Our business partners from Perfect China and their best performing sales representatives joined us in South Africa this week. Our joint venture with Perfect China started from my friendship with CEO, Mr Woo Swee Lian, that developed on the golf course. And of course, despite a jam-packed itinerary, this week we again made time for some golf.
When their wives complain, husbands often explain that golf is business. An while it might sound like a handy excuse, the truth is that although the deal is often not signed between the holes, getting to know a prospective business partner on the golf course can be very worthwhile for future business endeavours.
- Do your homework on the course. Do not take prospective customers to a course that is under construction or facilities that are poorly kept.
- Take care when picking your partner – choose the decision-makers.
- Be on time. Be there before guests.
- Wear the appropriate attire – without trying too hard.
- Ease into it. Do not dive into business straightaway – start with some pleasantries and unrelated conversation.
- Never cheat. While this is true for everything everywhere, future business partners might not be as enthusiastic about dealing with you if you are dishonest from the word go.
- Don’t be too competitive. While giving your best and showing a healthy sense of competition are encouraged, remember that your focus is more on the relationship than the game.
- To win or not to win? Play to your ability and use the handicap system to make it even.
- Don’t get angry.
- If wagers are at stake, keep it friendly and the stakes low.
- Compliment partners on a good shot or putt.
- If you know the course, give your partner some pointers.
- Comply with the etiquette of the game – repair divots, etc.
- Keep a steady pace – don’t let the day drag on too long.
- Don’t force the issue – although your goal might be to do business, inviting possible business partners to golf is about giving them a good time. If all goes well, business will develop naturally.
- Have a few business cards on hand.
- Do end the game with a meal or at least some relaxation and drinks – this is a great opportunity to have a proper discussion.
- Also behave well towards other golfers and golf club personnel. A lot can be said about someone based on their interaction with other people.
- The next day, follow up by scheduling a lunch or meeting or at least connecting via a professional network like LinkedIn.
In general, these tips all guide you towards behaving in a gentlemanly fashion and a way that would encourage your partner to do business with you even if the deal is not signed on the day.
Featured image: I took a picture of colleagues and business partners at Leopard’s Creek earlier this week.