Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.
Think about your favorite teachers and classes: Why did you like them? What did you learn from them? Why did they stand out to you? My favorite teacher and class taught me about tasting different foods, and coincidentally about cows as well, by giving us cow tongue to eat and not telling us what it was prior to eating it.
Odds are, the teachers and classes you remember the most are those that created wild experiences to make you think outside of the box and challenged you to be the best you could be. It seemed crazy, and maybe it was a little bit, but to this day, I remember the lesson I was taught, and I felt supported by my teacher and classmates when venturing out of my comfort zone.
In real estate, it’s no different because let’s face it, most of the daily agenda items we check off are the items that people consider to be out of their comfort zone: cold calling, presenting, math, working on weekends and holidays, etc.
An educational must, especially as you begin in the real estate industry, is finding support through your office environment, team, colleagues and mentor.
These are the people who will be your crazy teachers and classmates, and they’ll push you to do better than you think you can as well as to hold you accountable for your business.
Consider your office environment
Your office environment is an important factor in how you’re going to feel supported. In every profession, you need to feel comfortable in your surroundings to effectively do your job, and this is especially relevant in the real estate industry; even the setup of the office needs to be evaluated.
As an independent contractor, you’re not mandated to be in the office every day, so you need to feel connected to your environment and to want to be part of it.
Decide upon how you function best:
- Are you looking for an open feeling (often called a bullpen), or do you feel better in cubicles?
- Do you want to be in full business attire (suits, heels, ties), or are you looking for more of a business casual (jeans, button-down blouse) kind of feel?
Your physical environment reflects who you are, and it reflects the people and company around you; and consequently, this affects your ability to feel comfortable enough in that space to be capable of being pushed out of your comfort zone.
Listen and learn
To piggy-back on your literal environment, the more important consideration should be given to the support given by your team within your office. When doing the uncomfortable tasks of this industry, you need to feel the support around you from agents, managers and support staff to feel motivated and capable.
Real estate agents can feel isolated at times because they are often out with their clients, working from home or other locations, and do not have typical set hours when they’re all in the office. These agents are not only your classmates but also your teachers.
Find a partner
Teaming up with your colleagues helps to motivate your business and pushes you past what you think your limits are. It also can be great to buddy-up with your colleagues so you can work with clients together.
If there are client questions you need help answering or conflicts in either of your schedules, you can divide and conquer to be able to accommodate as much business as possible. Even though you are all considered independent contractors, you’re succeeding together as a team for your brokerage, and you must support each other on that team.
Seek out a good mentor
The most important aspect of support is going to be finding a mentor; this person is going to be your craziest and most influential teacher. He or she should provide encouragement but also be a mirror to see where you need improvement.
In a fast-paced industry such as this, a mentor should provide a constant presence that you can depend upon. Know-how isn’t something that grows on trees, it takes the knowledge of those who came before you to teach you the ropes.
Typically, this would be an experienced agent at your brokerage or a manager who is available to speak to you on a regular basis. He or she will be able to provide you with their experience and lessons learned along the way as well as hold you accountable for the business you are (or are not) creating for yourself.
Establishing an individualized goal plan is paramount to your business, and your mentor should be able to advise on goals and facilitate ways to achieve them. Of course, being comfortable communicating with this individual is vital as you need to feel as though you can express your wins, losses and confusions openly to gain the support you need to succeed.
A mentor should push you beyond your own expectations but offer support along the way. As you achieve your goals, you will meet a whole host of characters who will aid in your professional development through the experiences you will have with buyers, sellers, other agents, vendors and service providers.
Furthermore, the lessons you learn from your mentor should translate to the future so you can become a leader in the real estate field and eventually become a mentor yourself.
So when you think of your favorite teacher and class, try to reflect those sentiments toward your real estate career, office environment, team, colleagues and mentor.
What made them memorable? Did they challenge you to succeed? Carefully pick and choose who your “crazy-cow-tongue-eating crew” is going to be, as they will be the ones who will teach you the necessary lessons and push you out of your comfort zone but also provide unwavering support along the way.
Gina Castrorao is a rental manager and licensed real estate agent at Real New York. Connect with her on LinkedIn.