By Patrick Fitzgerald
Have you ever wondered when the appropriate time to conduct business on the golf course might be? Or perhaps how to make the round both enjoyable and beneficial for you and your clients?
Rather than conducting business in a conference room or corner office, networking and administering business in open, unconventional spaces has become the new norm, especially this year. With businesses moving towards a more casual environment and with special consideration being given towards the health and safety of others due to COVID19, it’s not uncommon for a business meeting or networking opportunity to present itself on the golf course.
Courses around the country have had their busiest year to date as many are taking advantage of the safe, outdoor environment. Being outside in nice weather for a few hours with friends, colleagues, clients, and family has been a great way to keep sane during these times. But what happens when you’re playing a round with a mentor or prospective client? How and when do you bring up and discuss business? At the start of the first hole? After the round is over? Do you set up a time to discuss at another time?
In order to be both professional and personal with your guest, the most appropriate time to discuss business on the golf course starts on the 5th hole (about an hour into the round). While it may be top of mind and something you’d like to move past so you can enjoy the game, it is not appropriate to jump right into business within the first hour of play. After all, you will be out there for four hours or more! Not only does it give everyone time to focus on perfecting their swing, but it also gives both you and your client time to talk about family, sports, weather, or whatever comes to mind prior to jumping into the business portion of your meeting.
Focus on the Relationship. Working for a search firm is all about relationships. In order to advance your career, you have to put yourself out there and meet new people. I like to take both candidates and clients out for a round a golf when I know it’s an activity we can both bond over and enjoy. While it may be a little outside of your comfort zone, you never know who you may meet and relationships you may make by accepting to play a round with people you don’t know. While on the course, it may take 4-6 holes in order to break the ice, get to know each other, and start having meaningful conversations. By the end of the round, you will have had to opportunity to close a deal or build a brand-new relationship.
Have Patience. Whether you are a serious golfer and play multiple rounds per week or you are the golfer who plays a few outings per year, being patient and handling business discussions after about an hour into the round always works well. If you jump right into outing discussing business on the first swing, you may rub some people the wrong way. This is especially important to consider when meeting people for the first time. Without the small talk, the ask will not be heard. Think about it, would you hand someone your business card or ask for referrals without really knowing the person or their product?
Build Trust. This is one of the most important values for any business, especially within recruiting at CSP. Our entire brand is built on building trust with our clients and candidates. While on the course, having that time to build trust goes a long way for both current and future business with whomever you are teeing off with. While building trust may not take just one round of golf with a client, another round in the near future may really make things beneficial for you and your client and solidify your interest in helping them.
I encourage everyone to take advantage of the unconventional workspace and bring your clients, prospects, mentors, and colleagues to the course (weather permitting). There is a lot of business left to discuss this year and what better way to do it than while enjoying the fresh air and possible a beverage or two – just remember to leave room for some casual conversation at first! CSP has been a sponsor for multiple golf outings throughout the Greater Baltimore area and we thrive on the relationships we’ve built there. I’m looking forward to seeing you all on the links soon.