We all know that increasing your sphere of influence (SOI) can lead to more referrals, more leads and more commissions, so connecting with new people on a regular basis is key to a successful real estate career.

But did you know it can also improve your health?

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Multiple studies show that people who interact regularly with passing acquaintances, or who engage with others through community groups, religious gatherings or volunteer opportunities, have better emotional and physical health and live longer than people who do not.”

It’s also a proven mood booster.

According to research studies by Dr. Gillian Sandstrom, a psychologist and senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in Colchester, England, “participants who engaged in a social interaction with a barista, by smiling, making eye contact and having a brief conversation experienced greater feelings of well-being and belonging than those whose interaction was limited.”

But I’m shy, and talking to strangers is scary.

While striking up a conversation with a stranger can be intimidating and daunting, here’s three tips to help you bridge that gap.  The added bonus – you’ll be happier, healthier, and you may even increase your SOI!

1. Start with an easy target

Say hi to someone you see regularly like the person at your gym or at your local coffee shop. Megan Napier, with Napier Realtors ERA, recalls a time when she started a conversation with a guy from her gym, who turned out to be an investor.  “I ended up helping him buy and sell about 30 homes in two years,” she says. 

2. Bond during a shared experience

Start chatting with the person next to you in that long line at the DMV, while waiting for your airplane, or watching your kids play sports. “The airport is a hot spot, both while waiting for a flight and in-flight!  I’ve made some great friends and business connections there.  I’ve witnessed others get business too,” says Elza Hayen,  ERA Real Estate brand ambassador and former director of marketing at ERA Wilder Realty.

3. Rock your brand

Headed out for errands and meetings?  Wear your ERA t-shirts, hoodies, and Chuck Taylors!  “Wear your branded gear and people will know you mean business!” advises Cheryl Trudon of ERA Blanchard & Rossetto, Inc.

“I was in line at Dunkin’ Donuts and wearing my name tag, and the customer behind me asked, ‘how’s the market?’” recalls Debbie Raccuglia-Smith, of ERA Home Run Real Estate.  “He said he was interested in selling, but not here.  I responded – no problem – I can help you across the country.   The outgoing referral paid me $1750!”

“The customer was so happy he referred me to a friend in my market looking to sell his house,” she continued.  “It listed at $300,000 and sold at asking price in four days to earn me another $9000!” 

So next time you’re getting your morning coffee, picking up your dry cleaning, or cheering on your soccer superstar,  get out of your comfort zone and say hi to the person next to you.   What happens next may surprise you.  

Did you ever start a conversation with a stranger that led to increasing your business? I’d love to hear about it.  Email me at maggie.rohr@teamera.com