SOI and the Single Gal

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

It occurs to me that running an SOI* business is a lot like dating. I'm thankfully no longer in the dating world, but I remember it well. Trying to figure out where Mr. Right might be hanging out that day. Pondering who among my friends would give me that magic referral to the man who was The One. Trying to find the elusive balance between approachable friendliness... and aloof-hard-to-get-ness. The roller coaster ride of euphoric highs followed by crushing lows.

When you're dating, you're bombarded with advice. Such as... it's a good idea for a marriage-minded woman to ask a man on the first date if he's similarly-inclined. If no, NEXT! If you see children in your future, you should make sure every man you have coffee with feels the same way. Before the second cup. How about announcing to all your friends that you are now Single and Available, and demand that they find you a mate?

Of course, there is the other camp which tells women to take the hard-to-get game to the extreme. Never return phone calls, never change your plans to meet a man on short notice, and never discuss the future.

When you begin your SOI business (that is, generating business and referrals from the Very Important People Who Know You), you are also given all sorts of advice, most of which makes no sense if you evaluate it from your gut. You are told to tell everyone you meet that you sell real estate and that you Love Referrals. Over and over again. That you should remind your friends constantly of that fact. That you should push your business card on anyone within shouting distance. That you should categorize your friends in order of importance - that is, how likely they are to refer to you - and socialize with them accordingly.

In short, PUSH your agenda on your SOI instead of allowing things to unfold and develop naturally.

If you interrogate a typical guy about his plans for your future together on your first (or tenth) date, he'll likely run for the hills regardless of his feelings on the matter. The same thing will probably happen if you assault every new acquaintance with your business card and elevator speech.

If you beg your friends to play matchmaker, they may silently wonder why you're so desperate, and be unwilling to subject their USDA Prime Choice male friends to that desperation (after all, matchmaking often backfires on the matchmaker!). Just like when you beg your friends for referrals (er, sorry, frequently remind them), they may question your professionalism and wonder why you don't already have all the business you need. Yeah, people do think this way, don't you?

Of course, there's that fine line between enthusiastically letting your SOI know you're open for business ... and putting your friends on the spot, both in your professional and your personal life. Finding that balance may be an ongoing struggle, but here are some tips:

  • Don't attend a party or function with the sole intent of handing out your business cards. Attend with the idea that you will meet lots of nice people, and may have enough rapport with a few to pursue a relationship. Leave your business cards in the car and just relax.
  • If a friend hasn't referred you, after your repeated requests that she do so, there may be a reason. Drop it - if you want to keep the friendship alive.
  • Wait for people to ask you what you do for a living. Answer enthusiastically and see if there's any interest. If not, talk about the weather or the yummy shrimp kabobs.
  • Don't send a letter to your SOI simply asking for referrals. In fact, don't ask for referrals at all. There are much better ways to get that point across than flat-out asking.
  • Your friends will be happy to refer you (or hire you) if you seem to be a Reasonably Competent Human Being who enjoys selling real estate. You can't tell people this, you have to show them. Show up on time (with a smile on your face!), return phone calls promptly and do what you say you're going to do.
  • Don't ever whine about the real estate market. To anyone. Ever.

Being a positive, upbeat, confident person who believes in her heart that She's All That will attract plenty of business from both friends and strangers.

Oh, and this strategy works well with men, too.

Stay tuned for Part Two of SOI and the Single Gal...

 *SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You


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copyright Jennifer Allan 2007


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Comments (45)

Erica Wallace
the Wallace Consulting Group - Boston, MA
 Great great post! I totally agree....I think a lot of people get hung up on getting the referral that they forget to actually focus on the that and the referrals really will come. Also a fantastic analogy!
Aug 21, 2007 02:55 PM
Desiree Daniels
RE/MAX Tri County - Robbinsville, NJ
great analogy... or should i say "comparables"....   Congrats on the feature and Love the new picture
Aug 21, 2007 02:58 PM
Tracey Thomas
BrokerInTrust Real Estate - Calabasas, CA
CA Real Estate Broker
I love the analogy, it's so on target.
Aug 21, 2007 03:20 PM
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Okay, Jennifer, I understand changing the photo, but how is it you look YOUNGER???  :-)



Aug 21, 2007 03:32 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Well, shucks, thanks Susan!

I'm so impressed with all the responses - usually blogs about SOI or referrals will result in a smattering of applause but mostly sob stories about how "that doesn't work for me." It's refreshing to see so many agents who GET IT - that our friends have lives OUTSIDE of OUR real estate careers!

Erica - I love the way you said that - that should be a tagline somewhere.


Aug 21, 2007 10:20 PM
Michael I. Pulskamp
Mainstreet Brokers - Jackson, CA
REALTOR, EcoBroker, GREEN Desingnee

I like the new picture. Very friendly and human! not to mention joyful.
Aug 22, 2007 03:56 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Thanks Michael! I can always count on you for a smile.
Aug 23, 2007 03:49 AM
Doreen McPherson
Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe - Tempe, AZ
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~
I like this Jennifer.  I am heading over to read the other post.  I am not the type to do this and feel bad when I try.  I don't like to be ambushed either.  Thanks. 
Aug 23, 2007 05:54 PM
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents
This is exactly how I felt. I almost had a blog titled, Success in this business is very much like dating.... But I am not very good at "wooing". I think my husband did a much better job. (smile)...
Aug 25, 2007 10:59 AM
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500
You don't want to make a commitment to them...without knowing who they are and if they really care about you....great post!
Aug 26, 2007 12:19 PM
Cynthia Bartch
Granville, OH

Jennifer -  your line, "Your friends will be happy to refer you (or hire you) if you seem to be a Reasonably Competent Human Being who enjoys selling....", made me laugh out loud!

Keep writting and I'll keep reading, thanks.

Aug 27, 2007 08:16 AM
Natalie Langford
Realty Negotiations - Winchester, VA
Winchester, VA Real Estate
This whole line of thinking is great...It takes the pressure off.  I don't like creepy crawly sales people and I don't want to be one.  I LOVE this business and will work very hard for people, but I just can't beg/pester for referrals/business!  Jennifer, your a true blessing!!!!!! I'm so happy you have so many supporters because it validates what you are sharing with us.
Oct 17, 2007 01:22 AM
Denise Shockey
RE/MAX Aerospace Realty - Cocoa Beach, FL
Cocoa Beach, Brevard County Florida Real Estate

Hi Jennifer,

Great post!  Excellent ideas and what a creative way to expain SOI.  Thanks for sharing. 


Nov 19, 2007 09:07 AM
Robin Nagengast
I love the concept!  Could not think of any other way.  So here's the dilemma...I don't usually call everyone I know. Many people I know,  I see them when I see them.  That's when we catch up.  I don't know that many people who answer their phones-they let it go to voicemail and call back when they get a chance or after they know the nature of the call.  ideas?  I really want to be real, always.
Mar 13, 2008 01:48 PM
Jennifer Allan
Jennifer Allan, Inc. - Denver, CO

Hi Robin,

I don't call everyone I know, either. I call people I want to talk to/people I feel comfortable talking to. There are maybe 40 people in my SOI that I"d feel okay picking up the phone and asking out for coffee. The rest (maybe 150 or so) get a monthly mass-email (that I personally write) and two or three postal mailings from me a year. I get tons of business from these efforts!

I only call someone if I have something to say and sometimes, that's just "wanna go have a drink?" I'm not a big phone-chatter, even with my girlfriends. I wear out after 15 minutes or so!

Mar 14, 2008 04:23 AM
Kelly Bovi, Charlotte Area Real Estate
NavMak Enterprises, LLC - Charlotte, NC
Thanks for the great post, I like the analogy.
Mar 20, 2008 06:15 AM
Maui Real Estate - Lisa B. Miller R(S)
Keller Williams Realty Maui - Kihei, HI
Great post!  It's funny how finding our clients is very similiar to dating.  Thanks for sharing!
Mar 20, 2008 09:02 AM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
There are an amazing number of similarities! I have a list... maybe it will be a book someday!
Mar 22, 2008 12:40 PM
Bob Edwards
Coldwell Banker- The Real Estate Group, Inc. - Appleton, WI
Fox Cities Real Estate Hotline, SFR- Appleton, WI
I followed the links from post to post and everyone of them rings true Jennifer, your content reinforces my inner feelings.
Apr 07, 2008 02:48 AM
Valqer lzrdczycaewn
Sep 24, 2011 05:35 AM

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