It's that time of year - the weather is great, the sun is warm, and no one wants to be stuck in the office if they can avoid it. When you request a meeting, you're offered 3 different tee times. But what if you don't golf?
I don't golf, though not for lack of trying. There are few things I'm worse at than games requiring hand-eye cooperation! The first time my daughter beat me at mini golf, she was 5. She's not an athlete, either; I'm just really that bad.
If I wanted to go for a walk with a client in a beautifully-kept park to talk business without golf clubs, they'd say "no." Golfing takes 2 or three hours - a wonderful amount of time to blend casual and business conversation, and deepen the professional bond that will flourish for years. We non-golfers can have the same access to our clients, but it takes a little creativity.
First of all, no matter your gender, witnessing sporting events is always a good way to bond and talk business in an outdoor setting. Baseball games are a favorite, since there's lots of quiet down time between scoring and great plays. Grab a copy of Baseball for Dummies, learn your details, and get out there.
Also, there are a variety of charity and arts events in the spring through the summer. Symphony concerts, outdoor art shows, ballet and dance recitals, garden shows, sailing - there is more to great weather than golf. Any circumstance that can qualify as networking and have enough quiet time to deliver your pitch will work. Try to pair the event to the client, and offer a friendly afternoon.
n the short term, if you're offered golf, counter with a pre-game lunch request, claiming an impossible schedule that day, and hope for the best. In the long term, establish a couple of hobbies that you can substitute for golf to give you the access that you need. Your competition may be golfing, but you can compete, and you won't need to work on your putting.