Golf as a networking tool

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The world, especially the business world, is buzzing with technology—technology that is be-here, need-this, now. So often we look to LinkedIn, email and other social media as our main tools for networking. In such a fast-paced environment, have traditional networking methods been made obsolete?


Cartoon by Stephanie Kirkling


While one might think that a day on the golf course or meeting for coffee have become obsolete practices, in reality technology has made these types of networking even more essential.

As an article in the Pittsburgh Business Times notes, a four-hour meeting with a boss probably would not be accepted enthusiastically. However, four hours on the golf course is a very different story.

Jerry Hoagland, adjunct professor in the business department at the University of Indianapolis, is a proponent of golf as a networking tool.

“I was given a position at the NCAA and also my current position due to some of the networking I had done at different golf tournaments,” Hoagland said.

Hoagland shares with his class at UIndy  the impact of golf as an equalizer in the business world.

“In a round of five hours or so, you’ll watch everybody hit a tree or go in the woods or hit a ball in the water, even the really good players,” Hoagland said. “It’s really a great equalizer seeing everybody, especially a senior-level manager, come down to your level.”

Obviously, golf is not an easy sport to pick up the first day. People who think so have probably never played. Up until recently, I had no idea how frustrating golf really is. But while you can’t pick up golf overnight,  it is possible to learn some things in just a couple of hours that will help improve your golf game.

“Even if you’re not that great at golf, you should at least learn all the etiquette,” Hoagland said.

Don’t talk when people are putting. Don’t walk on their putting lines. Don’t forget to yell “fore.” Golf is a gentleman’s game, and these are just a few of golf’s rules of etiquette. Before you utilize golf as a networking tool, become a professional, even if you’re as bad at golf as I am.

Did I say a gentleman’s game? That was a huge mistake. According to Hoagland, golf is extremely important for women in business as well.

A lot of business occurs on the golf course, and learning the game can prevent missed opportunities. Don’t bury yourself behind a screen just because you don’t know how to play. Learn the etiquette, practice your short game, and embrace networking away from your smart phone. This is the age of technology, but shaking hands after a good shot or laughing off a bad one could still go further than an email.

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