Connecting and Conversing in the “Green” Room
Many women will be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions for their career. This may include moving into an advanced role and who can help them at their organization. A first step might include preparing for conversations about raises, scope of work and areas of improvement.
One underleveraged approach for women to consider is golf, not competitive golf, but a more casual business golf. It is one of the great equalizers in networking and relationship building and has a unique role to play. Yet, not all women actively seek learning how to play golf. It can be intimidating. Women on Course seeks to disrupt this idea as the national gateway to the game and the art of informal networking. When people are on the course, they tend to be more relaxed in this unique safe zone away from office distractions. As you consider trying something new in 2021, there are several interesting insights we want to share at the intersection of women, mentorship, and golf.
Find Common Ground. One of the challenges women face is finding common ground – a neutral zone for difficult conversations and building genuine connections. “Green is the new white” and the golf course is a key place where informal networking and relationship building occurs. In a Forbes article, 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf and 80% say playing golf enables them to establish new business relationships. One of the critical things for women (and men) to remember is to prepare and be present. Give yourself time to show up, be relaxed, and leave everything else off the course. Your character is on display.
Seek Informal Networking Opportunities. Men create and find informal ways to deliver feedback, network, and connect. In a Catalyst study, 46% of women surveyed named “exclusion from informal networks” as the main factor holding them back in their career, with golf being the leading informal network from which women felt excluded. Bonus – business leaders who play golf earn 17% more revenue. On the golf course or at the 19th hole (the clubhouse), you have a relaxed space and focused time to listen and learn from other players. Do not feel rushed, take the time to ask questions through authentic curiosity.
Ask for Feedback – Always. Many people find feedback to be painful and frustrating. Instead of seeing the glass half-empty, see it as half-full. Tina Fox, CEO of Women on Course, calls this “momentary mentorship.” Asking for feedback from your boss, peers, direct reports, or other business leaders can happen in many different casual moments, like on the golf course, versus formal business settings, where one may overthink things and make them more high-pressure than they need to be. Being open to feedback early and often may result in easier transitions when it comes to improving your overall professional and personal game.
Be Calm. Find & Use Your Voice Consistently. When it comes to golf, women (and men) need to clear their head and tame the brain before teeing off. Mentally preparing for the game, looking ahead and visualizing the shot helps keep things in focus. Just like when considering what may seem to be a difficult conversation, it is important to stay calm and not lose your cool, get in the right mindset. The more women practice using their voice the less we feel we “have to shout” to be heard. For example, if we practice giving feedback, speaking up, coaching others, mentoring – a little bit every day – the likelihood of being heard, as well as, gaining and giving insight increases.
Rethinking Mentorship. Many times, people overthink mentorship. The relationship does not have to be formal, however, it needs to be clear. Identify your goals and what your mentor might be looking for as well. If you are asking for a mentor, be prepared to communicate what you need help with specifically and what you need from your mentor. Time is the easiest thing for someone to offer and yet it is the thing we have the least of; be professional and be prepared. Your mentor is not there to answer everything, they are there to help you think about the big picture. Mentors can listen and give you feedback based on their experience. You, the mentee, still have to decide where and how to take action. January is National Mentoring Month – consider asking a colleague to be your mentor and start on the golf course.
Be Self-Aware. Much like life, it is important to know where you are and what your role is in that moment. In golf, that means knowing when to speak, when not to speak, where you are standing, how to not cast shadows, and how and when to help (just to name a few). Timing is everything, know when you are on the course just to relax and when it is appropriate to tee up conversation.
Although we share a lot of insights, remember, golf can help create the foundation for strong relationships. Golf is about getting to know, like, and trust the character of the people you play with on the course. You don’t have to be good at golf to benefit from the game. You just have to know proper etiquette and pace of play – isn’t this true in life? We have to be self-aware, read the signals from others, and have the right timing. Try something new in 2021, seek out informal ways to build relationships on and off the golf course. Women on Course is launching a mentorship program January 2021. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested or visit us at www.womenoncourse.com to see how we may be a great fit for your new adventure into golf and the informal art of networking.
Co-Authored: Tina Fox, CEO of Women on Course and Jen Dalton, Founder of BrandMirror, Author of Listen: How to Embrace the Difficult Conversations Life Throws at You.