Whether looking for new business or a job new opportunity, networking can be key to success. It is easy to meet new people while attending a PGA seminar or meeting or at tournaments, or when you play at different facilities. It happens in everyday life as well. You never know when you might be getting a sandwich at a golf course, or waiting in line at Starbucks, and be standing next to someone who can turn out to be instrumental in your career. Will you know how to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes?

The fundamental challenge is to get to know people and make a positive impression on them that will lead them to remember you… or to recommend you to others. Thus, being able to strike up and maintain a conversation with a new person is an essential career skill.

There are easy ways to make it genuine and intentionally beneficial for your goals in the conversation. Here are some key tools for impromptu public networking:

1. Approachability – A friendly smile, a polite greeting and relaxed body language all show that you are open to conversation.

2. Awareness– Watch for cues that signal whether they, too, are open to conversation. If they are seriously practicing on the range, pull out an iPod or seem way too engrossed in a newspaper or book, they are giving a signal that they are not interested in conversing.

3. Inquiry- If and when the conversation does get beyond an initial “hello”, often it is easiest to draw people out by asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves. Good go-to questions revolve around golf or sports, food and travel. There is a lot of common ground in those topics.

4. Pitch- Take time to prepare a succinct way to share what your facility offers in terms of value, products or playability of the course. Or if you are looking for a new opportunity, share what you uniquely bring to a job in terms of experience, wisdom, savvy and knowledge. Offer your thoughts on ways you can make money, save money, share your innovative ideas and solve problems. Share what results you can create versus sharing your skillset. Have 7 or 8 stories ready to share about your accomplishments. And inject a sense of humor where you can.

You want to be responsive to their questions as well. Be able to articulate what you are looking for. Often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?” and no quick answer comes to mind. Be prepared.

5. Business cards- If you had a pleasant conversation with someone, exchange business cards as an invitation to keep the door open for future contact.

All of these steps, while simple, take preparation. Be sure to practice whenever you have an opportunity to do so, and your networking will become more productive.

 

Contact Carol Pence by calling (510) 706-1583 or via e-mail at CPence@pgahq.com.