(Dow Jones) Perhaps the oldest prospecting technique in the book is to invite a would-be client for a leisurely round of golf, followed by a drink or two at the club. The perfect guys' outing, in other words.
But what if the would-be client is a woman? And what if she's utterly clueless about golf?
For Tracy Timmerman, an adviser with Levin Financial Group, a MassMutual affiliate in Tampa, Fla., the solution came through a partnership with Women On Course, a four-year-old organization that aims to teach women about the game in a fun, friendly way and provide networking opportunities at the same time.
Timmerman combined her prospecting with a little hands-on learning, since she was also a golf novice. "I always thought it was a man's game," said the adviser, who's been with Levin Financial since 2007.
But that made the experience all the more enjoyable--and all the more successful from a business standpoint. Timmerman wasn't showing future duffers the ropes; she was bumbling her way through a nine-hole round with them.
The Women On Course program for newbies doesn't even begin with a round of golf. Instead, participants receive lessons in golf basics (i.e., how to grip a club), golf rules and procedures (the difference between the green and the rough) and even golf etiquette (don't forget to tip the bag boy). Eventually, newcomers do get around to putting and swinging and playing a few holes, but the focus is rarely on heavy-duty competition. Instead, it's on keeping things festive. One of the program's main events is a "Nine and Wine" mixer that combines nine holes with a glass (or two) of wine.
All this makes for a casually ideal setting for Timmerman to introduce herself to a broad array of female professionals. And while Timmerman said she's careful not to mix business with pleasure, she takes advantage of the leads: So far, she estimates she has met about 250-300 prospective clients through several Women On Course events and established accounts with about 30 of them. Some of the contacts she has made are also setting her up to give financial presentations for much larger groups, including an organization for women in cable television.
Best of all: The prospecting has cost Timmerman little to nothing. That's because MassMutual has signed up as a nationwide partner with Women On Course and its affiliates host events throughout the country. "It's an exclusive sponsorship we're very pleased with," said Kelley Gay, MassMutual's senior vice president of market development.
Which is not to say that financial advisers outside MassMutual can't find other ways to welcome women onto the course. After all, golf and prospecting do go hand in hand.
"What we're doing is what men have been doing all along: We're forming relationships on the golf course," said Timmerman.
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