As a rookie financial advisor, the fastest way to accelerate your practice is to learn from entrepreneurs who are already five steps ahead of you, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.

Advice from a senior professional can be invaluable in helping you to avoid common setbacks. By learning from the experience of others, you can find out about the entrepreneurial tactics that have succeeded, the ones that have failed and those that have required tweaking, Gilbert adds.

Getting the help you need isn’t always easy, however. Here are four tips to help you find sources of advice that brings results:

1. Be specific:
When seeking career advice, rookies often neglect to narrow down the exact kind of help they need, Gilbert says. For example, rookies will typically say they want to grow their business. But that doesn’t give a mentor much information to work with.

If your goal is to grow your business, Gilbert says, your first step in seeking advice should be to determine which aspect of your business is hindering your growth. That hindrance might be your marketing strategy or your ability to manage a team. Then, you can seek advice on improving that aspect of your practice.

“Rookies won’t get the results they want,” Gilbert says, “if they don’t ask the right questions.”

2. Be transparent
When approaching an advisor for mentorship or guidance, Gilbert says, be up-front about the type of communication you’re hoping to receive. For example, let the potential mentor know whether you’re hoping for a long-term mentorship or a one-time opportunity to “pick their brain.”

Transparency will also let you know whether your intentions are realistic, Gilbert says. If you’re clear about your expectations, your mentor will let you know whether he or she can meet them.

3. Bring value to the table
Explain what you can offer in a mentoring relationship, so that the dialogue doesn’t go only one way, Gilbert says. Senior professionals will be more inclined to talk if it’s a “win/win relationship.”

In exchange for guidance from an older advisor, you might offer some consultation on his or her digital marketing efforts, if you are well versed in social media. Or you might offer advice on communicating with millennials.

4. Look outside your “back yard”
Sometimes, valuable advice can come from sources outside of your field. If you want to learn how to write more compelling blog posts, for example, you might start reading the most successful blogs from other industries.

Regarding the growth of your business, Gilbert adds, there are many entrepreneurial success stories that provide valuable lessons. Business owners who work beyond the financial services sector often share innovative strategies that can be applied to a financial advisory practice.

This is the first part in a two-part series on seeking advice.

Next: How to start a best-practices exchange group.