Birdie your Way to that Business Deal: Networking the Golf Way
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A Mont Blanc pen, an expensive tie or an after-work drinks do is pass?; the corporate world is out at the golf course getting their business done. Corporate America is said to have snitched the most of their prime business deals on the golf course and India is not too far behind.
Golf Course as a Business Platform
India has approximately 200 plus golf courses across the country with several governing bodies and associations edging it on to become a growing sport. Great news for those who always wanted to try their hand at this intriguing sport that the likes of Tiger Woods and JeevMilkha Singh have played, but even greater news for entrepreneurs and corporate white collars who need a platform to understand the people they want to do business with.
While most of the average corporate bigwigs and businessmen sit for hours around a table watching presentations after presentations with hardly any opportunity to network with the other participants, the world's top business deals are casually discussed between a group of avid golfers on a verdant, green golfing course during the cart ride out to the next hole, where besides showing your skills and prowess on the course you get close to four to five hours up close and personal time with your fellow players.
A Great Game of Golf or a Deal -- A Bit of Both
Ask yourself this - which ace do you want to hoard up your sleeve for the next win - a great game of golf or that deal that you had dreamt of clinching? If it is a bit of both, then the first step would be to break free from the idea of a conventional straight-collared meeting and get yourself to a professional golf course with a practice range or a standalone golf range to learn the game. For the uninitiated, it makes more sense to combine practice on the range and the course to begin with.
While on the learning curve, it is certainly not beneath your dignity to act as a golfer to the other players on the course; this could be your chance to watch the game up close and pick up a few tricks from the seasoned players and simultaneously also build ground with them. Once there, practice is all it takes and very soon you might find yourself initiating a four-ball game with some top guys from the business world or playing with them in amateur competitions.
Of course, when you are putting that shot to strike a business deal, there are a few tips of the list that will hold you in good stead:
- Remember that you are looking to build a relationship and not win against the other guys; keep the game intriguing yet simple and not overtly competitive. In fact, let them teach you a thing or two
- Understand the gaming etiquette and stick to it
- Pick the co-players well; you want to mingle with the decision makers after all!
- Do not rush it; wait till a fair bit of the game is under the clock before you initiate a conversation that veers on the business side and even then, keep it casual
- Watch your partners closely yet casually to judge their ability to strategize, make decisions and stay cool under fire; these are the qualities that you can capitalize on while building a business rapport
- Have a plan; think about where you want to take the day's game and relationship. Perhaps after the first few days, giving away golf-related mementoes with your company's insignia on them could work too
- Oh, and do not make the game about drinking one too many; you may not to stay in control of where you want to take the conversation and relationship
If you are ready to make a start, India has some great golf courses that can be calibrated against any courses across the globe to start your game from.
Delhi Golf Club and it's Old-world Charm
The Delhi Golf Club (DGC) is an old, centrally located course that has the ambience of some ancient ruins adding to the old-world charm. Generations of business tycoons and corporate bigwigs have sat around the tables in the charming cafeteria and shook hands over deals that changed the course of their organization. Also in New Delhi is the 18-hole Qutab Golf Course, which is set against the backdrop of the historic Qutab Minar.
Within the boundaries of the Delhi NCR region is the DLF Golf & Country Club. Situated in the modern buzzling corporate city of Gurgaon, home to over 250 Fortune 500 companies, this twenty-seven-hole course has a large number of water bodies, making it a very challenging one. Again, in the NCR region, Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida, with its plush fairways, water bodies and its upcoming commercial ventures is the preferred destination for the entrepreneur base of Noida.
Sneak Peak of Mumbai and Bengaluru Golf Grounds
In Mumbai, the financial capital of India, stands the magnificent Bombay Presidency Golf Club. The 18-hole par 70 course is amongst the finest in the country and a platform for some of the best business brains in India to network from.
The city of Bengaluru has its Karnataka Golf Association, a dream like course with its beautifully manicured grounds. Home to almost all the big Indian and MNC companies in the country, this golf course is ideal for building long standing alliances.
The next time you want to bond with a possibly future business partner, and the choice of networking platform is between an aggressive game of tennis that can leave you with no breath to make conversation or a game of golf, you know which one will win you alliances and deals.
Oh, and do remember to take a few of your business cards with you to hand out to your partners during the post-game drinks or meal!