Business deals get done, connections are made and promotions are offered on the golf course; However, many women aren’t taking advantage of spending an afternoon on the links with business associates, because they don’t always feel like they belong. Ashleigh McLaughlin, the Manager of Programs and Marketing at the LPGA, thinks it’s time to get rid of that attitude.
Accept the invite
McLaughlin advises women who may be hesitant to accept an offer to play golf to just say yes, and to “go out there and build relationships, just like your male colleagues.” There are very few other places in the business world where women have the opportunity to make high-level connections on a neutral playing field. The golf course is a uniquely formal and informal place, where rules and tradition blend nearly seamlessly with casual fun and frankness that can strengthen business relationships. Skill level makes no difference; Even men who rarely golf will take advantage of an outing and the chance to improve business contacts. Women should feel welcome to do the same, but some often do not, because they hesitate to begin learning a game they feel is inaccessible to them as working women.
If women are worried about their proficiency on the course, McLaughlin suggests taking a few lessons on the basics of golf, preferably in a group of other beginners or female colleagues. Learning becomes more fun and comfortable when women are with a group. And, by joining a group lesson with new people, women can also practice their networking skills, as McLaughlin believes that golf gives women the chance to meet people and community leaders who may end up helping them advance their careers.
There are other ways golf can help women climb the corporate ladder.
Golf is a great way for women to learn their strengths and weaknesses in a neutral environment. Perhaps a woman who has always thought of herself as good at meeting new people finds herself shy when interacting her new golf group, or, even the opposite — a good listener might find herself talking too much during instruction and missing the point of the lesson.
Forge international connections
There are golf courses in virtually every city in every country in the world. Golfing while traveling opens up opportunities with people you may have never met otherwise.
Activate your brain
McLaughlin calls it “brain balance,” because she’s challenged to think and approach obstacles differently when she’s on the course, giving her the ability to look at problems in different ways when back in the office. Thinking outside the box gets noticed.
Escape the office
Golf gets women away from the formality of their office and into the fresh air with their co-workers. Spending a couple hours at the golf course allows for everyone to unplug and unwind while still leaving the door open to talk business in a more casual setting.
The landscape of golf is changing every day, and women can help shape it into something truly amazing for everyone. Women in the business world create their own opportunities out on the golf course, just like their male colleagues. It all starts by taking that first swing.
Sue Poremba, [email protected]