How To Find [& Keep] Real Estate Industry Mentors
Learning from someone who has already done what you want to do is one of the best ways to get where you want to go, but finding and keeping mentors can be a lot more difficult than it might sound.
Between deciding on who you want in your corner in the first place, coming up with a strategy for how to get in front of these people, and making sure you’re doing the right things to keep these relationships going over time, there are a lot of things to think about when trying to make this happen.
So to help with the process of both identifying the specific individuals that are going to be the most helpful in your career and approaching these people to build an actual, sustainable mentor-mentee relationship that lasts, this article covers three ways to identify and build relationships with real estate industry mentors, and some things that you’ll want to avoid to be successful in this process.
Find Mentors That Have Done What You Want To Accomplish
Step #1 in the process of finding mentors is identifying the people you want to build relationships with, and the first thing I’d recommend during this process is to proactively seek out people who have done the specific things in the industry that you want to accomplish.
There are so many of different ways to become successful in commercial real estate, but each of these requires different skill sets, different personality types, and different career paths in general. And with that in mind, if you’re being mentored by someone whose industry experience is completely unrelated to the path you want to take, this probably isn’t going to result in the outcome you’re hoping for.
For example, if you know that your long-term goal is to build your own portfolio of multifamily properties and you plan to raise equity from investors to capitalize your deals, spending your time talking to retail leasing brokers or successful office developers usually isn’t going to be the most productive use of your time.
A great way to gauge this is to look at someone’s career and ask yourself, “If I ended up with a similar career outcome, would I consider that a success?” And if the answer is no, you should focus your efforts elsewhere.
This makes sure that the advice you’re getting is applicable to your unique situation, and that the conversations you’re having with your mentors can provide you with an inside look into the potential pitfalls, roadblocks, and hurdles you might come across on the specific path you’re planning to pursue.
Ask For Mentorship Informally
After you’ve identified the people you want in your corner, step #2 in this process is connecting with these individuals and building real relationships that (ideally) last over the long term. And with that, my second recommendation is to always ask for mentorship in the most informal way possible, ideally without using the word “mentor”.
If someone is successful in the real estate industry, it’s very likely that they don’t have much free time on their hands.
And when a stranger comes out of nowhere and pops the, “Will you be my mentor?” question, the default response here is almost always going to be no.
But instead of proposing to give someone an undefined, indefinite, formal mentoring obligation, in my experience, the best way to start a mentoring relationship is by asking someone for advice on only one specific decision that you currently have to make.
Being specific with your request can often increase your response rates substantially, and this also shows that you’ve already done your research and put yourself in a position to succeed on your own, rather than just throwing out a lazy, open-ended question.
This gives the person you’re reaching out to a very clear topic to weigh in on, and this can be as simple as writing an email or LinkedIn message saying that you respect and admire this person’s career path, you’re looking to follow a similar path yourself, and you would love to hear their thoughts on a few career options you’re considering.
When you frame your outreach in this way, you’ll end up getting much better answers to your questions, you’ll get more specific advice on your unique situation, and you’ll also set yourself up for future interactions with this person to follow up in a few months with an update on what you did.
Follow Through on Advice
The last recommendation in this article may be the most powerful thing you can do to build real relationships that last over the long term, and this is to actually follow through on the advice that you’re given, and then share the results of taking those actions.
This doesn’t mean to blindly follow every direction by default, but for advice that resonates with you from people you trust, this does mean putting the work in to implement these recommendations and sharing your progress once you’ve started to see results.
If you want to build a long-term relationship that can span many years throughout your career, and you also want an excuse to stay in touch over time, this is one of the best ways to make this happen and build a real mentor-mentee relationship (without ever saying those exact words).
By asking someone to formally be your mentor, you’re essentially asking for this person to lay out your entire path for you, which almost always turns people off in a really big way.
But if you reach out with a specific question and then follow up over time to share how you implemented their advice, this takes away the pressure of an indefinite, long-term agreement, and also shows this person your ability to take action to achieve a desired result.
And again, not only does this make your mentors more invested in your success, but this also allows them to see your work ethic, your level of discipline, and your commitment to your career, which can help them feel more comfortable making introductions on your behalf or recommending you for job opportunities that might come up in the future.
How To Learn More About The Networking Process
For real estate professionals, having mentors in this industry is one of the best ways to get where you want to go in the most efficient way possible. And in my experience, these are some of the most important things to keep in mind if you want to build real mentor relationships that are going to last over time.
And if you want to learn more about the networking process and want access to pre-built scripts for cold emails and LinkedIn messages to help you start these conversations, as always, make sure check out our all-in-one membership training platform, Break Into CRE Academy.
A membership to the Academy will give you instant access to over 120 hours of video training on real estate financial modeling and analysis, you’ll get access to hundreds of practice Excel interview exam questions, sample acquisition case studies, and you’ll also get access to the Break Into CRE Analyst Certification Exam. This exam covers topics like real estate pro forma and development modeling, commercial real estate lease modeling, equity waterfall modeling, and many other real estate financial analysis concepts that will help you prove to employers that you have what it takes to tackle the responsibilities of an analyst or associate at a top real estate firm.
As always, thanks so much for reading, and make sure to check out the Break Into CRE YouTube channel for more content that can help you take the next step in your real estate career.