Sometimes you have to do things you don’t like or fully understand, but that’s no excuse for not making the most of every situation. Say, for example, you don’t enjoy sports, but your biggest client is a die-hard football fan or well known for discussing deals on the golf course.
What to do? Some would say fake it until you make it. Just pretend you know what you’re doing until you’re a master manipulator or somebody calls you out on your painfully obvious lack of skills. Whatever the outcome, how do you sleep at night…?
A better game plan is to embrace the opportunity to learn something, to let somebody teach you. People like to be experts. It makes them feel good. And they LOVE to talk about things that interest them. Your clients are no different, so why not leverage their love of all things sports into a chance to build your relationship?
Instead of desperately devouring statistics before the next big game, show up with some basic knowledge of who’s involved and what’s going on. By this I mean you should probably know the team names and how to get to the stadium, and would it kill you to peruse a highlight reel? But other than that, be a blank canvas. Let your client do the talking and lead the conversation. Maybe they don’t want to talk at all. You are at a sporting event after all, and you don’t want to be “that guy” who won’t shut up when everybody else just wants to watch the game.
So, that’s all fine and well when you’re a spectator of the sport. But what if you actually have to play? It seems a fair amount of business is done on the golf course these days, and that can leave those without the faintest talent or interest in the game out of the club.
CBS News offers the following tips for non-golfers who find themselves on the links with a business associate:
• Know the rules and etiquette of the game (a blog article posted last Friday by Pamela Thomas)
• Brush up on your terminology
• Be cool, calm and collected, even under pressure
• Don’t cheat (duh), and don’t be too competitive
• Have fun
From the article:
“I’ve played many rounds of golf with people who have worked for me. It’s a great environment for developing business relationships because you’re out there for at least four hours with no interruptions, no cell phones. That gives you a chance to bond. Even if the person I’m playing with is not a good golfer, I remember him if we had a pleasant day together.”
—Jim Thompson, president of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, which helps former broadcasters who have fallen on hard times. Thompson served as president and CEO of Liberty Broadcasting and was the president of Westinghouse Broadcasting.
Finally, and I know I’m a little late to the rodeo on this one, what is so darn captivating about March Madness brackets? I’ve tried to understand what all the fuss is about, but I just don’t get it. Maybe next year I’ll take Buzzfeed’s advice on picking a bracket with zero knowledge of basketball.