In an industry as dependent on relationships and experience as commercial real estate, there’s no question that working with the right mentor is massively beneficial.
From connecting you to leaders in your market to helping you rethink and optimize business strategies, finding a mentor can mean the difference between success and failure. Here are five steps you can use today to start successfully connecting with the giants in your market.
1. Define yourself
Before you even think about finding a mentor, you need to decide precisely where you’re going to focus your business. Do you want to become an expert in Class A office properties? Or will you focus on helping investors find urban multifamily properties?
Whatever it is, solidify your goals and define your role in the market. This will make it much easier to identify possible mentors and communicate to them exactly what you are looking for.
And even if you decide against specializing in a single niche, as a generalist you still need to be able to effectively communicate where you fit in the market.
2. Identify reachable mentors
After you figure out your place in the market, look for successful people in your niche who you would love to emulate. While you may ultimately want to be your market’s top broker, if you’re just starting out that’s probably too far of a reach. Focus on targeting mentors appropriately.
So rather than trying to connect with the top broker in town, find someone who is a few steps ahead of you. This person will still have the knowledge to help you improve, but there won’t be anywhere near as much competition for their time. While you certainly want to be ambitious when finding a mentor, you’re more likely to succeed when your goals are reachable.
3. Research more than one person
Don’t just pick one person. Instead, identify at least three people you’d love to learn more from and start digging deeper.
A successful mentorship is similar to a friendship, so spend time figuring out if you and your potential mentors have anything in common. Have they authored any books? Do they run a blog? If so, read everything you can. You want to know what makes these people tick to determine if you'll be able to build a strong rapport with them.
Being a mentor takes time, and like everyone else, mentors will be much more willing to spend time with people they like. Figure out who you click with and focus your efforts there.
4. Make the connection
Now that you’ve done your research it’s time to get in touch with your future mentor. How you contact them depends on your situation, and while picking up the phone is always a good option, also consider introducing yourself at a convention or networking event.
When you do reach them, don’t ask them outright if they will mentor you. That’s too big a question to ask someone you’ve just met. Instead, simply ask if they have time to get coffee and talk about the latest market trends. After you’re done send them an email thanking them for their time and ask if they want to do it again next week.
Every relationship with a mentor should grow organically. At first, that means taking small steps to keep the relationship going. Eventually it will become a friendship with a life of its own.
5. Find ways to help
Perhaps most importantly, understand that a successful mentoring relationship is a two-way street.
Just because you aren’t a market leader doesn’t mean you can’t help your mentor. Rather than always expecting your mentor to help you and connect you to key players, focus on ways you can add value to the relationship.
Maybe your mentor is a slow adopter of technology, but you’ve had success prospecting and winning deals by using the latest technologies. If so, add value by offering to help your mentor get up to speed on the latest platforms. Whatever it is, the more ways you find to help your mentor the happier they will be spending time helping you.
A successful mentorship is all about building a strong relationship. And in an industry as relationship-centric as this, learning from the masters and connecting with power players is one of the best roads to success. So from defining your goals to creating meaningful relationships with market leaders, use these tips to propel your business forward.