Eds. Note: This article was contributed by Women
Rainmakers, part of the Marketing Core Group.
I am often asked how to build business relationships
when you don’t play golf. Generally, the question
is posed as a statement “Everyone else in my firm
plays golf to entertain prospects or clients, but I’m
not a golfer.”
The first response is “Why don’t you play
golf?” One of my clients went to a week-long golf
camp with her spouse. She came back feeling good enough
about her golf game to be comfortable playing with other
people. Her next step was to join a businesswomen’s
golf organization for experience as well as fun. She
now plays “customer golf” and is enjoying
the sun, fun, relaxation, and her business is booming!
Don’t give up without trying it.
I know golf isn’t for everyone. A lawyer, who
is a close friend, regularly tells everyone in earshot
that he hates golf. Yet, he will always volunteer at
a client’s or favorite non-profit’s golf
tournament. A number of years ago he was flipping hamburgers
at just such an event when a partner of another law
firm approached. In casual conversation, the golfer
mentioned that my friend had been the topic of conversation
as the golfer’s law firm was trying to fill a
position. While flipping hamburgers, my friend mentioned
he might be interested in talking further. He is now
a partner at that firm.
If you know for sure that playing golf isn’t
for you, here are fifteen alternatives to consider:
- Visiting a museum, followed by lunch in the museum
café. This is most effective when there is
a special exhibit and you can get a docent dedicated
to your party. (It may take a little negotiation,
but consider this even if the party is only a party
- Charter a boat and sail while you eat "picnic-style".
- Offer a pair of tickets to the Ballet or to a theatre
company to a prospect. You may not get to know the
individual any better, but your kind generosity will
- If you happen to be a pretty good photographer,
use your camera constantly as a visual diary. At client
events--social gatherings, business meetings (when
appropriate), and trade shows--take photos. One of
my friends has copies made of the photos, puts the
best ones in handsome paper matte folios, and gives
them to her clients. When she visits her client's
offices, she notices that the photos are prominently
displayed on their desks, credenzas, and bookshelves.
They're much appreciated. In addition, your clients
will mention your name when their visitors ask, “Who
took that great picture of you?”
- Play tennis! Many corporate outings have a "tennis
track" that runs parallel to the golf track.
If you ask a prospect or client to play tennis, consider
playing doubles. This is an easy option for multiple
people from the same firm or business to entertain
two people at the same time.
- Attend afternoon tea. For the "right"
person, afternoon tea is a terrific form of entertainment.
A bit different, soothing, and conducive to discussion
during the late afternoon.
- Take people fly-fishing. For roughly $300 for a
day, plus state licenses, you can hire a guide who
will also provide you with the necessary equipment
for a guaranteed different experience.
- Take clients duck hunting with a guide. The cost
is in the $600 price range for an outing of four in
New Jersey. Be prepared to either clean them for your
prospect or pay for it. Not all people are eager to
kill an animal, so make sure you know your prospect
or client well enough before asking them to join you
on this adventure.
- Attend a "Triple A" baseball game. Box
seats and including children, especially if you have
some of your own at about the same age to bring along,
can make it a very special time.
- Go to a football game! Start planning now if your
local team is popular.
- Treat a client to dinner and the theatre/concert/ballet.
This works well for an evening event and provides
ample time for schmoozing over dinner. If your intended
guest is of the opposite sex, consider inviting spouses
to avoid having others assume you are on a date.
- Invite your client or prospect to go to a cooking
class with you. Fun and informal classes are offered
at many restaurants and gourmet grocery stores.
- Host a wine tasting of Italy with five different
stations of wine and appetizers. This can be done
with an upscale wine store. They’ve done many,
so ask for help and limit your group to non-competitive
people that you think should know each other. This
can pay big dividends to you if you take the time
to plan effectively.
- Offer box seats at a hockey game. Although I'm
not a huge sports fan, they are enjoyable enough and
give me the opportunity to bring more than one person
along (much like organizing the right "foursome"
in golf). I usually buy the tickets at a charity event,
so it even pays other dividends.
- Organize a lunch meeting. I rely very heavily on
marketing to potential new clients, where I can include
an existing client, on lunch meetings--where the venue
is upscale, and the service is slow. The extra time
gives people an opportunity to relax.
And when all else fails, I take them to breakfast at
I want to offer special thanks to the members of the
Delaware Forum of Executive Women for contributing their
proven options to this article.
Kay Keenan is President of Growth
Consulting Inc. where she advises businesses on profitable
growth. Her clients have included business-to-business
companies as well as consumer markets ranging from
accountants and architects to technology and manufacturing
companies. She is a dynamic leader with twenty years
of consumer and business-to-business marketing experience
at both a Fortune 200 company and a Fortune 500 Investor
Owned Public Utility. She is experienced in start-up
ventures as well as growing through acquisition. While
at an Investor Owned Public Utility, Kay was a key
member of the management team that led 24 acquisitions
to build a $140 million dollar business in four years.
Kay enjoys helping others learn, and is recognized
for her talent in marketing and as a business advisor.
She is a Past President of the Delaware Forum of Executive
Women and of Wilmington Women in Business.
To learn more about Kay and her business Growth Consulting
Inc. visit www.GrowthConsultingInc.com