In the right situation, under the right circumstances, playing golf could very possibly be considered work and not just for the professional golfer.
No matter the industry, personal relationships are very important and golf can be an extremely effective networking tool. There’s an old saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know,” and in its truest form, a golf course is a great place to get to know someone.
To form any relationship, even one of a business nature, takes a bit of time. Trust and communication with potential clients or partners require loyalty, which can go a long way and is an essential ingredient for any business success recipe. Emphasis is often put on first impressions but it is rare for a relationship to be established with a solid foundation with someone after just one meeting, especially a casual introduction or a chance meeting at a corporate event.
An easy way to secure an additional opportunity to get to know someone you may be interested in doing business with is to suggest a round of golf. Formal business meetings are great, but negotiations and discussions about plans for doing business are a lot easier while standing on the tee box waiting for the fairway to clear. It’s likely that your potential associate would be as happy to get out of the office as you, and once you’re on the course the discussions are typically far more relaxed.
With a couple of hours of time on the course, either with a just a nine-hole loop or a full 18-hole round, you are guaranteed plenty of time during the round to get down to business while still enjoying the time to relax. Every round of golf affords ample downtime with the opportunity for quality conversation, from the new clubs you just purchased to the latest business idea.
And the best part is, that you don’t have to be a good golfer to make a good impression on the course. The average golfer is, in fact, not very good at the game. But how you carry yourself during your play can say much more about your character than your score.
Great golfers shouldn’t let on just how good they are, so keep your stats from the launch monitor to yourself. Likewise, a terrible golfer shouldn’t make an overly big deal about their difficulties. In the business arena, confidence, self-assuredness and composure are sought after traits that people value in a business associate, and displaying these qualities on a golf course can give a playing partner an idea of who they are actually dealing with, regardless of the score on the card.
With at least a couple of hours with your group, there is no need to rush into business talk. A major advantage of using golf for your networking is the advantage of getting to know your business colleagues on a personal level first. Even if you’re wanting to pitch an idea or an important business opportunity, hold off until later in the round to keep from making your colleague feel trapped in the cart all afternoon talking shop.
So, keep in mind the end result of a trip to the course should be to have fun, even when your business colleagues are present. Be sure to strike the right balance between your networking effort and personal chatter, and mindful of the behaviors you demonstrate while golfing. The experience could lead to some of the most treasured times of your business and personal life.
Jordan Fuller is a golf coach and mentor, and the owner of golfinfluence.com, where he shares some tips on how to improve the game.