I’ve spoken to a few business owners who are not sure if Fore Business would work for them. Is it just another networking group where everyone will just try to sell to me?
I recently joined one of their groups and wanted to share my experiences.
What is Fore Business
If you haven’t heard of Fore Business before, it is a national business/golf networking community, where members meet to network, before playing a round of golf.
Isn’t it just another networking event?
I understand the reluctance to join. There are lots of networking events and we cannot attend them all, so we need to decide where we spend our time networking. I had attended a Fore Business event a couple of years ago, but on finding out that 3 of the 12 people there were in the same business as me, I decided my time would not be better spent somewhere else. Fast forward to the end of 2017 and I’m getting ready to launch a new golf business, Competition Golf. A conversation in the car park at a golf day lead to a LinkedIn connection and then an invitation to attend a Fore Business event in Northampton. I hadn’t played the course before and after weighing up a free round of golf against an early start, I realised I had little to lose.
The day arrived
I turned up just after 7 am and it was still dark, no lights were on in the clubhouse and I wondered if I was at the right place. I was thinking about how I would get out through the key-code protected security barriers when other cars started arriving. I headed inside to find a warm welcome from the 2 members that were busy setting things up and they pointed me in the direction of a hot cup of coffee and soon after, a bacon roll. The morning was looking up! I have been to a variety of networking events before and had an idea of what to expect: People come in, say hello to the people they already know and then look for the new faces to start selling to.
Here we go
People started to arrive and say hi to the people they knew and after a few glances my way, the first person headed my way. I was asked lots of questions, such as: Where do you live? Where do you play golf? What’s your handicap? Have you played this course before? Do you realise this is one of the UK’s top 100 courses? But…the hard sell didn’t come! After a few more people had introduced themselves, I realised that nobody was trying to sell anything to me, they just wanted to find out about me and what I did.
We were all asked to find a seat at one of the tables and events got underway. After an introduction about the day, everyone on the table got 60 seconds to say who they are what they do. There was then a table swap and another 60 seconds to introduce yourself and your business to a different group of people. Lots of names and businesses to try to remember and before I knew it, time was up and we were heading out on to the golf course.
Out on the course
We were halfway around the course before I realised I wasn’t sure what everyone in our 4-ball did! Sure, we had been talking all the way around, but we were talking about golf and not talking about business. This might sound like it is a waste of time, after all, I am here to network, but I was making a better connection with 3 business owners than I could ever hope to do with an ‘elevator pitch’ and a quick swap of business cards.
Back in the clubhouse and I found that although I hadn’t been given the hard sell, people wanted to talk to me as they knew someone I should speak to. I came away with a couple of leads and no hard sell from anyone. This was when I realised that Fore Business was different. Not only was it an excuse to play golf, but it was a great way to get to know other business owners in a totally different way.
The cost/benefit calculation
As I am launching a golf business (www.competitiongolf.com), this would give me a great chance to network with golfers, so I took the plunge and joined on the lowest tier of membership (£55 per month), thinking I would give it a try and see what happens.
Northamptonshire County Golf Club is a fabulous course, with a green fee of £75 per visitor. Joining Fore Business would give me monthly access to one event and a four-ball, both at my nominated club. That is £375 worth of golf that I would get included in my £55 membership fee! As an added bonus, it is a justifiable business expense.
Membership also gives you access to the Fore Business App. I know that access to an app doesn’t sound like much, but it offers access to all of the other members, including the ability to see who is offering spaces in their 4-ball. Yes, not only do you get your 4-ball, other members offer space in theirs too, allowing you to play other courses whilst networking! The app also lets you post business opportunities for other members to see. A quick look through the offers and I can see all sorts of different deals, from people needing a good deal on a new vehicle to looking for a commercial decorator. It is obvious that there are a lot of business referrals going on within the group.
Does it work
I posted a couple of deals on the app, looking for suppliers, and within a few days had been talking to people from various groups all over the UK. Not only did I find what I was looking for, but the members I had been speaking to all seemed genuinely interested in finding out more about me and my business. Within a couple of days, several of them were coming back to me with details of people they thought I should speak to.
I am so impressed that in my first month of membership I jumped up to the next membership tier and I am now a Flexi-member. For an extra £10 a month, I get all of the original benefits plus, each month I can go to one other group, anywhere in the country! That’s 90 different courses, with over 1,600 members that I now have access to.
The people I have met have all been friendly and interested in me and my business. As with any networking, it takes time to build strong relationships, but the initial responses I have had mean that I am proud to be a member of Fore Business.
So now you know more about it, what is stopping you from joining Fore Business?