This is part two of the series of blogs on How to Play Business Golf. As I left it in the last blog, we are into making ‘The Plan’ for the round of Business Golf.
OK, we now have a calendar full of dates planned for and entire season of Business Golf. Now comes the time to invite the people to play a round of golf. This is not as casual as you think it would be and is where many business people fail at getting the person they want to play business golf to actually show up.
One of the complaints I hear most from business golfers has to do with them being stood up by the person they invited to join them for a day of golf. After looking into the problem over 99% of the time the person who did not show up did not take the invitation seriously.
Don’t Be Casual
Most people take playing golf with a potential client to casual. They make a connection at a function, exchange business card, make a remark “we should play golf sometime” and then go on chatting about what they came together to talk about which generally has to do with delivering their canned elevator speech. The remark about playing golf together is usually taken as rhetorical. That first delivery of the invitation to someone to play golf is how all other invitation that follow will be taken.
Over 90% of the people studied felt emailing a person after the initial connection to invite them to play golf, or to expand upon the rhetorical statement, was correct step to take to securing the person for a round of golf. The fact remained that a vast majority of the people who actually received the email still took the invitation to play golf as something that was on the personal or social side of doing business which is placed in less importance in too many business people.
The appropriate or proven method of making the first invitation to play business golf is during the initial contact by ask..
“Would you accept my invitation to play a round of golf if I sent you one?
Asking a question places the statement of playing golf with someone in a more serious context. It also evaluates the seriousness of the business contact at the initial introductions. The question also serves a sifter of people who are really serious about doing business. This eliminates not just being stood up at the golf course but the likely hood of being stood up in business.
Formal is The Only Way
The proven method of securing a business golf partner is to send a formal invitation. My studies showed that over 90% of the people who received a card in the mail inviting them to play a round of golf were more likely to placed the outing on the calendar verses the less serious email invitation. As far as business etiquette goes the formal invitation card ranks as high as the formal thank you card. The formal invitation shows a professionalism which places the golf outing as a business event and not just a recreational round of golf.
The wording on the invitation is very important. Cards that have a personal comment are viewed more seriously than a generic Hallmark ‘Join Me’ card. I prefer making a hand written statement that states the intentions clearly of what will take place after the round of golf. I use the statement..
“Look forward to taking a few minutes after the golf to get to know more about your business.” or “This invitation also includes an opportunity for me to ask a few questions about your business after the round of golf”
A clear intention statement on the invitation draws out the RSVP. Do not take heart to the fact that many people may decline to play since they feel they will be pitched something. Survey shows that there is a less than 10% chance of that happening, but should be expected form time to time since some people are not as open as others. Always keep the door open and come back to these people in a few weeks and invite them to play in a charity golf tournament or some other form of business golf. Just make sure that each time there is a formal invitation sent.
Who to Invite
Naturally, the list of who to send invitation would consist of known golfers. However, the question over 99% of the business golfers I coach ask has to do with dealing with those who they do not know play golf. This is a real concern. Since only 60% of business people play golf there is a good chance that many of the people you want to get to know better may not play golf.
However, this does not mean they do not want to learn to play golf. So finding out if there are a few in your contact list who do want to learn to play golf could send you back to the planning step. This time the planning would be for a golf school or golf clinic instead of a round of golf. So the invitation would be to those who would be interested in spending the day learning to play golf.
The same formal approach to inviting non-golfers should be used when inviting someone to a golf school or golf clinic.
Next Step: The Day of the Outing
I’ll be back in my next blog to expand upon the next step on How To Play Business Golf.