Building and maintaining solid business relationships is the key to success, but how can you legitimately escape the tense office environment and spend dedicated time getting to know a customer, client or boss on a personal level?
Business Golf, once the domain of the executive elite is now accessible for anyone wishing to create and strengthen business relationships in a relaxed atmosphere. In fact, according to a 2002 COMPAS Leader Poll, “business leaders use golf as an important tool in doing business and say that it is extremely remunerative; for each dollar they spend on golf they earn over $1500 in business revenue as a result. Further, only restaurants surpass the golf course as an effective place to conduct business outside of the office. ”
The strong demand for golf has resulted in several new courses being opened every year thereby reducing membership costs. Corporate and charity tournaments also represent a tremendous networking opportunity where organizational hierarchy may be temporarily eliminated and a common ground created for building rapport.
An important benefit of golf is that it provides a unique window into the personality, values and conduct of others. This could prove to be very useful in future business dealings as one’s behavior on the course is a reflection of their business character and ethics. For example, a golfing partner who cheats on every hole might be someone to be careful with when making deals. It must be realized, however that this window is made of two way glass. Take advantage of this opportunity to project a positive image of yourself by demonstrating proper Business Golf Etiquette.
Follow these Business Golf Etiquette Tips to a tee and not only will you and your partner enjoy the day, you will also stand out as being polished, professional and trustworthy.
Be prepared. Arrive early to get organized and to practice. Plan ahead and identify the outcomes you want from the day. These goals are just as important as any other business meeting. Prepare sound bites for your company or yourself that you can draw on if needed.
Don’t be green about the greens
Never attend a golf event for business purposes if you don’t first make the effort to learn the basic game and the lingo. You’ll only embarrass and alienate yourself and your company. Take lessons or attend a clinic.
- Inquire about any time constraints before choosing a venue. Proximity may be more important than beauty of a course.
- When choosing foursomes, carefully consider the skill levels, compatibility and networking opportunities for the players.
- Pay for your guests ahead of time. Make sure everything is arranged for your guest such as lockers and meal reservations.
- Confirm the tee-off time.
- Send confirmation to guest with directions and contact information for the course.
- Be the cart driver.
- Focus on your guest, not on improving your game.
- Play the same tee as your guest.
- Invite your guest to play first at the first hole.
The links is not the place for you to get in touch with your inner child. No tantrums, throwing of clubs, foot stamping, swearing, whining, making excuses or indulging in other demonstrations of poor sportsmanship. Conversely, when you are playing well, be gracious. Don’t interpret the relaxed environment as an opportunity to behave in a manner unsuitable for the office, such as making jokes, gestures or remarks that may be considered by others as offensive.
Business or birdie
There is a time and place for everything. Spend the day building rapport and developing relationships. Only talk business if your guest brings it up first. Otherwise, save it for the 19th hole.
You Got Game
Don’t compromise your credibility by playing badly unless, of course, you are an Oscar winning actor. Don’t gloat when you are playing well, instead, turn it into a compliment, “You must be bringing me luck, this is my best game this year!” Sincerely compliment specific aspects of your partner’s game. Never coach or give unsolicited advice. If you are a beginner, warn your partner about your skill level and make sure they are o. k. with it.
Be an Etiquette Eagle
- No cell phones / pagers/ PDA’s.
- Always be ready for the next shot – don’t make others wait unnecessarily.
- Never brag or complain about the cost of membership or green fees.
- Take care of the course, remove your tees, replace kicked-up turf and rake after a bunker shot.
- Don’t walk into or cast shadows over someone’s putting line.
- Maintain a safe golf cart speed.
- Get out of the cart whenever your opponent does.
- Dress appropriately. If in doubt, call the club.
- No cheating or creative scorekeeping.
- Don’t distract other golfers by loud talking, laughing, and crinkling food wrappers.
Don’t let your manners be your handicap. Ace this opportunity to make a good impression and create shared memories that will enhance your business relationships and increase your bottom line.
Aviva Shiff is the co-founder of Spark Training and Coaching Associates. Spark Training and Coaching Associates http://spartktac.com/ helps individuals amplify their personal impact, influence and effectiveness through their corporate training workshops and coaching programs.
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