If you frequent real estate sites, blogs, forums, etc. as I do, there are many issues that tend to show up over and over again. One such issue is that of real estate mentoring.
The real estate industry certainly hasn't cornered the market on mentoring; it's been a hot topic of conversation for years. From business groups to sports teams, from arts organizations to charitable organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the importance of mentoring has been well established. That said, mentoring shows up so often in real estate investing instructional content that it begs the question: Why is it so important to find a mentor?
The short answer? This is a difficult and scary business. As you know if you're just starting out (and probably remember if you've been at it for a while), the real estate investing business can be pretty intimidating at first. There is a lot of misinformation out there from unscrupulous people designed to separate you from your money, so it can be difficult to know from whom to take advice. On top of that, you have people who hold themselves or their organizations -- and often both -- up as leaders, while they are merely marketing fronts taking advertising fees to promote anyone and everyone. So who to take advice from...real advice and accountability can be a hard questions to figure out. When you consider that, real estate investing is, by nature, a risky endeavor; mistakes can be magnified when they show up as cold, hard numbers -- or lack thereof -- on your bank statement. That makes it all the more important to make sure you not only surround yourself with great advice, but more importantly, great people.
Investors have to be careful and educated when taking the step into real estate investing and mentors can be an essential tool for success. More than likely, you will not find them at seminars and expos nor with ads on Craigslist. They are the people who have been buying and selling for quite a while and they are the first to tell you that real estate investing is not all rainbows and roses - nor is the frightful endeavor with dangers all around that others make it out to be. With that in mind, we're here to share a few tips with our Memphis real estate enthusiasts on how to find and choose the right mentor for you.
Use Personal Contacts
If you already know someone who's a real estate investor -- and it's someone you trust -- then, of course, ask him or her first. Even if he or she is not available due to other commitments, etc., they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who is available. This is usually a great first place to look for when trying to find a mentor and the easiest to set up a meeting. I would suggest simply asking for a meeting and being very direct on the purpose. If you truly want to be successful as a real estate investor, then most will recognize it right away and appreciate the direct nature that you ask. It does not mean they will say yes, but most will appreciate the lack of a dog and pony show put together for simply asking for help.
Use Existing Professional Networks
Whether it's a small business association, networking group, or civic organization, you probably belong to some professional organization of which a real estate investor is a member. At the very least, there's probably someone who's a member who knows a reputable real estate investor. Work those connections; that's what they're there for! This is where after hours mixers, a cup of coffee or even a quick lunch is probably an appropriate invite. If they accept then get right to the point as quickly as possible. When you sit down with someone who is in a position that you want to get to, just be direct and let them know you come asking for help out of respect. In professional network settings I have found this to be the best approach.
Keep Your Ears Open
Coffee shops. Tennis league. Golf outings. Your child's little league practice. These are all examples of places/situations in which you're likely to run across real estate investors. Coffee shops can be an especially good place to catch investors, as it's the perfect pit stop for investors between meetings, deals, rent collection, etc. If you're overly shy, there's no time like the present to overcome it! It's imperative you learn to assert yourself in this business. You may be surprised what kind of help you can get if you simply ask for it!
And when you do find someone you'd like to mentor you, make sure you...
Okay, so you've found someone you'd like to mentor you in the real estate business. Now what?
Well, now you have to convince her to actually be your mentor.
The best way to go about this is to offer value to her. Make it clear to her that you have something to offer in return for the time you'll be expecting.
This is not the time to be proud. Sure, you've got a leg up if you're in a field that can already be of value to a real estate investor: finance, construction, etc. But even if you don't, it doesn't mean you have nothing to offer. If your prospective mentor has grunt work he/she needs done, get in there and get your hands dirty. Whether it's collecting rent, taking pictures of possible rental purchases, etc.), or just running errands to free up some time, make it clear that you are there to make things easier in some way for your mentor-to-be. And this work-in-trade arrangement has an excellent benefit: You'll be learning on the job!
What are your thoughts on real estate mentoring? Do you/did you have a mentor? Please share your answers in the comments!
We've put together a quick video on the Top 11 Mistakes To Avoid In Real Estate. If you'd like to view the video just click on the link below!