With the spring golf season upon us, opportunities to use golf in the workplace are also fast approaching. Business golf, although similar to a round with friends, has a few key differences. The intent is to establish these differences and ultimately enable you to land the job, close the deal, or build the foundations of a positive business relationship.
Now, I don’t believe that creating a rulebook to follow on the course would be effective because each time out is a little different. Instead, I’ve decided to talk about one of my own successful rounds of business golf while providing a few ideas that helped me.
It is important to have a plan and do your homework before hitting the links. In my particular case, I was going to the course just to pick up a friend from a golf outing. However, I knew that there would be potential networking opportunities, so I threw my clubs in the trunk just in case. When I arrived at the course, I was lucky enough to be able to strike up a conversation with a few people going out for another nine holes. They had an extra spot in the foursome and I was invited to play. I had done my homework on one gentleman in the group for a few reasons. He was hosting the outing, I had previously met him, and I was very interested in his line of work. I now had a two-hour informal meeting to learn and network.
How you act on the golf course can be a very solid indicator of what someone will expect from you in a work environment. If you’re out there trying to hit through trees or attempting to carry the ball over a pond 250 yards away with a driver out of the fairway, you give off the impression that you’re content making some dumb decisions that can actually be annoying and harmful to a business. With that being said, playing a safe punch shot and setting yourself up for a chance to salvage the hole also says a lot.
In my particular case, I was playing a great round of golf and never had to make a decision about whether to play safe or take a bad risk. As impressive as my score was, it was important that I didn’t get too excited or too down if things were to change. I was toeing a delicate line, symbolic of business. Closing a deal and making a birdie are very similar things. It’s acceptable to be a little excited, but you also need to be humble, act like you’ve been there before, and plan on being there again.
This meeting needs to be treated like an interview. It is essential that you talk and are likeable. I was eager to learn about the business that my golf partner was in, but I didn’t want to appear too needy or overeager. This is where golf can be your most important ally. You’ve been given the chance to never have a lull in the conversation. You can always talk about how nice the course is, which way the putt is going to break, or provide a distance to the pin. In doing so, I was able to keep a conversation going and eventually got into talking about the line of work my playing partner was in and how I could get involved myself.
Etiquette should go without saying. I was courteous the entire nine, but also didn’t want to appear uncomfortably shy. A good round can be ruined as quickly as a club can be snapped on a tree trunk. End your round with a handshake. This was an interview and a meeting almost more than it was a sport. Shake hands and thank the person for their time. I was blessed with the chance to even play in that foursome, and I was more than happy to let my group know.
The bonus part of all this is to analyze the situation as you’re walking or riding to the last green. If things went well, drinks at the course clubhouse or bar, can close the deal. I was invited into the clubhouse for dinner and I attribute this to my performance as a professional on the course much more than my golfing abilities.
Now you have all the guidelines and tips to network on the green. Thank you for your time and good luck on the course.
- Alex Rosenau, Marketing Analyst
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