Over the past five years I have formally invited over 300 business men and women to play business golf and have been turned down over 100 times. So, yes, I have played a lot of business golf and got to know a lot more people much better than if I had just talked on the phone or had a cup of coffee. The most interesting things I have learned about business people who play golf came from the those who turned down my invitation. I could tell more about their trustworthiness and competence as a business person from their response to my invitation.
It is in what these business people say to reply to my invitation where I get the most feedback to if the person is honorable or just another lost sole whose priorities is set on problem solving instead of finding solutions.
The first test of a business golfer’s character comes way before the first tee. How a person responds to an invitation to play a round of business golf gives you the first glimpse of the person’s trustworthiness. Especially if that person just told you they are an avid golfer.
Usually the “time” factor is what causes most people to flinch when they receive an invitation to play golf. True, it does take time to play golf. However, the commitment in time spent to play golf with someone else is mutual.
I, like many others who invite business people to play a round of business golf, do not take lightly the time I have to set aside to play the round of golf. Generally, I will not expend the invitation to play Business Golf unless there is something in the business relationship I was interested in or wanted to know more about. However, in replying to a invitation I receive I understand the importance of the round of golf and generally change my scheduled to accept the round of business golf.
What the invitation to play business golf is really saying is..
I am willing to take a day of my work schedule to show you who I am. Are you willing to take the time to show me who you are?
Unfortunately, many business people do not see this opportunity to find out who someone is, or how they may or may not help them, as being very important. Their decline usually reflects how much they respect the commitment of time the person who expends the invitation is willing to take.
Flat out refusals to play can be taken as it was intended…more or less an insult, or being viewed as a waste of a person’s time. This speaks volumes on how this person would be in business or in a business deal.
A decline on the date can be understood if schedules do not match. Those responses are honorable. What can heightened the trustworthiness of the invitee would be to offer a full compromise by responding with an invitation to join them to play business golf at their facility on the date they are available. This response sends a message back that ..
Yes, I agree we need to play a round of Business Golf, but my schedule is in conflict.
Nonetheless, those responses are few and can also spell trouble if repeated.
The usual response I have received reflects the person’s lack of understanding of what business golf is and generally the decline is made due to them confusing the invitation as being an attempt to get them to take time off from work to frill away their time on the golf course. It is this confusion on understanding business golf and how it is played that gives business golf the wrong reputation.
Sometimes the invitee will offer a weaker compromise. Over 80% of the responses I received to my invitations to play business golf will have replies that show more of the person’s true feels towards the seriousness of the invitation, and to playing golf, as being a business relationship building opportunity. Most feel their response is cordial and do not realize that they really just played their hand in how they more than likely do business.
The usually compromise to my invitations comes in a reply like …
“I can’t afford to waste a half day away from the office so lets make it nine holes and we can talk shop while we play.”
The message here is really saying…
“Hey, I can’t manage my business very well and playing a round of golf is too frivolous to spend more than a couple of hours.”
Lots of messages are broadcasted from the response from an invitation to play golf that gives you an indication how much trust you may want to put into that business relationship.
However, most of the responses business people make to an invitation to play a round of golf come from thinking the round of golf is waste of time. This is usually due to the invitation not being made in a formal manor or making it clear the golf is part of the process of the business meeting or opportunity get to know each other better. How the invitation is made is very important and most business people usually do not process a formal invitation. It is this casual invitation that gives the invitation a casual feel which leads to the round of golf not achieving any results. Most business people do not have the time to be casual which is how they will see the round of golf.
Responses to graciously decline or offering a compromise to an invitation to play business golf can tell you a lot about the person. It can tell you if they really care about their image in the business community and if they are able to manage their business well enough to schedule the time to develop new business connections. It can tell you if they are comfortable with themselves or if they have some deception to their way of doing business.
In today’s economy and business world trustworthiness is what business people should be looking for in business relations. If you are serious about finding out more about a business person or their business opportunity then the invitation to play golf should be made formal so it is clear that the golf will be golf and the business will be business.
Let me know how I can Help.