StreetDirectory reports that: “Executives who play golf experience an 85% better chance of securing a business deal on the golf course than through conventional methods of marketing.” This makes sense – as a golf course is an extended boardroom of sorts, with the added bonus of being both more relaxed and comfortable.
If you’re going to use golf as a business networking tool, it’s pivotal that your event is executed properly. Here are some innovative ways that brands can successfully combine golf and business networking opportunities.
Be strategic about who you put in a four ball
As teams will spend up to 5 hours together playing in a four ball alliance, we suggest you choose relevant staff or clients to match up to each other – you might want to group your marketing executive with a client’s head of sales, or a CFO with a business developer.
Try to match your guests according to their rough handicap
Although your primary focus should be on matching guests with relevant internal staff, you still need to be cognisant of your players’ handicaps. If you’re using an online RSVP tool, you’ll be able to ask guests what their handicap is and then use this information to help build your four ball teams. This method will ensure that no one feels uncomfortable, and eradicates having pro-golfers getting frustrated with amateurs – something not conducive to the initiation of fruitful networking at all.
Pre-arrange meetings between your guests
You can arrange informal meetings between guests on their behalf, which can either take place before or after an event. When someone RSVPs, you can include a list of your company representatives and strategic partners that will also be attending the golf day -guests can browse the list and indicate if they would like to meet with any of these people. Our RSVP system has the necessary tools in place to allow you to do this.
Use sponsored holes for your supply chain to contribute to business networking
In order to deliver a product or service to your customers, you need to rely on several other companies who you procure services from – this is your supply chain. You can use your golf day to showcase the quality partners you work with to your existing and prospective clients who are playing in your golf day.
Prior to the actual event, be sure to brief the people that will be representing your suppliers at the various holes about who is playing in your golf day and what you’re currently trying to sell them. By doing this, when the four ball alliance arrives at the hole, the supplier has inside knowledge and can slip the correct value proposition into any conversations that might happen.
Another option is to “sponsor” your own holes – instead of having supplier representatives manning a hole, put staff from specific functional areas of your business as hosts on a hole. For example, you could have a hole “sponsored” by your customer service division which will allow your guests to put a face to the people they deal with on a daily basis.
Hold a strategically planned post-event dinner or prize giving
Almost every golf day concludes with a dinner and prize giving, and often the players in a four ball alliance will sit at a table together. In order to get the most out of golf and business networking however, you should set up your seating plan to place guests together with different people.
Your CEO may have spent 5 hours on the golf course with the CEO of a potential customer, so the post-event function would be a good time to put the Sales Director together with the potential customer’s CEO so that they can conclude the deal that would have been discussed on the golf course.
Lastly, when designing your seating plan, try and put people with similar preferences together – you don’t want a strict vegan sitting at a table of 10 people who’ve ordered a medium rare steak.
Don’t forget to take advantage of the days just after your event
Emphasise the fact that you value your guests by thanking them timeously for their attendance. In your thank you note, you could include a link to a website that has photographs taken on the day that they can download.
You could also provide a match-making solution, by saying: “We’re glad you enjoyed our golf day. If you forgot to get the details of a fellow attendee, contact us and we’ll connect the two of you”. By doing this you get to extend golf and business networking beyond the actual golf day.
Getting ROI from your golf day
It’s said that cycling is the new golf due to the fact that many business executives have taken up the sport. However, it’s difficult to network when travelling at high speed on a busy road. Golf and business networking are a perfect match, and if you strategically plan it, you’re almost guaranteed ROI.
Image Credit: the north east hub