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Links linking fair way to do business.

For many people, the golf course is a place to relax and unwind. It's a place for good times, good friends and, sometimes, even a good score.

But networking on the links is developing into a common trend among Northern professionals as more and more bring their business to the grassy knolls and plush meadows of their favourite golf courses.

Golf takes time, which makes it an excellent opportunity for taking care of business.

"If you're playing a round of golf with someone, you're out there for four and a half hours together," says Paul Schweyer, CPGA pro at Sudbury's Idylwylde Golf and Country Club. "You get to know that person and build a relationship with that person, which can carry forward into the business world as well."

Ted Sauve, controller at Marathon's Williams Operating Corporation, agrees.

The manager of a bank where he used to work made weekly trips to the links specifically to network and create more business for the bank, he says.

"I think you're doing something that you both enjoy, and you make personal contact with that person," Sauve says. "They get to know you on a more personal level, and once you get to know somebody on a personal level, you're more apt to be trustworthy of that person and more apt to do business.

The relaxed setting of the course can help break the ice, according to Schweyer.

"It's not like you're making a contact at the office," Schweyer says. "I think that being outside, swinging a club and playing golf, that's considered fun. You're in a great environment to create an open dialogue."

When in Rome

The fact that the office hierarchy is temporarily ignored on the links also makes it a good place to make contacts.

"It gives an opportunity for everybody to be equal out there," Schweyer says. "You might have the president of a company being a terrible golfer because he never plays, whereas the lower-downs in the company might have a little more time to play and their games might be a little bit better. So it sort of evens out the playing field."

But, both men concurred that course etiquette is the most important thing to remember when networking on the links.

"It doesn't really matter if you're a bad golfer or a good golfer--more than anything the most important thing on the golf course is etiquette," Schweyer says. "Pace of play is very important. There's also some care of the course that has to be followed: raking the traps, fixing your ball marks and repairing your divots. I think that's really important."

Sauve agrees.

"How you conduct yourself is what counts."

Linking on the links isn't just for professionals already in the field, though.

Students looking to enter the workforce can also benefit from this method of making contacts.

"I think networking is quite essential," said Brian Hawdon, president of the Commerce Council at Sudbury's Laurentian University.

"Who you know will determine where you go, and the kind of jobs you'll find."

Hawdon says his department stresses the importance of networking to its students.

The program runs networking workshops and seminars in order to increase the students' networking skills. He thinks the golf course is a good place to do it.

"It's kind of an informal place to meet for a formal type of proposition," Hawdon says. "If you're comfortable, you'll be confident, and confidence is an important element to being successful."

By KRIS HARRIS

For Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2005 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:social networks
Author:Harris, Kris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:582
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