The phrase, “business gets done on the golf course” is true; from the fairways to the 18th green there are plenty of opportunities to close a deal. However, new opportunities can be lost just as quickly as they came if not handled properly. It’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to seal the deal just as you would in the boardroom.
Sound intimidating? It shouldn’t! Making deals on the green creates evergreen connections that will stand the test of time. To avoid losing out on business opportunities and potentially wasting a round of golf, here are some tips for nailing it.1. Arrive Early
Regardless of how prepared you are for business conversations and potential pitches, if you’re late, that could set the whole thing off on the wrong foot. Being on time might as well be considered late in this situation because arriving early will allow you to find your playing partners, put your clubs on the golf cart and collect yourself. Your promptness to the course sets a precedent for how you will treat the business relationship, and being late is an unacceptable way to kick that relationship off.2. Pay for the Round
Continuing with the theme of respecting your potential client’s time and company, paying for the round is another way to show that you mean business. The client is your guest and this is one of the best ways to show that. If they insist on paying, you don’t want to reject them but let them buy a round of drinks after the round. Let them know up front how much you value the relationship and the time you’re spending with them.
3. Be Patient
Be patient with the business discussion. The first tee isn’t the best spot for talking about the bottom line. Get the golf going for a bit first and find out what you need to know about your client as a golfer. Then, when you're mid-round and they're loosened up, comfortable, and most importantly, enjoying themselves, it may be acceptable to start talking business. However, the last thing you want to do is force business talk, go with the flow of the game and let your driver drive the conversation.
4. Play Your Game
Play your game but also gauge the intensity level of your playing partner. If the client is trying to size you up by playing a match, give them your best. Ultimately, they will respect that you give them exactly the same in a business partnership.
5. Be a Generous Playing Partner
Along with gauging your client’s intensity level, it’s important to gauge the intensity level of overall play of the round. Try offering “mulligans” and give plenty of gimmes (from a reasonable distance) on the greens. This can let loose some steam on the intensity of the round and remind all parties that a potential business relationship is more important than golf.
6. Play Ready Golf
Play ready golf and keep things moving. The proper pace of play will make the afternoon of golf fun and not feel like a six-hour business meeting. Let your client take their time, but make up for it by picking up your pace. Yet another way to keep tabs on the day and keep things moving in a positive direction.
7. Refrain from Drinking
You want your wits about you when you are trying to impress your potential business partner. If they insist on drinking, you may want to join in so as not to turn them off, but it should be at a minimum. You want to stay in control because drinking too much is the fastest way to forget all the other etiquette tips you should be employing.
8. Keep Your Emotions Intact
Golfing with your buddies is much different than golfing with a potential business partner. It’s important to keep your emotions intact. Swearing after a missed putt or throwing a club further than your drive won’t help you expand your client list. A cool head on the course, particularly amidst adversity, can demonstrate your ability to do the same in a business relationship.
9. Play for the 20th Hole
Finally, the round ends, but you’re hoping the business relationship doesn’t. Don’t feel pressured to finalize business deals as you walk off the 18th green. As Bill Storer, president of Business Golf Strategies, says in Golf Magazine, “Play for the 20th hole.” A post-round follow-up note or thank you letter will put you right back in front of the customer.
Feeling more prepared for your next business meeting on the green? We sure hope so! Etiquette is important for keeping a business deal from going south quickly, but remember, the round of golf is meant to be the foundation starter of a professional relationship and a snapshot of what your potential client can expect from you. So, be yourself but with these tips in mind.
Photo Courtesy CityVisions.