No matter how good you are at your job, no matter how much time you invest in working a deal or studying a market, there is always room for improvement. It’s true whether you close $1.2 million worth of transactions a year or $120 million. No matter how knowledgeable you think you are, there is always going to be someone better than you. Commercial real estate, in particular, thrives off competition.
But not all other brokers need to be competition. In fact, they can help you.
Choosing a mentor is an important step in boosting your career. You should never stop learning, and one of the best ways to do that is to get advice from someone who knows what they’re doing. Whether it’s a formal arrangement through your firm or an informal alliance with an old boss, a mentor can impart valuable knowledge and strategies.
1. They open doors.
Mentors who are willing to take on the role can introduce you to people you never had access to before. These connections may come in the form of a lunch date, a guest ticket to a conference or even an invitation to join a property tour.
Mentors know they got where they are because of a handful of people who were willing to listen and take a chance on them. Many are happy to pay it forward and do the same for the next generation. Respect the process and say “yes” as much as you can, accepting invitations, introductions and assistance whenever possible. You never know how, why, where or when you may meet that one decision-maker who changes the course of your career.
2. They provide informal guidance.
We’ve all been in situations where we’re not exactly sure what we should do, but we don’t always ask for the advice we need. We don’t want to risk sounding uninformed or unsure of what to do when we have to ask a colleague or boss about a tenant improvement demand, a buyer’s counteroffer or a lender’s request for more information.
But clients have questions regarding a variety of topics, and it is our job to advise them as best we can.
Mentors can be a valuable source of judgement-free advice. They can act as a sounding board when you don’t know what to do and are walking the line between salesperson and counselor.
3. You can learn from their mistakes.
Though a mentor is also still learning as he or she evolves within their own career, there are undoubtedly a great many lessons they’ve taken from some early missteps. All of us are destined to learn a few lessons the hard way, after all.
A mentor, however, can ease these falls by sharing those lessons. Perhaps there was an incident where they didn’t review the paperwork to ensure all signatures were in place prior to a deal closing. Or maybe they attended a networking event so they could mention a potential buyer to another broker in the room but failed to exchange that information.
We all have those moments where we realize, as good as we are at our jobs, we don’t know everything. We can always be a little bit better. A mentor can make the waters a little calmer as we navigate this crazy thing we call the commercial real estate market.