By Wesley Ashton

You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyplace else on earth better to conduct a business meeting than on the golf course. Experiencing the common frustrations of a game of golf is what brings many business executives closer together as well as closing many a business transaction. More corporate partnerships have been affected by a day on the links than you could ever imagine.

When you’re taking your business out on the golf course, you have the luxury of knowing that you all share a common goal: competitiveness. However, as the urge to beat each other grows stronger, the need for tactfulness and decorum is also that much greater. What you say and what you do can greatly affect your course of action with a potential new business associate.

So how do you balance businesslike and sportsmanlike conduct? Unfortunately, there is no one easy answer to this question – and that’s the case with just about any substantial decision in business. You must weigh the outcome in each situation. For example, if you’re trying to sign your next big account, you probably aren’t going to be making fun of your soon-to-be client’s missed chip shot.

This is where striking a harmonious balance is key, because you don’t want to come off as a suck-up, either. If your client ends up scoring a 7 on a par-3 hole, the last thing you want to do is hoot & holler like your great uncle at his first PGA tournament. It’ll be too obvious that you’re just trying to stroke your client’s ego. Taking care of business on the golf course is a delicate task, so have a plan in mind.

Forget everything you learned in Business Presentations 101; do NOT begin your golf match by summarizing what you hope you and your potential client will accomplish by the end of the round. If you want to ensure that you’ll be landing that big account, don’t put on your golf gloves on tee #1 and make your full intentions known. Relax and make yourself comfortable. Make friends first with your potential clients, then introduce them to your business.

As the game progresses, keep in mind that you’ll want to always be on your “A” game. Sure, you might be up against a competitor that is above and beyond your skill level. But if the opposite is true, the last thing that your client wants is for you to “let them win” just so you can gain their business. Play golf like you mean it. Having that healthy level of self-respect is crucial, because it’s a facet of your work ethic that you want your potential business partners to see.

Every day of the week, business comes and goes on golf courses all across the world. You won’t find a better place to make a deal than on the links. Keep your plans in mind, strike that perfect balance between sportsmanlike and businesslike conduct, and don’t forget that humble self-respect. When all is said and done, you may find that taking your business out on the golf course could be the best business decision you ever made.

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