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Finessing the Game

Business social situations come in a wide variety. While Chamber of Commerce mixers, office parties, corporate sales events, and business meals typically come to mind, invitations to attend a sporting event are also part of the business social repertoire. Even though you don’t associate a hockey game with being “on business time,” you still represent your business. Your actions can and will have an impact on the relationship between not only you and the client but also your company and the client. When that invitation to a game or match comes, you can increase the opportunity for making the outing a success by focusing on the following seven tips:

  1. Learn about the game ahead of time. You may not know anything about basketball, but if you are invited to attend a March Madness game, familiarizing yourself with the basics of the game will make the event more enjoyable for you. If you already know a lot about baseball and you are invited to a baseball game, great. But if this is your first time watching hockey or baseball or cricket, take some time to learn the basics of the game before you attend the event.
  2. Dress appropriately. While the dress code for the event probably isn’t business formal, it probably isn’t a jeans and t-shirt event either. Business casual clothes that are neat and clean will probably be appropriate. If in doubt, ask the person inviting you for advice on what to wear. Remember you can always dress it down, but it’s difficult to dress it up once you’re there.
  3. Arrive on time. Better yet, arrive a few minutes early. There’s nothing more frustrating to fans than someone who climbs over them while the action is going on. And starting out having to apologize for your tardiness puts a damper on building the relationship, which is why you are there.
  4. Cheer; don’t jeer. Negative cheering—jeering—is rude and unacceptable. Shouting encouragement is great, but derogatory comments toward players or referees or coaches are not.
  5. Eat moderately and follow the one drink rule. Remember that the main purpose of being at the game is to connect with your host(s) not see how much you can eat. And too much alcohol can lead to embarrassing situations for which you’ll have to apologize the next day. The only way to be sure to avoid an embarrassing situation is to follow the one drink rule.
  6. Don’t talk business unless your host does. Your host has invited you. It’s up to him or her to initiate any business talk, not you. Your host may see the event as an opportunity to get to know you better.
  7. Thank your host twice. Be sure to thank your host when you part ways after the event. Then you should send a second thank you the next day—a handwritten note, sent in the mail is the best way to express your appreciation.

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