Can a Single Woman Expand Her Sphere of Influence Without Sending the Wrong Message?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

I have a friend; let's call her Sarah. She is a new real estate agent and is committed to an SOI* strategy to build her business. So far, it's going well - she's already experiencing some success and is optimistic that she will survive her first year without ever cold-calling, door-knocking, farming or advertising.

Here's the problem. Sarah has a new boyfriend. When said boyfriend couplerealized that Sarah freely hands out her phone number (in the form of her business card) to anyone who asks (regardless of gender), he was horrified. Not that he doesn't understand she has a business to build, but he's convinced that when Sarah cheerfully offers her phone number/business card to those of the male gender, they are going to assume that she is interested in them romantically. "That's the way men think, honey."

Sarah dismissed his concerns, assuring him that she keeps her SOI efforts on a professional level and that there is no funny business going on - either real or imagined. She simply doesn't believe that the men she prospects to have any notion that she might be open to their advances.  The boyfriend disagrees. It's causing some strain in their relationship.

Sarah asked me for my thoughts. Initially I agreed with her - that the BF needs to accept that his honey is in a business that requires her to socialize with male creatures.

But then I ran across a paragraph in a book I'm reading about the differences in brain chemistry between men and women and it made me rethink my position. The book said that " are very easily aroused and easily misconstrue the slightest hint of friendship as a sexual invitation." So I asked my own BF for his thoughts, as well as a couple of other men I know. They all adamantly agreed with Sarah's boyfriend that if a woman shows friendly interest in a man, he's absolutely going to interpret that as romantic interest on her part. If she gives him her phone number? She might as well have invited him in for a late-night coffee...

Any thoughts? No gender-bashing or ridicule, please. I'd love to hear from the men in the crowd how you honestly feel about this, as well as from any women who have experienced the same thing with their men...


* SOI Strategy = Building your business based on the personal relationiships in your life - the people you know and people you meet.




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Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton
Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC - Hilton Head Island, SC

This post generated a lot of interest---I think that if your friend presents herself as the ultimate professional at all times, she should be fine.

Sep 22, 2008 04:52 AM #97
Neal Bloom
Brokered by eXp Realty LLC - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate


All I can say is I'm married 18 yrs and we both have jobs where we have to deal with the opposite sex...but I guess it is working out fine.

I guess your friends situation would be different because it's a boyfriend /girlfriend thing but not a husband/wife. I would have to agree it could be a problem.

Sep 22, 2008 10:46 AM #98
Sheila Reeves

I would think the younger and more attractive a woman is, the more likely that is to happen.  Doesn't matter how she presents the card there are some men who will read more into it than there ever was.  Ignore them and continue doing business as you always have.  I've been there at a younger age and do know that it happens and that some men (and women) will try to sexualize everything.  Don't let it affect you and chances are they will get the message.  Your honey should understand and not be so insecure.

Sep 22, 2008 02:13 PM #99
Suzanne Gallegos
Equity Real Estate - Advantage - Salt Lake City, UT
Realtor - Salt Lake City, Utah Homes

Wow, the resposes here are eye opening. When I read the initial post I was thinking the BF needed to grow up. But, it seems like there is a fair amount of support here for his least more than I would have ever expected. I am a single female agent. I will think twice about how I present my business card to others from now on.

Sep 22, 2008 03:12 PM #100
Laura Sargent
Carolina One Real Estate - Mount Pleasant, SC

It is so annoying that giving a card, with a nice picture on it, and a cell phone number can be so misunderstood when coming from a woman.  I'm happily married and don't hide the fact yet I will still have men think that meeting for lunch to talk about the market could mean something else.  Keep business business and people can follow or get out of your way.

Sep 23, 2008 12:47 AM #101
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Of all the interesting comments presented here, I'm gonna vote for the overall concept that in a people business, which ours clearly is, sometimes you're just gonna have to deal with uncomfortable situations. Because... NEWSFLASH... People are imperfect creatures! I certainly won't fault a man for pursuing something he wants (after all, if I were single, I'd hate it if he didn't!) and yes, it's up to the woman to tactfully handle the situation on a case by case basis. Sometimes it will go better than others; sometimes she'll end up with a client; sometimes she won't.

But I'll make it clear that I do not fault Sarah's boyfriend - if he's never been in sales or been self-employed, I can totally see how the concept of socializing for dollars might seem a bit threatening... and frankly... it CAN BE. I mean, we real estate agents are in a business where we meet interesting people on a regular basis - kinda like rock stars (tee hee!)

Sep 23, 2008 12:56 AM #102
RE/MAX Realty Professionals - Wichita, KS

Reminds me of the dialogue between Harry and Sally in "When Harry Met Sally" and he talks about how men and women can't be friends because the man wants to get physical with the woman.  Even the ugly ones.  "You pretty much wanna do them too"

Love that movie



Sep 23, 2008 04:20 PM #103

Jennifer, I can sell soulfully, but what about solefully? Haha

Sep 24, 2008 12:33 AM #104
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Hi Jennifer!

This topic goes both ways.  I have invited potential referral sources to coffee or a drink in the past and had it taken the wrong way with the other party showing up thinking it was a date rather than a business appointment. Flattering for me, but not exactly productive from a business standpoint!

I can see both sides of the argument... Men and women can pick up or misread signals, so we need to hand out our cards with some sort of a disclaimer, "I'm not looking for a date, but I wanted to remind you that I am in the Real Estate Business"

I think most of us in this business have a flirtatious side, and we may not even realize that it is turned on in a conversation... We are social people and I guess not every one understands that... In any business enviornment a friendly smile can be taken the wrong way but when we are in a relationship business I guess it happens more often

Sep 24, 2008 02:32 AM #105
Todd Hillman,
HomeSmart - Phoenix, AZ
Broker Associate, M.A.

All good agents know that "Everyone is a potential client." So it makes sense for Sara to give out her card freely. It impresses people when someone cheerfully and boldly asks for business. It shows drive and iniative-two things most want in a REALTOR. When one starts out, business doesn't just show up, you have to create it. The way she is doing this makes alot of sense.

As for the boyfriend, this could be the root of other issues in the blossoming relationship. If she wants to have a successful career and successful relationship, he needs to understand or she needs to look for someone who is outgoing and shares her views and beliefs. He seems not very secure while she is secure and ready to succeed.

Sep 24, 2008 04:33 AM #106
Rick Goates

I think two things here...first off she needs to get a new BF if he is the jealous type!! Second handing out a business card can be a business act or something else depending on how it is done and what "INTENTION" is behind it.... a card to a cute guy with a wink is one thing...handing out a card with just a smile and the comment I am here to help you with any of your "Real EState" needs is another.....

Yes most guys can be dogs! But there ARE some good dogs out there...and those...they can hunt!

Just a Guys opinion...




Sep 25, 2008 03:16 AM #109
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

We really should move from the "jealous boyfriend" angle cause it's old and kind of boring and really irrelevant to what Jennifer was trying to approach in this post.

I had a boyfriend who chastised me for making eye contact and smiling at strangers in the store or mall, etc...he constantly told me I was going to get raped.  SO I got rid of him, he was a dork.

Fact is, though, some guys DO react to any attention from a female as a sign of interest in a more intimate relationship. 

This agent could dump her boyfriend and still have the same problem...will guys see her handing her business card out or friendly gestures as an invitation for a non-professional relationship...the boyfriend has ALERTED her to this reaction that may come from men.

What are WE as female agents going to do about it?  How can WE approach it in a way that it ALWAYS remains professional and business like, and effective at the same time?

Like it or not, some guys are definitely wired this way.  Not all, though...when I told my husband about this he shook his head in disbelief, it would never have occurred to him to think that a woman was interested in him by giving out her card (but then again, I had to pursue him for years, so...he may not be the best example  here.LOL)


Sep 25, 2008 04:04 AM #110
Dena Stevens Coriz
Rocky Mountain Realty - Canon City, CO
Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004

As a single woman myself I understand the issue. When I meet men on the social scene I hesitate telling them what I do for a living. I've had men assume that because I sell real estate and because I'm single all signs say "go." I've gotten to where I really protect myself and sometimes that means I unintentionally scare men off.

Sep 25, 2008 05:48 AM #111
Nick Good
The Good Home Team with eXp Realty - Plano, TX

excellent post!  If I were her BF then I personally would be fine with it... even if I weren't in this business I would still be okay with it.  I know that in any business you have to build up your base and if guys are willing to buy or sell a house because they are attracted to her then more power to her...  As the BF I would just keep an eye on her just to make sure that the guys don't get crazy on her.



Sep 25, 2008 08:37 AM #112
Linda Jandura
Raleigh Cary Realty - Apex, NC
Realtor, North Carolina Buyer & Seller Specialist

Jennifer, I'm new to your blogs and newsletter, but I feel like I've found a friend, or myself.  I read this blog last night and had to think about it for a while.

Basically, sex sells. It always has, always will. "Sarah" is probably not intentionally flirting with any guy, but maybe her boyfriend thinks guys will get that impression, because he does when a woman in business talks to him.

He will just have to get over it, because gone are the days when women stayed in the house, barefoot and pregnant. We're out there in the world, trying to make a living, just like guys. Most men know this.

Sep 25, 2008 09:52 AM #113
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Hi Jennifer - I think it's part of being in real estate.  Especially the female agent is young and attractive I'm sure some of the men in her SOI are going to be attracted to her.  However, as agents we need to build a business and I think by only building relationships with woman your friend is going to limit her world (real estate wise).  So with that being said, I think BF needs to be supportive and not worry about possible male's in her SOI hitting on her.  Relationships are built on trust and regardless of whether your friend gets hit on or not shouldn't make or break her current relationship.  There's a difference in being asked out and politely declining than taking the male SOI buddy on his offer.  And yes, some men may think she's being overly friendly, but that possibility wouldn't stop me.  If it got too far, I would call them on it.

Sometimes I forget to wear my wedding band, and I have been asked on dates several times.  Now I'm married, so for me it's kind of flattering.  But I always decline and my husband trusts me to be faithful and I wouldn't dream of not.  I also am lucky to have a husband who is not jealous of who I'm talking to.  He understands that every contact I make (as you always say) is a potential $10,000 commission check and since I help pay the bills, he'd be a fool to get jealous.

If they were married, BF may think of this situation differently, since I'm sure he would be enjoying the lifestyle from every potential relationship that did lead to a $10,000 paycheck.

Sep 25, 2008 10:33 AM #114
Tim Rogers
Coaches Corner Radio...The Real Estate Guy - State College, PA

This is an interesting subject to ponder and I have read all the comments and they pretty much cover the subject matter.  I have business and networking meetings with both men and woman on an on-going basis and the sexual part of the equation never enters into the equation for me, and my wife has no problem with me having lunch with another woman if the focus is business related and it advances my business and income.

That said, I'm reminded of Kosmo Kramer in numerous Seinfeld episodes when a woman even remotely acknowledges his existence.  He proudly turns around and quietly whispers (once in a while he shouts it), OH MOMMA! and there is definetly a sexual undertone to the comment.  I know many a guy that would make the same comment under his breath if a single woman handed him a business card with all of her contact information.

I guess it is the ethics and morality of the guy receiving the business card.  Is he thinking OH MOMMA?  Or is he thinking, Wow, she can definetly help me with my housing, mortgage, investment, etc. situation?  I suppose you never know.


Sep 26, 2008 06:59 AM #115
Marlene Pellegrini
Norwich, CT

Hi Jennifer,

I Just wrote a post about you.  Please take the time to check it out.  The link is:




Sep 29, 2008 02:50 AM #116
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

Jennifer - I am sorry to say that there is no hard and fast rule here. I do think that men tend to read women terribly. One of the biggest dangers people face in the SOI world is that the I is misread.

I have a partner, who is oblivious to these dangers. She gets calls from cards passed that have little to do with any real estate other than the property inside her jeans.

I think the problem is easily dealt with. If a man reads your intentions incorrectly, let him know. Maybe the next interaction he has with a female will result in him thinking with his brain rather than another part of his anatomy.

Oct 03, 2008 07:07 AM #117
Margaret Mitchell
Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty - York, ME
Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate

I think if a man misunderstands Sarah's intentions she can easily correct the misimpression.  She can be nice but firm about it.  If her boyfriend has a problem with Sarah handing out her business card, then Sarah needs to tell her boyfriend that he needs to correct HIS problem or it will damage their relationship.  Under no circumstances should Sarah buy into HIS problem.  Does he really think she is so naive or incompetent that she can't handle this?

Now if Sarah's boyfiend continues to try and make HIS problem, Sarah's problem and responsibility, then she should follow Lisa Hill's advice above, and kick him to the curb.  This whole conversation feels like a throwback to the seventies.  Let's not go there.

Oct 11, 2008 12:55 PM #118
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