Building (and Growing) Business Relationships on the Golf Course

I’ve learned over the last several years the value the golf course can play in creating & maintaining good client relationships. We understand the importance of client relationships and do our best to nurture them. One way I like to do this is out on the golf course.

I know, it sounds like a rough day at the office, my wife loves to remind me of that. Just hear me out…

People buy from people they know, like and trust. Golf gives you the opportunity to establish (and grow) all three.

“It’s a bit of a looking glass into how people think,” says Brad Brewer, a PGA Professional and author of  Mentored by the King: Arnold Palmer’s Success Lessons for Golf, Business and Life. “You observe over a period of time the habits of the individual. You see their integrity, their mannerisms, how they approach different situations, how they deal with success and failure. But in the end, I think the beauty of being able to create a relationship with somebody and bond with them for four or five hours is very valuable—I don’t know that there’s another place that you have the capability of doing that.”

For me, golf is an extremely effective business tool. It allows me to get personal with our clients and create the kind of open candid conversation that it can take years to reach in a conference room setting.Golf Networking

Over a round of golf, we can get past the high level “goals” that clients typically share with us: “increase visibility”, “get more traffic”, “better rankings” etc (all of which we can do by the way) and get to the real business goals. When we start hearing things like ” we’re expanding our product line and need to generate leads to fill capacity for x” or “our highest margin products are y widgets, we want to sell more of those”.  Those are the goals we need to understand and often these types of conversations come more quickly on the course.

A true personal relationship creates the opportunity and comfort level to be real and honest. I am fortunate to have become friends with many of our clients, which has benefited both TKG and our clients.

If you’re just jumping into the idea of mixing business with pleasure (as some like to say), here are some of the Business Golf Tips I’ve learned over the years that might help you out:

1. Be on your best behavior
– Control your frustration
– Don’t be overly competitive, but don’t let anyone win either
– Don’t drink too much

2. Respect the game
– Don’t cheat
– Follow golf etiquette (repair divots, stand away from players, etc)
– If you’re not at least a decent golfer, get lessons!

3. Be organized
– Arrive before the other players
– Have all necessary accommodations setup for guests beforehand
– Plan time for lunch or drinks afterwards

Do you have any additional business golf tips I missed? If so, share them in the comments and of course, if you’re ever looking for a fourth, I’d be happy to oblige!

Geoff is our fearless leader – President & Owner of TKG, a role he’s held proudly for the past 15 years. He likes to talk “big picture” online marketing trends and strategy, and how/why businesses can use the web to achieve their goals. He’s also a passionate Steelers fan; we felt you should know that.

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