Who Wants to be a Real Estate Mentor?
There are lots of ways to leave a lasting mark as a real estate agent. Obviously, making a professional name for yourself – both by reputation or, often, with your name on your own realty company or group of associated employees – should be the goal of any serious real estate agent.
There is also community involvement. Studies show that the more connected an agent is with his or her community, both civically and philanthropically, the more success they experience with their business. The important connections made in membership organizations, volunteer boards and at charity events and committee meetings can be invaluable to building your book of business and elevating your brand.
But there’s a third prong to a real estate agent’s legacy: The younger agents that he or she helps to establish their own successful businesses, either through active management or, as is increasingly popular, mentorship.
In any business, having an experienced colleague to bounce ideas and problems off of is a valuable asset, and real estate is no different. There are few real estate situations that haven’t been encountered before, and having someone in your corner – even someone who isn’t your boss or a co-worker – can be both empowering and educational for the younger agent, and fulfilling and self-actualizing for the older one.
After all, you want to retire to that second home in Palm Springs, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to inspire with your success (and invite them there on vacation)?
There are ways to make the mentorship experience more fulfilling for both mentor and mentee. Here are a few things to think about if this is something you’re interested in pursuing as you contemplate your legacy.
While it’s certainly admirable to mentor someone who may be struggling in the industry, think long and hard about his or her skill set and whether they actually have the abilities – and more importantly the drive – to excel in real estate. Often, mentorship candidates will present themselves, either by asking outright for your advice or by exhibiting ability that you just can’t help but notice. You may think you have an eye for a diamond in the rough, but in the end you’re going to want the young agents associated with your name to have the quality, and success, that you yourself exhibit.
You may have LOTS of young agents seeking you out for advice. Try to keep your tribe small. You don’t want to overextend yourself, and you want your mentees to feel like they’re part of a very exclusive family, not just another body in an Intro to Business course.
Mix up the demographics of your mentee pool. Men, women, young agents and second-career types. Look for racial diversity, if it exists in your market. Talk to agents who work in tougher neighborhoods as well as the hot districts. It will make you a better mentor – and possibly agent – in the long run.
Sure, you probably have a public brand or persona; you might even be a real estate coach whose very business is built on delivering a single, signature experience to many agents. But in these settings, you need to be yourself. Show these agents how you sell real estate, but also how you live your life and manage the demands of the job. If appropriate, get to know their families and let them get to know yours. Many mentor/mentee relationships wind up as lifelong friendships – you’ll know the ones worthy of this status sooner rather than later.
Pick up the Check
With the time investment will come a bit of financial investment as well. Particularly if this agent is just starting out and building his or her business, offer to pick up that monthly lunch tab or happy hour bill. They’ll remember it – and appreciate it.
Don’t Hold Back
Often, your mentee will come to you in a moment of crisis; either something is going badly wrong or they messed up. In order to be trusted you must tell the truth, and if this person has made a mistake or is on the verge of one, don’t pull your punches. Be fair but honest. It may be a tough pill for them to swallow, but they will thank you for it. If not, they weren’t that interested in learning anyway.
It Isn’t About You
Sure, there’s satisfaction that comes with teaching. If there isn’t you shouldn’t do it. But these conversations aren’t really about validating your business or your experience, it’s about sharing it with someone who hopefully can be in YOUR position years down the road, and in return pass on their successes to another generation of agents…
… and hopefully invite them to their own home in Palm Springs someday.