Monday, December 15, 2008

Using Golf Off the Course to Build Rapport

I've had two instances where I've used golf to my advantage even without playing golf with the other parties. The first time I used golf to my benefit was at a local pizzeria. The owner-host was always professional during past visits, but never friendly. The other night I started talking about golf with him, and it was like we were long lost friends. At the end of the night, he gave me his business card and told me to call him whenever I wanted to go out and play the course we talked about that evening. It was a surprise, and I look forward to go back to his restaurant.

The latest incident involved getting my car repaired at a local dealership. On Friday, I brought in the car to remedy a same noise I was hearing, but it was never repaired during the previous two visits. I test drove the car with the shop foreman and somehow we ended up talking about golf. When I picked up my car today, not only was the noise repaired, but three other items were also repaired that I didn't complain about. According to the service advisor, the foreman said because my car warranty was about to expire, so he gave it a careful look over.

Okay, I can "feel" the skepticism about car dealers and my repairs. But I think it was a sincere gesture to help me fix my car.

Unlike politics or religion, which can create a bond or an immediate enemy with a stranger, golf doesn't bring up such intense feelings. It's more likely that if you meet a fellow golfer, you'll have a friend and someone who might help you in ways you can't imagine.

Play on!


Clayton Garland, PGA, C.G.F.I. said...

I spoke recently at a business expo about conducting business on the golf course. There is so much that just conversing about golf can bring to a relationship. The biggest way to hook someone when talking about golf is to find some type of common ground. Whether it be a golf course that you love playing at or a swing problem you can't seem to fix, finding something in common is essential. Personally, when I tell someone I'm a golf professional, I am immediately bombarded with questions (it's all fun though). I really like this blog and the idea behind it. There is so much more to conducting business on a golf course that just letting your partner win.

Clayton Garland, PGA, C.G.F.I.

Suzanne Woo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne Woo said...

Thanks for your comments. I find just having golf in common is enough to start a lively conversation.

As to letting your client win during a business golf round, I advise my clients to avoid making their business golf rounds a win or lose proposition. Everyone should just play their games, and have a good time, without focusing on their scores.

When I'm playing in a business golf round, the last thing I'm concerned about is my score and how I'm playing.

And, if someone gets upset because I should happen to beat him or her, that tells me a lot about that person and how I'd want to work with him or her.

Clayton Garland, PGA, C.G.F.I said...

I agree with that 100%. If someone gets upset because of the outcome of the round, it says a lot about their character. It's amazing how much golf and life characteristics mirror each other (ability to deal with adversity, ability to compete, concentration, values, etc.)

Suzanne Woo said...

Hi Clayton,

Thanks for your thoughts!
I agree completely that golf and life mirrors each other. Playing golf with someone can help you when doing business, and I also suggest single women and men use it for a short-cut to dating. See how a person behaves on the course and how he or she treats you while playing together. You'll learn more about that person than you ever could on typical dates, such as going to the movies or out to dinner.

Todd McGregor said...

Hello Suzanne,
I am a new reader here at Business Golf Blog. I agree with what you said about just playing your game. I like to win, but in a business game I don't put as much emphasis on the score, just good decision making, staying positive, and having fun.

Todd McGregor

Suzanne Woo said...

Hi Todd,

Thanks for your comment and glad you're visiting my blog!

I wanted to clarify your comment about good decision-making. Are you referring to course management? If so, I agree it's important whenever one plays. Almost even more so when playing business golf. I am not a long hitter, so I often have to decide whether to go for it with my longer club, or just lay up and try to pitch close.

When I'm playing business golf, I tend to lay up more, and not be so reckless. I don't want to give a playing partner the impression that I either have grandiose visions of being able to get on in regulation or that I'm not a smart course management player.

I'd like to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for your comment!