As the spring nears, get prepared to have your networking in gear. Although it is important to think about networking all year round, somehow spring seems to call for a golf outing as an opportunity for networking. Even though people may think that women and golf don’t always go together (partly due to the fact that golf is a sport predominantly dominated by men), you may like to give it a try, given the personal and business benefits. I am excited to try it for the first time; here are a few noteworthy reasons that convinced me to sign up for my first golf lesson:
First, aside from the physical benefits of the sport, it is worth pointing out the networking opportunities; you can be killing two birds with one stone (or golf club). In an effort to boost your business, golf can be your answer. In Linda Lowen’s article Grass Ceiling: Women playing Golf on about.com, Linda cites from the Grass Ceiling, Inc., a consulting group that offers golf workshops for women executives and minorities, “The game of golf is synonymous with ‘big business,’ and is one of the most effective tools for the networking and deal making in the modern business world.” You can look at golf as an essential business development tool which will allow you to meet potential clients and expand your list of prospects. There are many companies that maintain private memberships at golf courses for the benefit of growing the business. However, in order to grow the business, we need to understand how to network while playing a game. I found some great networking tips featured by EWGA (Executive Women Golf Association) on this site.
Golf, unique to its rules, is like no other as the game can last, at the very least, two to three hours. You might ask yourself then, how can you afford to take off when you are running a business that already takes 24hours/7days a week to run? It is this very concept that a game of golf allows you to focus on your most important or established clients. It allows you to understand that it takes time to build and retain a strong client base.
Susan Reed, Editor and Chief of the Women Golf Magazine, reminds us that women are just now learning what men have known for years: golf may be the one of the best relationship-building tools there is – both for business and for pleasure. In essence, if you are spending this time with clients you are giving yourself time to listen to the clients’ needs more closely and therefore, building a stronger relationship.
Last but not least, there are personal benefits to golfing. Although the relationship building and client building reasons alone are enough to venture onto a golf course, the personal benefits include mentally challenging yourself and enriching personal relationships with family and friends. I never considered golf until my daughter showed interest and signed up for her school golf team, and I realized this was truly an activity I can both share with her and use to build professional relationships.
Maria Lopez is Director of Latina Programs at the Women’s Business Development Center.