SOI 101 - What Exactly is an SOI (Sphere of Influence) Business Model?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

A Sphere of Influence business model is a strategy that focuses on attracting business to you from the people you know and the people you meet socially, as opposed to pursuing business from strangers. It's possible to run a 100% SOI business and never have to make one cold call, memorize a prospecting script or knock on a strangers' door!

There are three primary activities in an effective SOI business

  1. Nurturing the personal relationships you already have within your social network (that is, your friends - I call this group my "Group One." Clever, eh?)

  2. Staying in touch with "everyone else" (that is, the people you know who aren't your friends - I call them my Group Two)

  3. Meeting new people.

Before you panic and say that you don't have the time, money or energy to do all this socializing, don't! Running an SOI business is much less time-consuming and less expensive than just about any other systematized prospecting method, and can be far more effective, more quickly. In fact, if you spend a few years creating your personal cheering section, you can pretty much coast through the rest of your real estate career. That's what I did and in my last five years I rarely worked more than 30 hours a week and my marketing budget was practically zero. My phone rang, I answered it, and whaddya' know?  I had a new client.

Nurturing the personal relationships you already have
From a philosophical perspective, this means to ensure that the people in your social network (AKA Group One) know that you care about them. In a practical sense, it means that you strive to have a personal conversation with everyone in your social network as often as you can, at least once a quarter. A personal conversation can be a face to face lunch or coffee date, a phone call or even an email exchange. What it's not is a concerted effort to abuse your friends with a sales pitch. Always approach your social network as a friend first, and a real estate agent second, or third, or fourth.  Not the other way around.

mailStaying in touch with Everyone Else
Staying in touch with your "everyone else" group (AKA Group Two) just means that you keep your name in front of this crowd with periodic interesting, relevant, non-salesy written communications, delivered both through snail-mail and email. As long as your mailings are consistent and intelligent, you'll see a significant number of sales from even this minimal effort.

Meeting new people
An important part of an effective SOI model is to add to your Groups One and Two, especially in today's market where there is admittedly less business to go around. The more people you know, who know you, and think you're a generally cool person, the more that telephone will ring.

Running an effective SOI business model isn't nearly as complicated as some would have you believe. Yes, it takes some organization and commitment upfront, and an ongoing effort to stay in touch with the people you know and the people you meet, but once it's rolling and you're in the SOI habit, it won't feel like work at all! In fact, it might even feel suspiciously like FUN! And "the more fun you have selling real estate, the more real estate you will sell!"

Stay tuned for more SOI 101 coming to a Selling Soulfully blog near you...


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James Wexler - Scottsdale, AZ

it seems this is the only way to build a long lasting business that you dont have to try and find new clients each and every month

Feb 05, 2009 02:10 AM #24
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

James - but y'know what? some agents LOVE to prospect and wouldn't be happy if they didn't have to do it the rest of their careers!

Feb 05, 2009 02:20 AM #25
Alexsandra Stewart
Remax equity group - Portland, OR
Broker - Portland Oregon Real Estate

Jennifer -- really great post.  As an extravert -- I love socializing and meeting new people, staying in touch and building realtionships.  As you can guess, I love the SOI model of doing business.   Was just out of town for a while, and am reconnecting with a few special folks by taking them tea and treats, saying hi and setting up time to hang out.  It's fun, and it's a great source of business too. 

Feb 05, 2009 03:35 AM #26
Carol Swain
Keller Williams Real Estate - Langhorne, PA
Realtor, Bucks County, Pa

Great Post!  Working your sphere is a great way to get business, it allows the majority of your business to be referrals and that is great!

Feb 05, 2009 03:49 AM #27
GreenTree Real Estate Services - Jeffersonville, IN
I have Your Best Interest at Heart

Thank you

Feb 05, 2009 04:36 AM #28
John Riche
Karwood Sales - Mount Pearl, NL
I don't peddle dream homes, I prevent nightmares.

Its these reminders of what works so easily that makes this post so valuable. Great Post!

Feb 05, 2009 04:53 AM #29
Sheldon Neal
Bergen County, NJ - RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Maywood, NJ
That British Agent Bergen County NJ

Hi Jennifer !

I have often wondered why more articles arent written on this subject ... I LOVE your post !

I subscribe to your theory here 100%, and it shows as 80% of my business is referral of some sort.

Fabulous !


Feb 05, 2009 05:10 AM #30
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jennifer, great blog!!!

Some times we are so focused on trying to get new clients, that we forget the gold mine that we have in our existing clients.

Feb 05, 2009 07:53 AM #31

Jennifer, I love you blog post and acknowledge that my contacts with my SOI need significant improvement.

Feb 05, 2009 10:20 AM #32
Janet Guilbault
Platinum Home Mortgage Company - Walnut Creek, CA
San Francisco Bay Area Direct Mortgage Lender

Jennifer: You are really an inspiration to me. The concept of working less and enjoying it more has been somewhat lost in the grand scheme of things. The concept of marketing to who you know gets lost in the rush to find brand new people via Internet social networking etc.

I sent out a silly New Year's card only to my SOI and immediately had business from it. Snail mail, old school, but it was if my SOI was actually hungary for their mortgage broker to connect with them!


Feb 05, 2009 10:40 AM #33
Gina Zimmerman
North Eastern Group Realty - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate

Yes, we often forgot who we want singing our praises.  Thanks for reminding me that my SOI will be the ones sending clients my way.  For each person I contact, they know 200 more people and those people know . . . .

Feb 05, 2009 01:12 PM #34
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

There you go, JA. 

Nice positive post.  Love your teaching.

I think it is spot on.

Thanks for writing,


Feb 05, 2009 01:14 PM #35
Tim Bradley
Contour Investment Properties - Jackson Hole, WY
Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY

Simple. And fabulous. Without consciously trying, this is essentially what I do. Now to see how more effective I can be by being a bit more systematic about it. Thank you!

Feb 06, 2009 02:43 PM #36
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

Jenny Jenny Bo Benny - you keep sharing the keys to the kingdom. i am surprised more folks are not coming on board.

I will not sully up the proceedings with self indulgent prattle. I will only share that this post is the delightful aroma that wafts through the air outside a meat lovers favorite steak house.


Feb 06, 2009 03:14 PM #37
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

JMac - you're too sweeeeeeet! And actually, lots of people are coming on board! It's a revolution! Well, okay, maybe that's a little melodramatic...

Tim - Cool! Just make sure not to let your systems do your SOI'ing for you - YOU do that -the systems just remind you to do it...

Janet - A 100% SOI model is a wonderful thing. And in my experience, the most important part of it is having SPC's (satisfied past clients). During my full-time career, I had more business than I could handle (ahhhhh, the good old days) and did zero prospecting... just showed up, worked hard and kept smiling (most of the time).

Feb 06, 2009 10:22 PM #38
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Interesting stats on the SOI Quiz - the women seem to be scoring much higher than the guys...

Feb 07, 2009 12:50 AM #39
Suzanne Gallegos
Equity Real Estate - Advantage - Salt Lake City, UT
Realtor - Salt Lake City, Utah Homes

Hi Jennifer,

I have been a subsciber to your blog and newsletter for some time now just for this reason! I so agree with you, and am counting on the fact that your ideas will work!

Feb 08, 2009 03:58 PM #41
Regina P. Brown
MBA Broker Consultants - Carlsbad, CA
M.B.A., Broker, Instructor

Jennifer, good post and I really enjoyed your tele-seminar on CMA's last week!

Join my new AR group and post your blog at

Regina P. Brown

Feb 13, 2009 10:27 AM #44
Woot, I will ceritalny put this to good use!
Sep 19, 2011 02:37 PM #45
Charlie Dresen
Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro

Great post and good advice. Time spent cultivating relationships (existing, new and on the horizon relationships) is time well spent. People listen to people they know, like and respect much more frequently then they listen to third party advice, advertising etc., so it makes sense to cultivate relationships in an effort to be top-of-mind when real estate is the topic of conversation.

Dec 07, 2011 01:09 AM #46
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