Five rookie agents reveal the most valuable lessons and advice they received from their real estate mentors.
Smiling businesswoman in office

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For new recruits just starting out, learning to build a network, prospect, develop a brand, and manage a large volume of paperwork can be daunting. Sometimes, it helps for rookie agents to have a seasoned ally to guide them. For many, the broker-in-charge can provide the best support.

Learn what five agents have to say about how their brokers, team leaders, and mentors helped shape their career success and how you can do the same for your agents.

Jennifer Switz

Agent: Jennifer Switz, SRES, GRI
Brokerage: Better Homes and Gardens Move Time Realty, Phoenix
Length of time in business: 3 years
Mentor: Susan Paul
Top Trick: Play off your strengths

At the beginning of her career, Jennifer Switz was flailing and didn’t know how to focus her business. She reached out and asked her designated broker, Susan Paul, to be her mentor. Paul stepped in and helped Switz determine what her strengths are and where she needed more education and training. They also sat down together and determined where the bulk of Switz’s business was coming from. “I realized most of my business was from referrals,” Switz says. Paul helped her maximize the use of her network, and they determined that Instagram—Switz’s preferred social media platform—was a great marketing avenue for her. “Now I’m focusing on what I’m good at, and it’s made a huge difference,” she adds.

Paul, she says, “is available all the time, leads by example, and pushes me out of my comfort zone.” Now the pair meet every six to eight weeks, and if Paul doesn’t hear from Switz for a while, she’ll call her to see how she’s doing. Switz says she lucked out and found a great brokerage—and mentor—on the first try.

Jessica Tijerina

Agent: Jessica Tijerina
Brokerage: Future Home Realty, Tampa, Fla.
Length of time in business: 4 years
Mentor: Bob McDugald
Top Trick: Mindset dictates success

Jessica Tijerina was in the business for two years before joining Future Home Realty, a brokerage with offices across Florida. She knew she was joining a large and successful team. Her broker, Bob McDugald, holds education seminars called “100K Sessions,” and she made it a point to attend. “The hardest part of real estate, in my case, was finding clients,” says Tijerina. “I was able to apply what he taught directly to my business.”

One of the most instrumental tips Tijerina learned was that mindset is everything. When working in real estate, you’ll make mistakes and deal with difficult clients. There will be fires to put out. How you handle these issues will directly affect your success, says Tijerina. “Bob refers to this proverb all the time: ‘Where there are no oxen, the stable is clean.’ Basically, he says that if the stable is clean, there’s a problem,” she says. “Having difficulties or juggling a lot of responsibilities means you have business. It might be messy, but [it means] business is good—and that’s something to be grateful for.”

Madison Kazes

Agent: Madison Kazes
Brokerage: Coco, Early & Associates, Methuen, Mass.
Length of time in business: 7 years
Mentor: Katherine Early
Top Trick: Make the business personal

When Madison Kazes started out in real estate, the brokerage she was with didn’t offer much in the way of mentorship. Later, she was recruited to Coco, Early & Associates, where mentorship was an important part of the brokerage’s culture. “Meeting [broker-owner] Linda Early was probably the best thing that could have happened to me,” Kazes says.

Once signed on, Kazes was paired with Kathryn Early—team lead at Coco, Early and Associates and Linda Early’s daughter-in-law—as a mentor. “She let me see everything she did and let me be a part of her business,” says Kazes. Early helped Kazes see that real estate is a personal business rather than strictly transactional. “She told me that real estate isn’t a sales industry; it’s a service industry. Every day I need to give the best service to my clients,” she says. The homebuying process is an emotional experience, Kazes adds, and being of service to her clients has become her business mantra thanks to Early’s guidance.

Rae Dolan

Agent: Rae Dolan
Brokerage: Champion Real Estate (Katy Home Team), Katy, Texas
Length of time in business: 6 months
Mentor: Linse Meadows
Top Trick: Automation

With just six months in the business, Rae Dolan has already closed several sales, which she largely attributes to her team leader, Linse Meadows. At one point, Dolan was Meadows’ client, purchasing several investment properties in the Katy area. “One day, I called Linse up, and instead of asking about buying another property, I told her I was interested in getting my license,” Dolan says.

Meadows walked Dolan through the process from start to finish. Once Dolan was licensed, Meadows reached out to her broker to get approval to add Dolan to her team. Dolan was taken aback by Meadows’ willingness to share resources, knowledge, and advice. “She’s my sounding board for everything, from negotiations to dealing with tough clients.” One piece of advice sticks out most to Dolan, though: You have to spend money to make money. In the world of real estate, automating the mundane tasks can make a huge difference. “Linse has a virtual assistant that helps with the paperwork, and she uses other resources, too. She gave me access to all the resources she uses.” Those resources include stagers, interior decorators for the more high-end homes, and the virtual assistant who helps draft listing agreements, contracts, and complete other necessary paperwork. Dolan says she’s using these services to automate some aspects of her business like filling out paperwork and scheduling showings through Centralized Showing Service. Through the automation of these tasks, Dolan has the opportunity to focus more on marketing and selling.

Tommy Choi

Agent: Tommy Choi
Brokerage: Keller Williams Chicago, Lincoln Park, Chicago
Length of time in business: 11 years
Mentor: Millie Rosenbloom
Top Trick: Get involved in your local association

In 2006, Tommy Choi and a business partner decided to leave corporate America and open a brokerage. Without the help of an established broker, Choi struggled in the beginning. “In that first year, I made $28,000, and I really had to come to terms with what it meant to fail,” he says. “In the corporate world, I was ‘successful’ on paper. I made good money, had a nice condo, and a great girlfriend.”

Determined to succeed at real estate, Choi joined the Chicago Association of REALTORS®️. Not long after, he received a copy of the association’s magazine, which happened to feature the area’s top sellers. He decided to call the winners—all 25 of them—and ask them for 15 to 30 minutes of their time over a cup of coffee or lunch. One agent, Millie Rosenbloom, agreed to meet with him. “She told me to get involved with CAR, so I did.” When he called CAR to inquire about getting involved, Choi was directed to an event with the area’s Young Professionals Network. “I felt like I’d found exactly what I was looking for,” Choi says. Through the group, he developed a network of colleagues to bounce ideas off of, ask questions, and approach with difficult real estate situations. “We raise the bar together. We reach back and bring up new agents. The best thing I ever did was get involved with my local association,” Choi explains.

When properly mentored and provided the resources they need, newer agents will add incredible value to any brokerage. And as a broker, providing the resources and advice is a great way to give back to the industry.