There’s only one way to ask for a mentor…DON’T.

Oops.  Maybe that seems a little harsh?  You may be thinking “but I need a mentor, so what’s the problem with asking?”

When you ask for a mentor in a general forum or a real estate club meeting, you are asking for a relationship with someone who doesn’t know you.  There’s been zero effort on your part to actually build trust, credibility and bring value.

How would you respond if you were a busy investor?

So what can you do?  Is there a better way?

Yes.

Stop thinking of you.  Think about them.

Some ideas for getting started include….

Which Niche?

Most investors are not “jacks of all trades”.  You’ll need to decide which niche you want to be in so that you can work on building relationships with people in that niche.  If you haven’t decided this yet, check out the BiggerPockets Podcasts and forums to get ideas on options that you find interesting and work for your situation.

What problems?

How do you go about finding who is in your chosen focus area in your local market?  This requires some basic research and participation in local meetings.  Here’s the approach I’d recommend:

Attend as many local real estate investor meetings as you can.  You can find listings on both BiggerPockets and Meetup to start.  What should you do when you attend the meetings?  My suggestion is to approach the meeting with a mindset of how you can be of service to the other attendees.  Find out what business are they in.  How are they looking to grow?  What challenges are they facing right now?

You can also find answers online by leveraging the BP search tools to find other investors in your area.  Which of these investors are in your niche?  From there, how many are active on BP?  What kinds of questions are they posting?  What comments are they making on other posts or blogs?

Armed with this knowledge, the next step is…

How can you help?

You now have a better idea of the common challenges other investors are having.  Most of the time, this is going to come down to finding deals or getting funding.  Figure out how to solve these challenges and you’ll be providing value.

Let me give you a couple of examples…

I recently went to a meetup and mentioned that my husband and I are looking to buy another hotel.  About a week later, one of the attendees sent me a follow-up note along with a link to a notification he saw on a couple of off-market hotels for sale.  This is a small gesture that provided value to me.  How much more likely is it that I’d help him in the future if he asks?

Another way to provide value is to help with funding.  We are currently investing with someone who does fix & flips.  This is a niche we are working to understand and are complete newbies.  Our role is to pay for the rehab costs in exchange for learning about the process.  When the property sells, our share of the profits is very small – as it should be.  We aren’t doing the day to day work of finding the property, determining costs, managing the project and marketing the property.  We provide value to the fix & flip investor so that he can grow his business.  In the meantime, we have an excellent opportunity to learn.

Whose job is it to maintain the relationship?

Finally, after you have established a connection – continue the conversation!  When you come across an article that could be interesting to that person, send it his or her way.  If you see an opportunity that fits that investor’s niche, share it with them.  Stay interested in their success and engaged in building a long-term relationship.

Can you see now how asking for a mentor without taking some of these steps is unlikely to get the results you want?

What do you think you’ll learn from meeting people and asking about their business?

What do you think your chances are of building real relationships will be?