We’re now almost one year in to life with COVID-19, and the global pandemic has had an impact on just about every aspect of daily life.
As we have grown and adapted to the “new normal” at GSG, we’ve stayed focused on the positive and have tried to innovate and find new ways to stay connected while adhering to recommended social distancing measures.
One fun trend that has emerged for our Strategic Accounts team has been the resurgence of the formerly-old school Golf Meeting. Before COVID, Matt Kussman, Executive Director of Strategic Accounts & Professional Services, said it had been close to a year since he’d met any clients on the links. However, with bars and restaurants either closed or severely restricted, and most people working remotely most of the time, the golf course has become a valuable setting to catch up and connect.
I sat down with Matt to learn more about why he thinks golf has become so popular for business meetings, and he shared: “The golf course has always been a great place to meet with clients for two main reasons: First, it allows you to be outdoors and get some exercise (a huge plus after 10 months of largely being confined to staying inside). And second, the game is traditionally slow paced, which allows for a lot of conversation and dialog between shots. Whether you’re talking business, talking golf, or talking about life in general, the sport does a great job of creating space to learn about someone’s character and personality and how they approach certain things.”
Andy McDonald, Director of Strategic Accounts, agreed. “Golf has been a safe, fun outing that has allowed me to not only have longer conversations with clients about their business needs, but also to connect with them on a more personal level. Everyone I know can’t wait to get back to in-person meetings – and no one knows for sure if or when we’ll get back to how things used to be. Making it a priority to find safe ways to meet face to face has been really important to building partnerships in these trying times.”
When a trip to the golf course isn’t in the cards, our team has been finding other creative ways to meet. For another safe outdoor option, Matt said he’s met both clients and consultants at the dog park, again adding a layer of personal connection to an otherwise standard business meeting. And Kara King, Executive Director of Strategic Accounts, shared that she’s had some successful “virtual happy hours,” sending a bottle of wine in advance to her clients and raising a glass on video.
“Transitioning to video meetings took a little time to get used to, and there was definitely a little resistance at first, but now catching up over Zoom or Teams is pretty standard,” she said. “An added perk is getting to see people in their element at home – I’ve seen some clients’ kids or family members, and even got a house tour! Before COVID, I’d never been invited in on that level.”
That added layer of personal connection is something everyone here has noticed. And while video meetings are certainly different from the real thing, they have become a critical tool for building and maintaining the relationships we value so much. Andy shared, “One thing I’ve noticed is that dedicating the first 5-10 minutes of the call to checking in personally is essential. Everyone’s pandemic situation is different, and it’s been highly beneficial to spend the time sharing more personal updates.” Matt agreed, “Gone are the days when a crying baby or barking dog is a disruption or distraction – we’ve all learned that everyone has a personal life and a business life, and they are all closer together than ever which is exciting to me. It feels like everyone has become more sympathetic to one another than ever before.”
It may seem ironic that social distancing ordinances have brought us closer together, but it goes to show that when you prioritize human connection, it’s possible no matter the distance. And when video just won’t cut it… book that tee time!
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