The word ‘mentor’ comes from Greek mythology. According to Wikipedia its origin is quite long-winded, but suffice to say that it has led to its adoption in the English language as a term meaning a teacher.
BY VANESSA DE GROOT
I recently interviewed someone who believes that all property investors must have a mentor. Someone who is experienced in the property investing world, so they can help you, as their… apprentice, if you like… become just as successful at investing.
If you have a mentor, you can ask them all the hairy questions and get honest answers from someone you trust. You can also avoid the mistakes they’ve made by learning from their past experiences.
If you’re starting out with property investing it’s definitely handy to have someone to talk to. There’s lots of information out there including books, magazines and seminars, but it can also help to chat to like-minded people to get their thoughts and ideas, and find out exactly what they’ve done in a similar situation.
It’s important to note that a mentor is different from an idol, which is a person who is revered or admired. While you might admire your mentor and what they’ve achieved, you need to look at them as more of a teacher, who can help you achieve your goals.
There are a lot of naysayers out there and while there are many property investors doing their thing, there are many more who will try to discourage people from investing in property, using their fears about any number of things – interest rates, the possibility of prices falling etc. – to dissuade people who do want to invest from doing so.
That’s why, if you’re an investor, it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals and have a mentor, who can guide you along the way and continue to encourage you.
Having a mentor won’t be the be-all and end-all; chances are you’ll still make mistakes, but it might prevent you from making major mistakes.
Now, what kind of mentor should you have – should it be someone who’s well-known and somewhat of an ‘expert’ or should it just be someone who is an experienced property investor, but not an ‘authority’ on the subject?
It’s really up to you I guess – it will be different for everyone. You might just come across someone and establish a rapport with them and it builds from there.
What about payment? Should you be paying a mentor? I’d be reluctant to pay someone who is merely mentoring you. If you seek the advice of a professional then you’ll be expected to pay, but a mentoring relationship is really quite different; they’re not offering you their expertise for a financial reward, they’re merely helping you, teaching you and encouraging you.
And who pops the question when it comes down to it? I think you need to build a relationship first
and then someone makes the move and pops the question. Does it actually need to be an official mentoring relationship, where it’s labelled as such? Or can you just have it unsaid? I think it could go either way.
I’ve never had a mentor myself, but I really think it would be valuable. I have people that I can go to and seek advice from but no one actually teaching me as such and guiding me through, encouraging me to invest and be successful.
Consider these tips for finding a property mentor:
- Look at those close to you – have any of your family or friends invested in property? Do they have knowledge they can offer you? Can they guide you in the right direction?
- Be prepared to consider anyone – don’t have a set idea of who your mentor should be. You might just stumble upon them. They can come in all different shapes and sizes – male, female, young, old, middle-aged – and they might live either close by or at a distance, in which case you can communicate via email or phone. It could be a stranger – you might find someone at a property or business seminar who’s into property and might be able to help you out. It’s probably not a good idea to mention that you want a mentor straight off the bat though; develop a rapport first.
- Ask around – tell everyone you’re looking for a mentor and one might just come your way!
- Be upfront – when you ask someone to be a mentor, make sure you spell out upfront exactly what you’re after – what your goals are and what your expectations are of them – so there’s no confusion from the outset.
What do you think about having a mentor. Is it important? Have you had any good or bad experiences with mentors?
Vanessa De Groot is the deputy editor of Australian Property Investor magazine, www.apimagazine.com.au