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The Niceties of Golf

Roderick Mills

The Niceties of Golf

Several years ago, Mike Kanazawa played a pleasant round of golf with three other San Francisco area businesspeople—two of whom later became clients of his consulting firm, Dissero Partners. “We talked business some, but then we also talked about our families,” says Kanazawa, chief executive of the 20-person, $2 million company. “I wasn’t out there pumping for business.”

Golf is unique partly because it gives you so much time with a colleague, prospect, or client. “Can you imagine if I called someone up and asked to meet for five hours?” asks Jay Mona-han, executive vice-president of Boston consultants Fenway Sports Group. “With golf, that’s what you’re asking.”

Those hours together shouldn’t become a predatory quest to close the deal by the time the final putt has plopped into the 18th hole. For the most part, golf and business intertwine to build relationships—and provide a variety of signs as to who may be a suitable business partner and who may be something less. Here’s how to send the right signals.