Golf and business go hand in hand. People do business with other people that they like and not just companies. Therefore, it is imperative to let your potential new client get to know you as a person and not just by your rehearsed sales pitch which includes that funny trick can do with your gold-plated pen before you lay it down on the contract and ask for their business. People see through those stunts. You need to offer them something they don’t get elsewhere; you need to offer them substance and character.
Offering substance is easier said than done. You have flaws. We all do. Those flaws may be more evident on the golf course than in the board room. On the course, there are variables which are out of your control. Wind. Rain. That shank into the woods on five. All these variables make a round of golf much like business and much like life – packed full uncontrollable variables that illustrate your reaction to such events.
Throwing your club into the woods following your bad tee shot shows that you are an emotional person who reacts illogically when faced with a challenge. Blaming the wind or other variables shows your lack of accountability and gives your client a glimpse of what lies ahead when they call with a concern or a complaint.
On the positive side, being able to lose well shows that you are a gracious person who knows exactly who you are. You do not need to win a round of golf to prove how great you are – you already know. As a side note, it’s bad form to beat the boss or a client in anything. If you are that good you can make it close and show that you are a good competitor.
Horrible golfer? Skip the course all together. You will most likely not be able to hide your frustration in front of the client. You should choose another low-pressure alternative to the board room meeting. Perhaps you should choose dinner if you know some great place and can order in French although I think dinner is played out. Maybe taking the client sailing will best display your multi-dimensionality. There are many low-pressure alternatives to a round of golf and that can put you and your substance on full display. It’s important to pick the activity that suits you best, offers plenty of opportunity to discuss your product and to ensure the client has a great time.
As a small business owner you need to have a decent golf game (or one of the alternatives above). Networking on the course builds relationships and strong bonds – as long as you don’t make an ass out of yourself. Golfing is a low-pressure way of displaying your substance and throwing in some well-timed banter about your company and or product. Be classy and the client will select you and your company will just be along for the ride. And you thought playing golf with business associates was just a way to get out of the office for an afternoon!