It’s no secret that the typical country club member, or resident, has a sizable net worth—in fact, 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf. What’s surprising is that more startup entrepreneurs aren’t recognizing country clubs and their outstanding facilities as fertile business grounds.
Networking is vital to companies of all ages and sizes, but particularly for startups. Research from Zippia revealed that networking is responsible for the success of 78% of startups surveyed.
For startups, every new connection has the potential to lead to more referrals, partnerships, support, and feedback, which are all vital components during a business’s infancy.
So how can luxurious country clubs help startups establish themselves and network to success? Let’s find out.
Networking Events and Product Launches
Apart from selling multimillion-dollar homes and providing state-of-the-art sports facilities, many country clubs have another way of generating income: renting their community spaces. A popular use case is for business functions, and depending on the country club, this service isn’t only reserved for club members.
If startup budgets allow, a country club setting is ideal for organizing a product or service launch. Country clubs provide a professional backdrop and are fully equipped for events, with highly-trained hospitality staff on-hand to serve food and drinks.
As well as inviting business associates, startups can extend the invite to club residents and visiting members. This allows everyone on site to discover more about the startup and its founders—potentially piquing the interest of some attendees who may also have the potential to become investors.
However, suppose startups aren’t quite at the product launch stage. In that case, entrepreneurs should still keep their eyes peeled for local events like fundraisers or business mixers, as these are a great way to meet club members with an interest in business.
By slowly integrating into the club and making acquaintances with its members, startup
employees can mingle, meet influential people, and start building strong business connections.
The Winning Formula: Golf, Social Bonds, and Mentorship
Golf isn’t only for those in their golden years; many clubs like Andalusia Country Club offer a special golf program for those under 50—at a reduced membership price. So, taking advantage of similar offers is an excellent way for startups to get their foot in the door at exclusive country clubs for a discounted price.
Country clubs are perfect places to socialize and make friends. A bit of friendly competition around the green is a great way to break the ice and get chatting with residents or members. And even if startup members aren’t frequent users, the fairway, locker room, and bar are great places to talk things through and share more about the business and future plans with new friends.
From these established friendships, potential business relationships can be developed, and the right friends could even become mentors, offering priceless advice.
Still, it’s wise for startups to remember that everything good takes time. Even if they don’t form significant business relationships early on, these friendships could become invaluable later. For example, if a startup is in a tough spot and members need sound and unbiased advice, golf friends at the country club, perhaps with established and long business careers, could be the perfect people to ask, with the business relationship growing from there.
Hosts With the Most
It may be 2023, when investments and stocks can be bought and sold instantly with a few clicks of a button. But, when it comes to making important business deals, many people still appreciate being wined and dined by their new potential business partners.
Business deals primarily rely on increased profit margins, aligned values, and established friendships. Since board rooms are typically cold and impersonal spaces, breaking bread over a business lunch at a country club restaurant is the ideal place to get to know someone on a personal level without the usual workplace distractions.
A business dinner could be viewed as a game of seduction, and startups need to pull out all the stops to impress. Therefore, choosing the restaurant at the local country club is an excellent way for startups to show they mean business and have already recognized the business advantages a country club membership brings.
Startup CEOs or board members could pitch their business over a meal and afterward talk logistics as they play a round of golf with their guests—introducing them to fellow influential country club members along the way. The relaxed atmosphere of a country club allows people to unwind and get to know each other before making significant business decisions.
One company known for putting on a show is Berkshire Hathaway. Its three-day annual general meeting for shareholders is famous for its festival-like atmosphere and is commonly known as the ‘Woodstock of Capitalism.’
While individuals don’t sign business deals on the golf course, the rapport between players and establishing a business relationship is often formed along the fairway, in the gym, or over drinks at the club.
It’s time for startups to start leveraging the networking capabilities of country clubs. By investing time in building solid friendships with residents and members, startups are opening themselves up to possibilities of developing priceless personal and business relationships that lead to business success.
Article authored by Lily Blake