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Benefits of Mentor Relationships

by Joeann Fossland, PMN

So, You Want A Mentor. Now What?

fossland_articleLong ago, Voltaire wrote, "Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?" And that's really what mentoring is all about. In Women's Council, we have the opportunity to experience mentoring at its best.

Through Women's Council, I have personally found that generosity and the desire to help others are common traits in many of the wonderful people who belong. But, the opportunity to be mentored doesn't usually happen without some action or request to make it happen.

Author Douglas Adams wrote, "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

The real estate profession attracts strong, independent people who are used to making things happen. They are not usually ones to ask for help. And yet the ones who are wise enough to open themselves to learning and understanding other ways to succeed will find that outside input greatly decreases the learning curve!

In researching people who have had mentors and those who have been mentors, I've found some common themes. A mentor can help you build confidence, open doors for you and empower you with their respect. The importance of trust and having clear expectations were also mentioned as important to both the mentor and person being mentored.

How to Find a Mentor

In a 2011 LinkedIn survey, 52 percent of female respondents said that they have never had a mentor because they haven't encountered someone appropriate. Interestingly, many of the people I spoke with said they approached the person they are mentoring, rather than the other way around. If there is someone you respect and whose values mirror your own, don't be afraid to ask.

A woman or a man? The ideal mentor is someone who intuitively understands you. That, of course, could be either gender. Sue Cartun, ABR, CRS, GRI, of Keller Williams, was mentored by a man who groomed her to take his position. She emphasizes the importance of "deep trust and a collaborative environment” for the relationship to work and "allow for learning at an accelerated pace."

Formal or informal? In my research, I found many people who have a strong network of what Valerie Garcia of RE/MAX Integra calls "a small tribe of fierce, awesome, kick-ass women.” Many of these relationships are "as needed" without a formal mentoring structure, yet still great benefits.

I greatly enjoy some Facebook private groups to which I belong that provide wisdom and support. Often, there is the opportunity to benefit from people I have never met in person but who share the desire to be truly awesome and extraordinary.

On the other hand, if what you are looking for is something more formal, prepare to discuss what format and time commitment is mutually acceptable and discuss what preparation you will each do. Decide if your meetings will be in person, on the phone or on the Internet.

Tips To Make it Work

Early in a mentor relationship, define your objectives and ask for what you want. Be realistic and discuss up front the expectations you each have. Share your ideas and requests and then work out something that works for the both of you.

If you are thinking about being a mentor, you should be able to gauge from the start if you realistically have the time today to fully invest in the relationship – and if an individual is worthy of your investment.

When you are searching for your mentor, consultant Debra Trappen says, "Be specific with the one thing you are hoping to learn and how much time you would like them to share with you each week or month. Choose [your mentor] based on that one thing and let her know that is why you want to work with her.”

Remember, you can and should have more than one mentor. Everyone has something to share, so choose wisely and with intention. Gwen Daubenmeyer of the Integrity Team says, “Ask for permission, have clear expectations and make sure they are mutual. You can't just friend someone and heap your expectations on them without their permission.”

Don’t get discouraged if you ask and someone says no. Time is a precious commodity, and the really wise, successful people make sure they have quality of life as well as productive businesses. That could even be one of the reasons you were attracted to them. Depending on their existing obligations, the time to add one more responsibility may not work for the person you choose. Understand and appreciate this, and look for someone else. Don’t take it personally or let it affect your self-worth.

Don’t limit your search to your city, profession or industry. You probably have exposure to many awesome people within your local Women’s Council chapter, but with technology today, someone in another city or state may work out beautifully. With FaceTime, Google+ or Skype, your ability to connect expands and makes it almost as personal as an in-person meeting.

You might also find the perfect mentor at a Rotary meeting or charity board. Knowing what you want will help you identify the best person.

Bring goals to your first meeting and agree on a structure. Don’t kick off your mentorship with a meandering chat. Show up with an agenda and targeted questions. Trappen says she meets with her mentees once a month for 50 minutes. “The week before we meet, they send me what they would like to discuss so I am prepared with info and connections.”

Other good advice

  • 2015 National President Sindy Ready reminds us, “Mentoring is not about age or seniority. It is about sharing and support.”
  • Pat Leach, of Keller Williams Southern Arizona, says it is important to find someone who has the same attitude and that has the time to spend with you.
  • Gwen Daubenmeyer says, "If you're doing it right, you will probably outgrow your mentor, and your mentee may outgrow you. Recognize this is healthy and doesn't have to mean the end of the relationship." Also, she advises to "have no ownership in your advice. Be perfectly okay if they don't take it every time."

Finally, give back and pay it forward. As you grow, you may find you can contribute back to your mentor or you’d like to mentor someone a few steps behind you. Speaker Karel Murray says, "As the mentoring relationship deepens, you will begin to realize you also have advice and experiences to share with your mentor. Never fail to ask, 'How can I be of service to you?' Your mentor may never ask anything of you, but they will always remember that you offered."

JoeannFosslandJoeann Fossland, GRI, PMN, has 30 years of experience in real estate as an agent, marketing expert, international speaker, trainer and personal coach. Her gift is helping people be wildly productive while living lives they love. She was recognized by a Stefan Swanepeol poll as one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Women in Real Estate." You can subscribe to her free "Tuesday Tips" and find out about personal coaching by visiting her website. Her email is joeann@joeann.com. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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