Engaging a mentor

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With more than 10,000 active agents competing for business in New Zealand, the real estate industry can be a tough nut to crack. With so much to learn, engaging a mentor could be the key to your career success.

So where do you start? How do you find a mentor, how do you approach a mentor and, once you’ve got one, do you need to pay them?

What is a mentor?

Put simply, a mentor is a trusted advisor.

A mentor is a sounding board who you can bounce ideas off for an unfiltered opinion. They are likely to be a connector – someone who can provide access to others who can help you to excel in your career.

Having a mentor is having a relationship with somebody who can help you grow professionally, but remember it’s ultimately for your benefit – not theirs. So, give it the commitment it deserves.

A mentor doesn’t necessarily need to be from the same industry as you. Sometimes it’s better to have an advisor on-hand who can bring experience from other business environments to help you both challenge and focus your thinking.

Why is a mentor important to my career success?

Your success as a real estate agent is determined by many different factors.

Your personal brand, sales ability, local knowledge, and how you interact professionally all play a role in determining your on-the-job success.

A mentor will not only share their knowledge with you, they will show you the ropes so that you too can achieve success, and will help you to apply critical thinking to your business decisions, to help you work smarter and better.

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Benjamin Franklin

Choosing a mentor

Before you begin searching for a mentor it’s important to consider the skills and strengths you’d like to fine-tune.

Knowing what you want is the first crucial step in the mentor hunt – it helps you to identify what specific help you’re looking for from a mentor, and it doesn’t waste a prospective mentor’s time.

If you’re just starting your career you may want some specific real estate guidance from an industry expert. Or you may want to hone your social media skills, in which case you’d look to get somebody who’s digitally savvy.

You simply may not know what you need, in which case you’ll benefit from somebody who can help you to review where you’re at and where you want to be.

It can help to have more than one mentor, especially if you fear that you’re taking up too much of your mentor's time or you’re looking for guidance on different topics. However, ensure your mentors have a complementary approach so you’re not getting conflicting viewpoints.

How do I find a mentor?

Now that you know what you’re looking for in a mentor, it’s time to reach out to people you already know and professionally admire, or foster new connections to find someone with the strengths and skills you’d like to learn from.

Mentors can be found via various avenues including:

  • Friends and family

  • Colleagues and bosses

  • Local professional organisations (Chamber of Commerce)

  • Industry organisations

  • Social media connections (LinkedIn)

How do I approach a mentor to ask for help?

Getting your chosen mentor over the line is all about buy-in – and you’re already in the best industry for that!

Explain how you’d appreciate the chance to use their expertise, and how this would be beneficial to them:

  1. Do your research – know a bit about the person and their career.

  2. Explain the reason you’re contacting them.

  3. Talk to them about your careers and your future goals.

  4. Explain why you’d like them to be your mentor.

If they agree, propose and agree on regular scheduled meetings going forward.

More often than not, a person would be humbled to be asked to be a mentor – it’s recognition that they’re respected for their expertise and gives them an opportunity to share their insights with somebody who is willing to learn.

Do I need to pay my mentor?

In many cases mentors don’t expect to be paid.

But showing your appreciation by offering to buy lunch or a coffee and a muffin during your meetings, and the occasional thank you gift, goes a long way towards a long-term mentorship. As does keeping your mentor updated with successes their advice has led you to achieve.

Discussing your mentor’s expectations from the get-go so you both know where you stand. And respect their time by not overbooking them, especially if they’re not being paid – their time is valuable!

Things to remember on your mentor-mentee journey:

  • If you don’t succeed at first, keep looking – you may not hit jackpot the first time but don’t let this deter you from your mentor hunt.

  • Let your relationship evolve naturally – don’t force it, and keep your expectations in check.

  • When the going gets tough, keep going – take constructive criticism on-board. Your mentor is giving this to you to help you succeed – they’re not doing it to drag you down.

  • Commitment is key – Make sure you and your mentor are in this for the long haul. Ensure you put in the time and the work required to make the relationship succeed.

  • Things change – as you grow in your career your needs will change as your skills and experience develop.

  • Respect and acknowledge your mentor’s time and commitment. They could be doing a million other things with their time but instead they’re investing it in you – so make sure they know you appreciate their support and are acting on their advice.