The importance of a good mentor

Have you considered finding yourself a mentor? Here's why every broker needs one.

Director of Discovery Finance Group, Joshua Vecchio has written over $250m, using techniques and tips being shared on his website Top Broker.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton

We all know mortgage broking is quiet an autonomous role – And although there might be regular PD days and easy access to product information across the industry, there aren’t many places you can bounce ideas around and look at ways to further improve your business. A mentor can give you the benefit of their experience by offering advice on small changes that might not be apparent to you working in the business day to day.

In my own experience the difference between a mortgage broker who is getting by, and a Top Broker can often come down to mentoring – I believe great advice and learning from others life mistakes can help supercharge your business. I think a lot of established brokers don’t think they need a mentor, believe it is a waste of time or possibly don’t know where to start but as Richard Branson says, No matter how smart you are, or how brilliant or disruptive your business concept might be, every entrepreneur needs a good mentor.

Unfortunately the reality is that not everyone will have the time to be a mentor and it’s sometimes hard to choose the right mentor. It is critical to choose a great mentor that will help your business grow in the right way, which means taking the time to choose the person carefully so here are my top 6 tips on how to find the right mentor.

1. Ask the Right Person
Choosing the right person is the biggest factor that can make your mentoring adventure result in success or failure. It’s important you choose someone that personifies your own vision of success – and this doesn’t necessarily need to be in the same industry as you. For example I have a mentor who is in the IT industry who isn’t even based in Australia, but they have amazing knowledge of running multiple successful businesses and I have learned a lot from them – realistically a mentor can be anyone whose has experience and wisdom that you can learn from.

Look for someone who is in a position that you’d like to get to, think of people you personally know and could easily access. Ultimately the mentor you choose should be someone you can personally contact, meet and ideally talk face to face.

2. Asking the Right Way
Firstly don’t be afraid to ask – worst case they are going to say no and you move on, best case you pick up an amazing mentor. Approaching someone and asking them to be a mentor can be quiet challenging and confronting. Keep in mind you’re asking them for a favor that will likely take a bit of time and energy. If possible it’s best not to ask someone to be your mentor through email, you want to keep it personal. You’ll have a far better chance over the phone or meeting in person.

It is imperative to be transparent with the mentor from the start, let them know how much time and attention you think you’ll need. Explain to them what you want to get out of the mentorship and that you’re looking for advice and guidance, not a tutor. Look for common interests and experiences; keep in mind mentoring is also about building a relationship now and into the future.

3. Follow Up and keeping in touch 
When you have the initial conversation make sure you preposition how often you’ll connect and keep in touch with your mentor – but this needs to be driven entirely by the mentee. Map out when you’ll be in touch and how you’ll touch base. Whatever you agree make sure you follow up, as the mentee you need to stick with what you’ve agreed to do and meet when you’ve agreed to. Drop a line every now and then to check in if you haven’t heard from the mentor in some time, but as mentioned above this needs to be driven by the mentee as the mentor is doing you a massive favor by providing their time. Remember you want to learn as much as possible so it’s up to you to make it happen.

4. Maintain a strong relationship
Keep the relationship strong, when given advice by the mentor take it on board, and if you found it valuable in future meetings and catch ups you can let the mentor know how you have implemented their tips! Also remember that you’ll have a valuable resource that can help when the chips are down. Look to offer your mentor a hand when you have something to offer – If you’re unsure what to talk about, ask them what you should be asking. With any luck the two of you will learn a little bit from each other.

5. Try to reciprocate and thank them! 
Mentoring is a two-way street. You need to be like a sponge and absorb as much information as possible from the mentor as you can, but equally should ask them up front how you can help them. Try to find out what they want or expect in return to keep the mentoring relationships completely transparent. A few years ago I had a mentor that had an incredible offline business but had no understanding of the online space, and ways he could diversify his business into that area, so I helped provide valuable insights into what was available in that space (Google, Facebook, etc) which also benefited him. And at the end of the day, when people help you make sure you thank them for their time – this seems quite simple but is often forgotten.

6. Be creative, and don’t forget the non-traditional mentors. 
As I mentioned above, a good mentor for brokers shouldn’t be limited to the Top Brokers within our industry – look at other industries, financial advisers, accountants, marketing, construction, who knows – again it comes back to the first point in being clear what it is you want to get out of the relationship and how the mentor can help.

Equally some mentors may be able to help you without having to ever meet them! Remember there are so many books, seminars, speeches, TED Talks and videos on the internet that can provide amazing insights and ideas from the worlds smartest people. For me personally I think Richard Branson is one of my greatest mentors growing up, I loved reading his books and hearing his personal story from starting a magazine to owing a multi-billion dollar business with Virgin.

Finally Zig Ziglar a famous businessperson and writer once said the following about mentoring, a lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. So get out there and find the right mentor to help you along the path to taking your business to the next level.

This article originally appeared on Top Broker, a growing online space where tips and strategies are shared by Australia's top mortgage brokers.