As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, November 2007.
To become an expert in your niche, you must have a thirst for knowledge. You must commit yourself to knowing everything there is to know about your particular area of mortgage origination.
If you know there is helpful information out there in a book or even in someone's head, then you must read that book -- and "get inside" that person's head. If you don't, someone else will.
This business is no different than playing the game "king of the hill": Reward or glory is associated with getting to the top of the hill. It doesn't pay to be the one who knows almost as much as the expert -- you have to be the expert.
Here are four tips to help you do so.
One traditional, standard way of getting the knowledge you need is reading. This is an ideal method to become informed because you can do it at any time, anywhere.
To get niche-specific information, you must be on the lookout for appropriate books, pamphlets, magazines or articles. They're out there -- find them and read them.
2. Attend courses
You also should complete courses and attend seminars to increase your knowledge of mortgage origination and your niche.
It might help to start with a basic real estate course. I actually require this of all my loan officers. With this, brokers can maximize their understanding of their profession in order to serve their clients better. It also helps them realize issues and concerns from real estate agents' points of view and to speak in real estate lingo.
There are many situations where a solid background in real estate can prove valuable, such as when brokers sit down with a potential borrower in a for-sale-by-owner transaction.
Shadowing is one way you can learn on the job from people who are experienced. This involves watching experts at work to get a firsthand view of how they do it.
Face-to-face, on-the-job encounters with experts not only help you acquire knowledge but also can allow you to tap into their expertise and see wisdom in action.
One idea is to use this strategy to learn about the title business. For example, I clocked in at a title company for a week -- looking over employees' shoulders, asking questions and observing -- and I believe it has made me a better loan officer. It's all about educating yourself and becoming an expert.
4. Find a mentor
Establishing a relationship with a mentor or coach is another way to acquire expertise. These relationships are generally more involved than shadowing, and they can go on for an extended time.
It's best to start this relationship by sitting down with the person and getting to know each other.
Many people in our business are happy to give their time to help younger colleagues learn the ropes. The key here is to choose a mentor who represents the achievement of your goals. If your goal is to do $2 million worth of business each month, find someone who has done so.
Be careful that mentorship isn't a terrible drain on the person. It should be pleasant for both of you.
Brad Cooper is a nationally recognized mortgage expert and coach for Loan Officer Success. He has helped thousands of families while compiling more than 15 years of mortgage experience. His blend of customer care, financial expertise and experience is the driving force behind his great success. Cooper is excited to share his years of experience and passion with other loan officers to help them reach their maximum potential in everyday business and life.