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One thing that can make an enormous difference in your career success as an agent is whether or not you have a high-quality mentor who can help you navigate the ins and outs of real estate. In fact, many agents discover that they operate very well if they have more than one mentor to tap for questions and advice.
Your real estate broker may be one of your first mentors, and if you really want to hone your skills and become the very best agent you can be, then you should also seek out other mentors who can help round out your experience and education. But how do you find a mentor? Here are the steps you should be taken consistently in order to keep a good number of mentors in your world as an agent.
Network, network, network
This is very standard advice for real estate agents; you have to network to find clients, after all. Networking with other agents can be beneficial for many reasons besides seeking out a mentor — you’ll meet people who can refer clients to you, for example, or who might know good resources for title and escrow, inspections and appraisals, or mortgage loan issues.
You should also network to keep your eyes open for potential mentors in your area. A good mentor will not only have more experience in real estate than you have; they’ll also understand the market and be able to give you advice on how to read it and share what they’ve learned.
Don’t walk up to a possible mentor and simply ask them to be your mentor, all that said. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to form a relationship with your mentor or mentors where they can help teach you about real estate and you can help them in some other way.
Start forming relationships
The best mentors are good not because they necessarily know better than everyone else; they’re the best because they understand your situation, your needs, your career goals and aspirations — and they know how to help you achieve those goals. This means that they’re going to have to get to know you as a person in addition to as an agent, and you’re going to have to be able to talk to them very frankly to get the best advice.
In other words, you’re going to have to form a real relationship with your mentor in order to truly benefit from your encounters and discussions. While you’re networking, make sure you’re spending a good portion of your time just getting to know people on a personal level. If your mentor can understand some of your life situations because they’ve been there before — and you can trust that they understand it because you know their history — then you can both cut through a lot of the explanations around why you think and feel the way you do and get straight to how you are going to strategize and operate around your challenges.
Decide who’s mentor material
You may really click with some people who you meet in a networking environment, but you know that for whatever reason, they aren’t going to work out as a mentor for you. That’s fine! You’re allowed to make friends and acquaintances, too. And on the flip side, you may meet people who you think would make excellent mentors, but for whatever reason, they aren’t going to be able to fill that role for you. These are all reasons why it’s smart to try to make more than one mentor connection if you can — there is no rule that says you can only have one mentor at the time, after all.
Think about the people you’ve met and consider their levels of experience and areas of expertise. Do you think any of them might have some information or skills that you could also use? Do any of those people who do seem like they could help you also seem interested in spending more time with you or forming a deeper relationship?
Hopefully, by this point you’ll have a shortlist of possible mentors, and you can start thinking more deeply about where you need help and where they might be able to assist you.
Assess your skills and ask for help …
Even though humans do have a tendency to overestimate their skills at just about everything, we also tend to be pretty good at knowing where we are strongest and where we could probably use a little bit of remedial assistance. It isn’t a mark of failure to understand that your financial planning could be better, or that you aren’t very familiar with marketing tactics in real estate, or that thinking about negotiating makes you feel a little bit nervous.
When you know where you need the most education and training, it’ll give you a better idea of whom in your mentor network to approach. You’ll know who’s best-suited to answer which questions and who might not be an expert in certain areas, and you can ask them for advice accordingly.
… While taking stock of how you can help, too
Most people tend to think of mentorship as a bit of a one-way street between the mentor and the mentee, but that absolutely does not have to be the case. There might be a lot you can do to help your mentor, both to thank them for the ways in which they’ve helped you and also to signal to them that you yourself are a resource and an asset to their business.
Perhaps one of your mentors keeps talking about learning the ins and outs of the latest social media platform but hasn’t had time to do it, and you could sit down with them and offer an hourlong hands-on tutorial. Maybe they need a landing page or listing description written, or someone to look over their website for typos. Your skills are likely just as varied as the mentors you’ve encountered, so think about what you can offer them — then offer it.
Talk about your challenges
Even the best mentor in the world can’t be expected to help a mentee solve a problem that they don’t know the mentee is currently juggling. It’s almost never the easiest thing in the world to be vulnerable with someone, especially someone you respect and whose respect you crave in exchange, but don’t lose sight of the end goal, which is to be the very best real estate agent that you’re capable of becoming. You can’t do that if your mentors don’t know about the problem client who’s been giving you headaches and exactly why the client is upset with you.
When you’ve reached a point in your relationship with your mentor where there’s been some reciprocal exchange of education and resources, it’s acceptable to approach them and ask them for their advice with a specific challenge that’s bothering you.
Take feedback to heart
Look, nobody likes to hear that they messed up; it’s human nature to shun that kind of feedback. Nonetheless, we have to hear it if we want to improve. One of the most valuable things any mentor can do for you is to provide straightforward, unbiased feedback about how you’re doing and where you could be better. And one of the smartest things you can do when you’re put in the position of listening to this feedback is to really listen, ask questions, refuse to get defensive and apply it when and where you can.
Believe that your mentors will notice how coachable you are. It will make them more inclined to share more wisdom with you in the future if they know that you take their experience and advice seriously.
Some agents might dismiss coaching as an unnecessary expense, but smart agents think of it as an investment in their own future. Even if you have the most amazing network of mentors that has ever been seen in the history of real estate, you could still benefit from a coach — someone whose entire job and career is to make you better at yours, to call you on any excuses you’re making, and to hold you accountable to your goals. Many mentors can do some of these things some of the time, but almost no mentor will do all of them for you consistently, and when you reach a point in your career when you’re finding that you need deeper evaluation and fine-tuning of your strategies and efforts, a coach might be the next logical step for you.