A hole new way to network

Networking is important for businesses now more than ever before, according to Emajin Golf founder, Raj Narayan. But not all networking environments support building meaningful, long-lasting connections. That’s where golf comes into play.

Golf and business have always gone hand-in-hand, but ex-Westpac executive Raj Narayan and her team at Emajin Golf have taken this one step further to connect business owners, executives and C-suiters on the green.

“In business, connectivity and networking are essential for success, especially in today’s highly digital world with an increasingly remote workforce,” says Narayan.

Statistics show that about 37% of job-seekers look for work by asking for referrals in their current network, and 54% of hires originate from referrals. And it’s good for business too: businesses with strong networks experience an average of 73% higher sales growth compared to businesses with weak networks, and 95% of people believe meeting in-person leads to better results than online meetings.

With both an extensive business and golfing resume, Narayan, ex-COO of Westpac Private Bank and former Women’s Captain and Board member at NSW Golf Club, has long seen the strong corporate synergy between golf, networking and business.  So, she launched Emajin Golf in January 2021, after the pandemic, with a view to drive the return to face-to-face networking, connecting business leaders and executives over a mutual love or interest in golf.

“Let’s face it: a bad day on a golf course beats a good day in the office,” Narayan says.

“In my role at Westpac, I looked after $2 billion+ market-cap organisations, and gaining access to quality time with clients who were CEOs and CFOs was no easy task. But if I’d say, ‘Would you like to play golf at one of the top courses in Australia?’, this never failed to generate interest, and we’d have four-and-a-half hours to have a great game and quality conversations.”

Emajin Golf is a corporate golf club that offers members exclusive access to Australia’s top golf courses, where they can learn from global leader presentations and grow their business community.

Raj Narayan, founder of Emajin Golf. Image source: Supplied

“I’m pleased to see that post-pandemic, in-person networking is now back in full swing, so to speak,” Narayan says. “Everyone’s a remote worker, but at the end of the day, people do business with people – they want human connection, and we’re proud to be enabling that in an innovative way.”

Since inception, Emajin Golf has since grown to host more than 7,500 golf enthusiasts and executives in its community, and 94% of its members are C-Suite executives or business owners with 69% doing business with one another. The club, which offers packages for individuals all the way to entire teams, hosts three ‘Learn’ events each month in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane where members engage with keynote speakers like Australia Post CEO Paul Graham, Metcash Group CEO Doug Jones, Xero CCO Rachael Powell or Olympic Gold Medalist Natalie Cook, as well as many casual golf rounds throughout the year and other social activities.

“Golf has always been a key part of the language of business, but at Emajin, we’ve taken this one step further and built a thriving network of growth where businesspeople at different stages of their career and golfing development can connect and bond over the universal language that is golf,” Narayan says.

Why golf? “We wanted to shift the paradigm of networking from mundane boardroom meetings to vibrant, educational and active gatherings on Australia’s most pristine golf courses,” Narayan says. “With golf, everyone gets to spend a valuable amount of time with each other which offers a real chance to build authentic connections. But it’s also a game of integrity.”

“Golf is a sport that gives you a great grasp of character. You call penalties on yourself, you learn how people react to good shots as well as bad, and show etiquette and empathy for their fellow golfers.  This means you can observe potential business partners over a long period of time, and I find that with this, you get a deeper view of someone.”

A lot of C-Suiters love the game. In fact, 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs play golf, and research shows executives who play golf earn 17% more than those who don’t.

But Emajin Golf isn’t just for experienced players. Narayan understands first-hand that golfing can often be alienating – particularly if you’re a woman – and so the club offers pathway programs for rookies to become more confident with a club and still network.

“If you can’t play golf but you want to network, that’s fine,” Narayan says. “25% of our members are non-golfers. Following each of our ‘Learn’ events, there are golf clinics, which are coached by PGA [Professional Golfers’ Association] professionals.” All equipment is provided by Emajin Golf, and members are taught the basics – like how to grip a club, how to hit the ball and perfect their swing.

“We have a very inclusive community ranging from beginners to proficient golfers, sole-preneurs to listed CEOs, small businesses to multi-million dollar enterprises,” Narayan says. “Everyone is welcome, and there’s nothing that makes me prouder than when hundreds of people turn up to our events only to say that through Emajin they’ve made hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business and made connections to last a lifetime.”

Raj’s Rich Referral recipe

Narayan shares four ways you can build a non-stop referral network, according to Narayan.

  1. R – Right People: When inviting people, be strategic. Your goal is to create a valuable community, so inviting individuals who can mutually benefit each other reflects positively on you.
  2. I – Initiative: Even at someone else’s event, take the lead in inviting or organising. This makes others talk about you, establishing your credibility and positioning you as an authority. At Emajin Golf, members often invite guests to events for this purpose.
  3. C – Create a friendly environment: Prioritize connecting over formal networking. Make sure there’s time to chat and bond, building genuine relationships is key.
  4. H – High-Quality Experiences: They enhance your personal brand, provide value and enjoyment, and naturally spark conversations. Imagine being invited to a top-notch event, like box seats at a Rugby match. This naturally leads to positive, context-rich discussions that indirectly promote you.

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