As I’m sure comes
as no surprise to anybody who has seen my LinkedIn stream of late, I do play a
little bit of golf.  And this is
something I’ve done since I was 11 or 12 years old and now I’m playing, dare I
say it, as much golf as I have done for at least 10 years anyway.  Maybe I certainly got a little bit more getting golf
in at university, but certainly over the years with life getting in the way and
as a lot of you will know that family and life generally makes activities that
take four hours often quite difficult. 

So, I’m sure you’re
asking yourself how I can manage to get a game every two weeks in and it
actually be work.  The perception that I
obviously have to maintain a little bit of clarity on is that it is work.  It’s very much seen as work from me and
thankfully seen that way by my wife and the team, that as much as I’m out
playing golf, I’m bringing in work into the business.  And now obviously for years there’s been the
running joke that a lot of business is done on the golf course.  I think that has always been the case in the
past, as it was a good place to have a four-hour meeting and congregate with
other business people.  I think in
interim years, where business changed over the last few years, the
opportunities to network have taken place in a different way – the bacon sandwich
and a coffee kind of networking has taken over a lot of that.  I think the perception of networking is very
much a thing now of a couple of hours of talking to loads of people, handing
out business cards pre-Covid. 

Thankfully for
me, I took some advice from Michael Stewart ( askmjs ), who invited me back in 2013/2014
to have a look at Fore Business as a fantastic networking opportunity.  We’ve played golf together for years and
Michael was one of the early adopters of Fore Business in Yorkshire and he
always said that it was a fantastic opportunity for me and my business to grow
both in my local area but also on a national scale.  And as much as I love the idea of playing
golf and classing it as work and having to deal with all of the, ‘Ah yeah,
you’re working again,’ kind of thing, it didn’t quite fit logistically for me
and my family.  I had a young daughter at
the time (I still have a daughter but she’s not so young anymore!) and just the
logistics of it didn’t quite work.  Now
fast forward a few years and business changes and life changes.  And now, over the last two years, I’ve
engrossed myself in Fore Business and really pushed that as my main networking
opportunity every month. 

At this point I have to thank Andrew Biggs for the support, work and friendship over the last 18 months. Both on and off the golf course he has proved to be amazing for me and my business….all from thaie fairways!!

As a lot of
Sean and Arron’s merchandising says, ‘It’s a no-brainer’ and it’s safe to say
that that is the case for me.  At a
minimum, I get two games of golf in directly related to Fore Business.  So that’s two four-hour meetings with
like-minded business people on the golf course, not really talking business,
not really talking golf, talking anything but most of the time.  But just building relationships and that has
been key to how I’ve had a 2,209%  ROI this calendar year.  ROI just on Fore Business and that also
accounts for a significant percentage of my income this calendar year. 

That said, it’s not
easy.  Obviously, like any networking
opportunity – and that’s all it is, it’s an opportunity – it’s the platform,
it’s the scaffolding around potential.  And
they always say, you only get out what you put in and I’ve kind of dived in
with both feet; I’ve got contacts all over the UK and actually abroad on the
back of this, so I do commit a little bit of time every week to that networking
that isn’t totally associated with the four-hour sessions.  If I was only playing golf with this, if I
was only going for those four-hour meetings and not doing the rest of the
engagement and not helping out here there and everywhere with everybody else,
would I get the same returns?  Of course
I wouldn’t, but that’s the same with any networking.  If you just turn up for your bacon sandwich
and a coffee at other networking and you sit in a corner and eat your bacon
sandwich and drink your coffee, all you got out of it was a bacon sandwich and
a coffee.  For you to engage, you need to
follow up things, you need to talk to people and build those

Now, that’s not to
say I need to be playing more golf than I am. 
I think that would be a challenge for the business but it means that I
need to be making sure that on the likes of LinkedIn, on the likes of the national
WhatsApp groups and these Zoom get-togethers, that I’m seen and I’m active and
I’m out there.  So when any photography
work does come in, I’m not necessarily the first on people’s list because obviously
there are other photographers in the network, but I’m up there and people are
aware of the type of things that I do to help them with their business. 

Now, is this the
right networking for everybody?  Is this
the thing that’s going to change your business? 
I can only ever talk about my business and for me it’s been an absolute
game-changer.  That massive percentage of
work that’s come from it, ROI-wise even, is significantly justifying
itself.  A lot of this depends on what
you do for a living.  Your business is
your business and every business has that niche that means that the networking
that you do will be better in certain places than others.  Simply put, as a photographer, a lot of the
business owners that I meet on the golf course need photography for either
their staff or for their new products and new lines that are coming out so there’s
a direct need for that.  If my business
was selling golf-related equipment, it’s obviously a fantastic connection.  

So, there’s no way
I would say to every single business, “You should be all going to play golf and
making a big effort to be the best golfer you can be, because this is a
definite return on investment.”  For me,
it’s been an absolute no-brainer.  For
you, if you’ve got that little itch as a golfer from the past, that we all
have, to get back into the game and you think that your business could benefit
and could fit well with this global network that the Fore Business has
developed, it’s certainly worth looking at and if it’s something that you want
to have a chat about, I’m obviously more than happy to chat about it.  My home base is the Sunderland Group, we do a
lot of work regionally with the Newcastle Group and the Darlington Group, but
also I know people across all of the UK. 
And if you are a business, or anywhere in the UK that’s reading this, I’m
more than happy to have a chat and put you in touch with your local ambassadors,
that are more than happy to have a chat with you and advise you on where’s a good
opportunity to have a game of golf, on something like the Golden Ticket Scheme,
where you get a free game of golf, the free and other access to the wider
networks.  For a month, for free, which isn’t
bad, is it? 

So yeah, most weeks
I get a lot of conversations on LinkedIn around, “You’re getting a lot of golf
in.  Are you a professional golfer these
days?” whenever I share anything about Fore Business.  Is that enough to put me off playing as much
golf as I do?  Of course it isn’t, this
is a fantastic way of playing golf for my business and bringing business
in.  If it wasn’t making money, I
wouldn’t be doing it.  Because I couldn’t
– there’s no way I could justify networking two lots of four hours a month and
not make a significant return on investment. 
We’re all in this for one reason.  We’re all in business for different reasons,
but ultimately it still has to be a business and not a hobby.  And I think if that was a hobby – if the golf
turned into the business and the business turned into a hobby, I think my wife
would be having words with me.  So remember
this is a business decision and very much one that I will be continuing to grow
again both locally and nationally – to just figure out what amazing doors can
open for me and my business, both through hitting a small white ball around a
field and having a bit of fun.

Let’s have a chat if you are a golfer or know a golfer!! 

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