Everyone knows that successful business relationships are not simply developed in the meeting room. More often than not, they are nurtured through less formal situations such as in the pub, social events or increasingly, on the golf course. If you’re thinking of networking on the golf course or if you’ve been invited to a golfing event, then read on for our top tips.
Golf Spectating or A Round On The Fairways?
When considering a golf networking event, there are two main options to consider:
– Watching a golf tournament
– Playing a round of golf
If the people you want to attend the event are beginners, or don’t regularly play golf, then going to a tournament together may well be the best option. Every year, there are many pro-am tournaments throughout the UK, which can be a great introduction to golf for the uninitiated.
Alternatively, if you are organising a round of golf and know you have a non-golf player coming, it might be an idea to keep the competition level fairly low – if that’s possible.
Etiquette Is Paramount
Whether you play golf or not, following the right golfing etiquette for the specific club or course that you play is paramount. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules and club code of conduct as they can and do vary. If a beginner, make sure everyone knows that you’re not exactly Jason Day. Playing with honesty and with integrity is an important part of the game. It’s not about your final score or winning – it’s about having a good time and building up a solid rapport with your guests.
When Should You Talk Business?
When it comes to talking business, be patient; the golf course is not the place for the hard sell. Keep the conversation light and establish common ground early on. Focus on your fellow players and take an interest in them. Making a good first impression can go a very long way.
Networking expert, George Souri, told Forbes: “Use your time on the course to develop the relationship, not to sell a deal. Being overly eager to ‘talk shop’ will most likely annoy your partner, or worse, affect their focus and game. A day of bad play is not going to help your chances at closing a deal.”
Pace Of Play
Keep the pace of play adjusted to your fellow participants’ experience level. You don’t want to go too quickly, leaving beginners behind, nor do you want to go too slowly and hold up the group. It’s not a great look to be the one slowing the group down! It’s okay if you are not a very good golfer, but make sure you bring some spare balls with you, just in case.
The 19th Hole
Once the game is finished and you are about to sink the 19th hole (a pint in the clubhouse), it’s crucial you remain in control of your actions and take it easy on the alcohol. It might be an idea to alternate between alcoholic beverage and water – especially if the weather is warm. When it comes to drinking, your policy should be ‘follow the leader.’ If your client refuses an alcoholic drink, you should too.
The 19th hole, a.k.a. the post-round meal is usually the best place for more formal discussions to take place, and it’s always courteous to follow up with a thank-you letter, which also helps to keep the conversation and relationship going.
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