Business golf is really about getting to know the people you are playing with more closely. You are interested in building a relationship with them. It’s not about competition, or boring them with a 6-hour sales pitch.
There are five simple steps to playing a round of Business Golf. You’ll have a better chance of succeeding in building a business relationship if you follow these steps. Read on! And enjoy your success.
First, the Invitation. While the invitation is primary, think about the location first. Keep in mind this is a business affair so a successful and professional first impression is very important.
This may be the first time you’ve gotten the group together, so take the time to consider the quality of the facility. The venue should be more upscale if possible and close to each player’s skill level. Private country clubs usually fit the bill well for a round of business golf since the golf course is generally not as busy and after golf accommodations are usually very nice.
Once the location is secured, your invitation follows. If you expect business to be discussed, make sure your invitation isn’t casual. An off-hand remark to play golf sets the expectation for playing a casual round together. However, an informal invitation takes on new meaning when it is followed by a written invitation. You should even consider sending a card by mail, instead of email. Once received, the message is clearly understood – this is business outing and more serious than golfing with friends or colleagues. You can follow-up that card with an email and ask for an RSVP by email, but go the extra distance by sending out a card through the mail for the invitation.
What do you say in the note? The content of the note should offer thanks for the opportunity to connect professionally. It should express gratitude for the interest in playing golf and include the date, time and location. Be sure to provide RSVP information. Close the note by asking the invitee if they would include enough time in their schedule for an after round talk. This clearly sends the signal that there won’t be a 6 hours sales pitch but rather a casual chat after the event. Once the invitation has been accepted, prepare for the next step.
Second, the Greeting. Avoid the last minute arrival. Instead, get to the golf course at least an hour before tee time so you can take care of the preparations. These include:
- Is the tee time still on schedule?
- Is there a semi-private place in the grill for after the round of golf.
- Are there any concerns about the golf course to consider?
- If the course is new to you, learn more about its amenities and where they are located.
When your guest(s) arrive, make them feel comfortable. Greet them positively and set expectations for a good day of golf. As your start the day, discuss how the golf game will be played. Make it a conversation with your guests. Be sure to affirm there will be no business talk during the game. Tell them that you would like the round to be relaxing. You and your guests are there to have fun and enjoy golf. Be sure to take care of any problems back at the office before your round begins.
Third, the Round of Golf. How you are going to treat this round of golf is a good conversation starter. If you are not with serious golfers, you could be there to just enjoy the game. If, on the other hand, your guests are serious golfers, ask them how they would like to play. Reach an understanding before you tee off.
If everyone agrees, a little competition during the round is fine. Or you might just be golfers who hack around the course that day. What is important is each player is given an opportunity to say how they want to play the round. Mandating seriousness to someone who is not interested in playing golf seriously makes for an uncomfortable round of golf.
Take clues from the discussions on how the game will be played. The traits displayed are often the same traits exhibited in business areas as well. Once the round starts it is time to learn and listen. You can each learn from each other while playing the game. Often the true personality is revealed when a person is relaxing. Take note. Having Fun should be the goal for the round. Being humorous and witty are great traits if they are normal and will balance out a bad round of golf. Be yourself.
Betting or placing wagers on the round is natural for any sport or game. Golf included. However, gambling on anything outside of who buys the drinks after the round is not advisable in a round of business golf.
It’s also advised that you should hold on any alcoholic beverages until after the round. At the conclusion of the round, you should make every effort to that your guests. Offer a period of time immediately after the round to take a break from each other. Everyone can have the opportunity to check into the office before meeting up in the designated area after golf discussions.
Fourth, After Golf. After the round of golf there usually is a period of time where the scores are added and stories are told. The same goes for a round of business golf however, the conclusion of the day deals with a light business discussion.
The discussion is where questions are asked and answers are given. Sometimes your experience during the golf game will determine whether or not you want to do business with your guests. A good game can be the beginning of a solid business relationship.
The “After Golf” conversation should be low key but directed to learning how you can help your golf partner improve his business. Your guest should have some expectations that there will be a business discussion but it’s not for signing a contract or making a hard sale. Conclude the day on a pleasant tone. The positive experience on the golf course will be the impression that is remembered.
And Lastly, the Follow-Up. The Follow-Up is the goal and the end result of business golf. Once a successful round of business golf is played the relationship can now open doors to business. It’s more likely now that you will get responses to phone calls and emails. This business association should continue developing over time. Your reward for a round of golf will most likely be a follow-up office visit, where more direct business talks can occur.
Know what it means to play business golf and understand the investment you are making. Follow the five simple steps for the best likelihood of success.
Scot Duke is author of the ebook How to Play Business Golf and CEO of Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC, a consulting company specializing in operations management and the use of effective social media practices. He is located in Addison, Texas. Mr. Duke can be contacted via email at email@example.com. More info can also be found on his blog at www.scotduke.com