Mentoring is more than a buzzword. The right mentoring relationship can be a powerful tool for professional growth and can lead to promotion, better work and life balance and even a great new job. It is the cornerstone for advancement that relies on leveraging relationships and business networking, especially in an industry such as real estate.
The trickiest aspect of finding the right career mentor is finding an individual you can relate to and look up to, who will freely share how they accomplished their goals, and will openly offer you feedback and advice.
Here's why a career mentor is essential for growth and how to find one.
Why is a career mentor in real estate important?
Whether you are just starting on your real estate career and still learning the fundamentals of the property market or looking to give your career a refresh, real estate career mentors can offer great insights into the tricks of the trade. A mentor will give you straightforward advice and practical feedback on your ideas.
Here are just some of the reasons to use a real estate career mentor:
- A real estate career mentor can teach you about the areas where you may lack experience. Even if you don't have any significant plans to expand into a particular sector, you may change your mind when you talk to an expert.
- Using a mentor can help you to limit your risk by learning from their mistakes. A mentor will talk to you about their successes and be honest with you about their mistakes and what they wish they'd done instead.
- A mentor can be the motivation and support you need to stop procrastinating and take action. If you are risk-averse or doubting your ability and skills to accelerate your career, a mentor can be a great way to help you find faith in yourself.
Tom Gaffney, Managing Director of CBRE Hong Kong, is a huge advocate of career mentoring. He says:
It's extremely important in those early years to find a mentor or find someone you can speak openly to, whether that's in your company or external. Share your challenges and go to them with choices: 'which one would you pick if you were me, A, B, or C?'. You'll quickly realise that there are a lot of people out there who want to see you do well."
What makes a good career mentor?
A good career mentor isn't simply someone to spoon-feed you ideas and suggestions. The primary purpose of a mentor is to share their experiences with you and offer you guidance. They will make you feel comfortable to voice your concerns without feeling awkward. At the same time, a good real estate mentor will encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. They should not try to force you into a particular direction.
While a mentor should feel able to tell you where they think you are going wrong, they should do this based on facts rather than just giving their own opinions. You want someone who asks just as many questions as they give you advice, often helping you to find answers to your own questions. This shows that they will explore what you need rather than just giving you a one-size-fits-all response.
As you look to a mentor to share their knowledge and experience, a good career mentor will recognise that they don't have a monopoly on knowledge and are still learning themselves. It a tell-tale sign that they are not simply resting on their laurels but have a lasting commitment to continue their personal growth and adapt to the changing market.
Ask them about their own mentors. Despite where they are in their career and their professional successes, chances are they are still in touch with their mentor.
As Gaffney explains: "Where I had been fortunate in the early years of my career, I was able to latch on to some of the best people to be mentored by, and I still go to these people today for guidance and support or council when I run into a problem."
Where to find a mentor in real estate
A traditional channel would be having a senior work colleague, often one you get along with very well. Many senior managers have been in your position and are open to helping you with their own experience. Networking and online communities are other avenues you can pursue.
Professional networking events provide an excellent opportunity to meet potential career mentors. However, don't just dive straight in and ask them to be your career mentor. Instead, get a feel for each other by building up a rapport. Make sure you leave the event with their contact details or as a LinkedIn contact. You can then build on that initial meeting by commenting on their posts to help the transition into mentorship be organic as possible.
Whether you use a mentor as just a sounding board or put their advice into practice, regardless of where you are in your real estate career, a mentor can be just what you need to take your career to the next level.
A newer and wider avenue would be finding a person you look up to online. However, it isn’t as simple as just hitting up the usual search engines. While you will undoubtedly find an abundance of mentors that way, avoid those that charge money for their service.
Often the best real estate career mentors are those who rely on word of mouth and referrals. An excellent place to start looking is LinkedIn, real estate forums, or simply asking your existing base of contacts.
Using LinkedIn enables you to scour your contacts for someone interested or experienced in what you want to know, and then embark on more organic conversations within the platform. Commenting on people's shares and posts will give you an idea of their personality and if the both of you would make a good fit, helping you avoid just diving straight in and asking to be mentored.
Real estate forums are a great place to find honest reviews as people are often more than happy to voice their complaints about people who haven't worked well for them.