One of the biggest mistake a business golfer can make during a round of golf is to pitch for business..especially business deals. OK, you ask…
If you cannot talk business what do you talk about during a round of golf?
I put together a list of the Top 3 topics of discussion while playing business golf.
Get To Know Each Other
The first thing you are going to need to get out of the way is to stop that urge business people have to pitch their product or services. To do this, start off the first three or four holes with an ongoing discussion directed to getting to know more about each other better. This is going to tough since most people are so time crunched.
If you followed the steps for setting up the round for business golf then all involved know that specific business will be talked after the golf. So asking basic business background questions is good to get out of the way.
Be original and stay away form the old clichés like..
So, what do you do?
There is nothing wrong with talking about what you do in business just keep it within those parameters. Make it part of the ‘Getting To Know You’ portion of the round.
Start off with questions like….
Are you from Dallas (or where you are playing)? Have any kids? How long have you been with XYZ Company? How long have you played golf? Are you a member of a golf club?
These questions are going to generate mirrored questions and should get your through most of the round.
Every business golfer should have played a few rounds of golf so knowing a bit about a golf course can make things interesting especially if your guest has never played the course.
Also, knowing a little golf history works well to generate interesting conversation. Now, pontification on the subject can become a bore and reflect badly on you so keep the info short and quick and move on to something else.
You should do your homework and learn all about the course you are playing before you play it. You lead off your conversation with several..’Did You Know..’ type questions that refer to the golf course or a tidbit of information you learned about the golf course you did not know. Questions like…
Did you know that this hole is the longest hole on the golf course? Or..Did you know that this course was built in (whenever) by (whoever).
Make an effort before the round to find information in the news about golf that just developed or has developed and affects golf. A given is to talk about Tiger and Phil. However, make it interesting and test the water with testing the person’s dept of golf knowledge or interest by asking if he/she has been watching Anthony Kim or Rickie Fowler.
Sport that you are not completely familiar with should be avoided. I know there are a lot of football and baseball and yes, Hockey fans out there who play golf. Not being one of those fans and trying to talk shop with your guest about the sport would display foolishness. Not a good thing to be demonstrating in a round of business golf.
Add these questions in with the round and you are walking on safe ground.
The ‘for sure’ fall back is the ‘ol Business Section’ of the newspaper. Always scan the news online or in print for the latest in what is happening in business. If there is one thing outside of golf that you and your business golfing partner have in common it is you are both in business. So talking about what is going on in business is fair game.
Just make sure you know what you are talking about and be honest with your guest if the conversation goes off into a niche you are not familiar with. Don’t think Not Knowing something is a negative. Saying things like..
I am not familiar with that can you tell me more?
..will get the conversation going in an area your guest is comfortable with. This shows you more about who you are dealing with.
A warning should be made here. Make sure to stay away from any issues that surround politics or religion. You might as well go ahead and pitch your sale if you start off with anything the President is doing right now. (See, I just pissed someone off just saying that)
You run about an 85% chance of hacking someone off or giving off the wrong impression of your position on things by getting into discussions about politics, sports or religion. So, purposefully change the subject if things inter the political or religious arenas.
These are just three of the topics you can start with. In what order is up to you. Just remember, the cardinal rule is ‘No Product Pitching’ or pitching of anything outside of pitching him/her on letting you buy them a soft drink off the beverage cart or into a $2 Nassau with a double press..that is, once you have gotten to know your guest.
Have fun out there. And..let me know how I can help.