUUUV Referrals!

It's actually much simpler and low-stress than you might think, especially if you are an introvert. You're not trying to find your new best friend or partner for life, you're just trying meet a few (or a lot) more people who think you're generally a decent person who probably can handle the intricacies of a real estate deal. Some may become good friends, but most won't, and that's fine. While I toss the word "friend" around, I'm referring mainly to "people who know you," not all of whom are friends. Most aren't, actually.

So, when someone tells me they have a small Sphere of Influence (SOI), I find out they're almost always thinking that they SOI is their "friends and family." And that's not right. Your SOI is "everyone who knows you and knows that you sell real estate." That's important to keep in mind.

Most advice for expanding an SOI centers on joining groups, networking, volunteering & such. Terrific! If that's up your alley, see ya at the Chamber. But it's not everyone's cup of merlot. (And actually, no, you won't see me at any Chamber).

walmartI prefer a much more subtle approach. And it works, promise.

Every time you leave the house (which you should do on a regular basis), practice making eye contact with strangers. If you're an extrovert, this may come naturally to you, but if you're like me - more reticent about such things, it probably doesn't. Usually when I go out in public, let's say to Wal-Mart, I avoid eye contact. I look at the floor, the ceiling, the apples, or my shopping cart... anything but the other people in the store.

However, I notice a big difference in my shopping experience when I make a concerted effort to LOOK at the other people I'm shopping with. Wow - it's fun! When I smile, they smile back! What a concept.

One day I went to a big box liquor store and using my make-eye-contact-with-strangers campaign, I struck up conversations with eight different people! Okay, so I didn't sell a house to any of them, but you never know.  

So, do I think you'll build a huge SOI by hanging out at Wal-Mart or the booze-store? Maybe, maybe not. But it's a great practice ground to get in the habit of bringing the outside world into your world instead of studiously shutting it out. Even for introverts, it's not hard to smile pleasantly at people who cross your path, especially if you're NOT in a networking situation where there's that subtle added pressure of effectively promoting yourself.

BUT... think about this... what if you smiled pleasantly and made eye contact with ten strangers a day... and struck up a conversation with just one of the ten? Just one? Every day? For a year? Y'think you might have a sweeeet SOI 365 days from now?

ja

 

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Ambassador
2,588,469
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Different perspective but worth a try. Of course the one I try to chat with will probably have a big ugly BF or husband. Plus my wife make get upset.

Jul 10, 2009 12:08 AM #1
Rainmaker
1,539,902
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Interesting approach.  Making eye contact with strangers is hard for many of us. I will give this a shot!

Jul 10, 2009 12:17 AM #2
Ambassador
453,716
Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK
BobHaywood.com

Jennifer - excellent as always!  An agent in my office did this at Home Depot and ended up closing a deal as a result.  It works!

Jul 10, 2009 12:19 AM #3
Ambassador
840,492
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

You probaby make new friends and contacts using this approach. I on the other hand wouold probably be arrested! Good blog all kidding aside

Jul 10, 2009 12:27 AM #4
Rainmaker
485,057
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bob - Yes, indeed! And it makes leaving the house such a pleasant experience, too.

Gary - It's hard for me, but once I get in the groove, it's a fun challenge for myself.

Ed - No flirting allowed (unless that's a secondary goal)!

Jul 10, 2009 12:27 AM #5
Rainmaker
485,057
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Tell ya what Charlie. You go try it, if you get arrested, you have my permission to call me!

Jul 10, 2009 12:32 AM #6
Rainmaker
225,638
Mark Watterson
Salt Lake City, UT
Utah Real Estate

I enjoy reading your posts and the advise you give.  I'm going take this advise out for a test drive and see how I like it. 

Jul 10, 2009 12:51 AM #7
Rainmaker
561,895
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Jennifer.

This is probably great advice for everyone, not just Realtors looking to expand there sphere.

I am always amazed at the long faces I see when I am out and about.

Smile!

Thanks for writing,

Ken

Jul 10, 2009 02:37 AM #8
Ambassador
687,252
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Just about everybody appreciates a smile and a kind word.  It's really not hard once you give it a try, and it makes you feel great too.

Jul 10, 2009 02:39 AM #9
Anonymous
Patty O'Brien

You couldn't be more correct! Many moons ago, I enrolled in University as a "mature" student. At least that's what the school politely termed us. Being as I was always bookish and one of my majors was Philosophy, I often wondered around deep in reflection, which people perceived to be scowling or crankiness. I got so tired of being asked what was wrong that I decided to conduct an experiment. I started by making eye contact and smiling which eventually led to salutations, which eventually led to conversation and lo and behold, I ended up with an entourage of students that were, well, I could have been their mother. A very young mother, of course! Now it has become a habit and I can easily strike up a conversation about a loaf of bread if I wanted to. Try it! It's fun!

 

Jul 10, 2009 03:35 AM #10
Rainmaker
813,170
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Jennifer - This is something that will not come easy for me, but I would be willing to give it a try.  Let's just see what happens, and it's not just because I am trying to generate business, but it's a good way to live your life.

Jul 10, 2009 11:46 AM #11
Ambassador
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Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I'm weird. I'm an introvert but I talk to people and look at people into their eyes.

Eye-contact? It may not be a good thing for a guy... Ladies might think he's trying to hit on her. And I've sent the WRONG message to some guys. One even followed me to the car. It's serious though. I try not to look at people in the eye when I talk - especially guys.

Ever considered this part?

Jul 10, 2009 02:23 PM #12
Rainmaker
485,057
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Loreena - This has not been an issue for me at all - maybe I'm just too old! When I smile and make eye contact with someone, I never get hit on or feel any sense of inappropriateness. It's probably something to think about though - if you were to smile hesitantly, I could see that as a perceived come-on. But if you're just confident and generally happy with the world and smiling at it, I'd think that wouldn't be a problem?

Jul 11, 2009 01:07 AM #13
Rainer
56,828
Rick Schwartz
William Raveis Real Estate - Danbury, CT

Now - I take it one step further than you do Jennifer  - which usually works for me because I am older and a man.   Sorry - no age or gender bias meant here, but young people love to help older ones and women love to assist helpless men like me. 

I start conversations in stores with people by asking them for help.  "Hello tall person, could you possibly reach that thing on the top shelf in the back for me"  or "Hello younger person, could you possibly help me lift that case of diet Snapple into my basket" 

For the best one you also have to look a little confused - which is not hard for me.  "Excuse me Ma'am,  I'm supposed to be buying Almonds - but there are like 20 different kinds - if you were making a vegetable casserole, which ones would you buy".

Lots of conversations ensue.  The thing is, it has to be sincere.  I really cannot reach high shelves or lift heavy things and Almonds do intimidate the heck out of me.

Sometimes I also help others - which, at the end of the day, is a better thing. If someone is asking the 15 year old clerk in the fish department the best way to cook a salmon fillet, I'll jump in and give them my award winning recipe (It has no Almonds).  Same if someone is trying to get the 12 year old produce clerk to expalin the difference between sweet potatoes and yams.

Another "retail" thing I do is when purchasing gas.  I never pay at the pump. I go inside the convenience store and use my credit card at the register. Then I sign with my world-famous Bic Tri Stic Rick Schwartz pen and I leave it on the counter.  I intentionally buy gas at different locations. 

Like you, Jennifer, I'm not a huge believer in doo-dads but I think the pens are cool because they never stay where you put them. They have legs.   I can tell you, for certain that somewhere out in the world -  there are about 200 of my pens floating around.  I've never yet had anyone call me and say "hey I have your pen, would you list my house?"  but it's just a little more exposure for my brand.

 

 

Jul 11, 2009 03:11 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,027,150
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

A few years ago I figured out waiting increasingly impatiently in line feeling annoyed at the slowness of the cashier, the inability of other customers to have their checkbooks OUT of their purses before the total was was presented, the never ending conversation that seemed to slow the transaction was not healthy for me. 

So, I decided to slow down, chill out and make waiting in line not only more pleasant for myself but everyone around me.  I started TALKING to the other hapless customers in line with me, usually joking about gossip mag headlines, which are pretty entertaining...when I get to the cashier after ENDLESS delay, I greet him or her with a big sympathetic smile...  They appreciate it and it seems to put the entire line in a better mood.  Will I sell more real estate?  Nope, highly unlikely, BUT it helps me practice being a generally more cheerful person and I find THAT magnetically draws people to me in all situations.  Besides, there is something magical about improving someone ELSE's day!

Jul 12, 2009 01:58 AM #15
Rainmaker
785,020
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Jennifer, the only problem is that the Gene pool at my local Wal-Mart is pretty darn shallow!

Jul 13, 2009 06:37 AM #16
Rainmaker
230,902
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

Okay Jen, this sounds like something I can do. Sometimes I will start a conversation with someone in line at the grocery store, to the endless embarassment of my kids, but then I tell them my job as mother is to embarass them.

I will smile at strangers in the gym tonight!

Jul 13, 2009 10:04 AM #17
Rainmaker
114,885
Sheila Kennedy
J29 Project - Rochester, NY

These are great tips Jennifer and I do believe that they will pay off in the long run.  I am a firm believer in the power of positive body language and when you have that smile on your face and can look someone in the eye - you exude confidence.  That is what will have people calling you when they need you.

Jul 18, 2009 12:46 AM #18
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