Monthly Archives: March 2006

Network Groups: Where are they going?

If you are in business you probably have gone to a Network Group gathering and had given your ‘one minute commercial’ (OMC).  If you have been in business for a real long time you probably have given your OMC in your sleep.Have you ever looked back to how many times you have told someone, or a group of people, your one-minute spill on what you do for a living?  Have you thought about how many times you have changed your OMC for whatever reason?  If you are like me you have several written versions of your OMC.  And after writing them down, I would time them to see how long it takes to read it.  Then I would read it out loud and usually it would takes about 10 seconds longer.  I found that on average an effective OMC is less than 200 words.  After listening to some of the people from the far northeast deliver their OMC the average words per minute increases to nearly 500 words.  Me, since I am from
Texas I am usually asked to sit down after 150 words. 
It really disturbs me to look back on all of the time I spent processing all of the information about my business into one minute.  Hell it takes me five seconds just to say my name and the name of my business.  It is even more disturbing to think about all of the other people out there who have been doing them for a lot longer period of time than I have. 

Well, I am here to tell you that the method of standing up in front of complete strangers to deliver your OMC is changing. But, don’t run off and delete your OMC files yet.  Just celebrate the fact that having to stand up and give them is over.  Can I have an Amen; the One Minute Elevator Speech is finally DEAD. Yes, I am catching a lot of crap from the traditional business network group’s leaders who feel the OMC is part of the entertainment value of their group and if it wasn’t for the OMC they would have no idea what anyone that came to the meeting was there for.  Scary thought in itself..  What also is disturbing is the fact that these guys and gals get off listing to how 80% of the people in the room want your money and the remaining 20% want to invest it.  Truth be known, most of the network groups leaders who are challenging me are more worried about losing the members annual membership fee than the OMC.  These dinosaurs of the traditional business networking world will in a few months be the people that are sitting at Denny’s wondering why nobody showed up.  So, I hope they are reading, because here is what they need to know to make the change.  

To coin a phrase from an up and coming successful online group I am a member of, the traditional style networking groups ‘Suck’.  When I say they Suck, I mean they serve little, if any, purpose other then taking up huge amount of time in an effort to try to do all for everyone.  And doing it pathetically…Plus, they do this over and over and over again every other week and in some cases every week. The next generation of Business Networking will not involve standing up and presenting your one-minute commercial to a groups of complete strangers.  Or, even worst, giving the OMC to the same group of people you gave it to last week.In my previous article I wrote about the different methods of Business Networking being used today.  So, for the rest of the second of my three articles I will run down some of the basic history of online business networking groups and what the next step is going to be.   

Over the past 10 years there has been a huge increase in the number of business people who are joining online networking groups.  Huge meaning the number of groups are in the tens of thousands worldwide.  Today’s business people want to find ways to market themselves that are time effective and more productive.  To get there they are going ONLINE.  Yes, to the Internet.  Just the word Internet scares the old-timer networkers who are still are out there trying to hang their hat on obscured facts like; ‘the Internet is a waste of time since only 15% of the population has access to the internet’.  I don’t think some of them have changed the pages on their wall calendars since 1999.   The fact is, they refused to get on board with the technology era when it started and are having a real hard time dealing with the power the internet has in business today.  Yes, dealing with change is hard for these guys and gals.The bottomline here is online networking covers a lot of bases all at once.   

In the beginning online networking groups were formed for a number of reasons, but the main one was so business people could manage their time more effectively.  Before online groups there were no emails, the fax machine was state of the art technology and the only way to get noticed in the business world was to spend a lot of money with newspaper and yellow pages advertising.    The concept of online networking began when the Internet became accessible to anyone who had a PC.  Groups were formed with business people signing-up to be a member of the group, which included building a profile on who they are and what they do for a living.   This information was posted on the site for other members and the world to review.  Then the members sat back, send a few emails and made relationships over the internet.  Chat Rooms were developed for niche groups that wanted to gather people with common interests together to talk shop.  Things were hunky-dory for a few years and then growth caught up with these groups.The online business networking groups that started the craze grow to be huge mega sites with hundreds of thousands of people signing up.  Since the membership was open to the world, members were coming in from all over the world.  With growth came problems and problems generated inquires to the founders and creators of these mega groups.  So many inquiries and emails to the creators of the groups were made each day they had to put up buffers to slow down the number of emails they were getting.  In most cases the creators and founders farmed out the contacts for the emails or developed canned replies in place of actual personal feedback.  This caused the founders and creators of the groups to disconnect from their membership and lose touch with who was a member of their group.  Even with this growth and the problems it crated things were working.  Lots of people were talking and discussion about business was part of the building of the new business community.Things were rolling along pretty good until starting in 2002 up to mid 2004 the Spammers found that these groups were the happy hunting grounds for marketing pornography, pharmaceuticals and other products EVERYONE wanted to buy…NOT!.  This is still happening today but not nearly as bad as it was during this period of time.  For nearly a year spammers were farming email addresses from business people web-sites, which started relentless emailing of unwanted solicitation to millions of people all at once.   The shear volume of the unwanted information took it toll on these huge sites.Yes, there was damage to these groups, but the founders who did not disconnect from their groups learned to better manage their memberships.  In the sites where the creators and founders disconnected from the group the damage spammers caused was severe and resulted in their servers being filled with thousands of abandoned membership profiles and sub-groups.Now, things have changed.  There is SPAMware, Spyware, heavy duty firewalls and array of defensive programs people can load on their computers that are doing a pretty good job sending spam off into never-ever-land.  And in the Online networking world, well, things are getting back to normal.Things in the online business networking world are not all bad.  And there are a few groups on the internet that are getting close to being worth while.  But, there are still some potholes out there business people need to avoid. 

I’ll be back in a little in a while to breakdown how the major players in online business networking work and the David and Goliath story that is developing amongst some of the newer sites that don’t Suck…  Stay Tuned.

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Network Groups: The One Minute Commercial Is Dead!

I have spent the last two years looking at the way Network Groups are run, the businesses who attend them and the business that develops.  I have done more than 100 one-on-one meetings, which is way below average for most business networkers so is not real impressive, but what I got out of the conversations validates the points I will make.

Let me start with describing the different types or styles of networking groups that are out there and are developing.

The Meal Ticket Groups:  These are the traditional mainstay old fashion approaches to capturing business people over a meal in hopes they will purge themselves of sales leads and business connections while shoving a chicken leg down their neck.  I called the groups who meet for breakfast, lunch or dinner the Meal Ticket Groups because generally you have to be invited to attend by someone who is a member of the group and they generally provoke you to attend my telling you they will buy your lunch…the meal ticket.. 

The history behind this style of networking meeting is they were organized to appease to the business people, who are mostly sales people that have daily sales quotas to meet, business people who cannot (or even worst, will not) manage their business day or business owners who have so many operational problems that they cannot get away from the office longer than the time it takes to eat breakfast or lunch.   The business people who like the breakfast’s state they like to get the networking out of the way early so it does not interrupt them getting started with dealing with problems for the rest of the day.  The same goes with the Lunch networking meeting being the only time they can get away from the office and need a break from dealing with problems.  The Dinner Networking is probably the best of the meal networking meetings but usually is not well attended due to business people either wanting to deal with late day problems or wanting to get home for family time.   But, the dinner meetings do provide a calmer group to network with since it allows the members of the group to relax, have a glass of wine and visit. 

The bottomline: Most of these meetings formulated around the meal as a draw thinking that it would let business people kill two birds with one stone…eat and meet.  But, from the conversations I have had with these networkers it seemed that a lot of businesses out there that cannot manage their time or know how to set up their operations where problems are taken care of or become non-existing so can spend as much time as they need to networking.   There is a way, but I will have to discuss how to this is done in another article.

The Boardroom Networking Groups:  This version of business networking popped up a couple of years ago and provided some needed optimism in the business networking arena until the leaders of these groups made an unwise attempt to make boardroom networking a profitable business.  But, this kind of meeting, where a small group of people gather in a Non-meal related boardroom atmosphere, provides for a more business approach to networking.   The boardroom feel fit well with the business executives and others who wear three piece suits everyday even if they done have a reason to, or need to.   

Bottomline:  This is a great way business people to get their message across to other people without having to break the ice by asking for someone to pass the pepper sauce or if they have any Zantacs.

The Social Networking Groups:  This gathering of business people in a social style is probably the most effective.  These groups are close to being a Dinner Networking groups but veer off from serving a meal by organizing social outings like wine tasting, horse racing, culinary classes or other gathers that naturally lend to promoting a sharing atmosphere.  Social Networking Groups (SNG’s) are relatively a new and refreshing approach to networking.  The SNG work well as a by-product of the even more effective and very popular online business networking groups that are being created across the country.  The SNG draws in all types of business and generally produces a more quality business connection.  Bottomline: The SNG, managed correctly, is the direction business networking needs to go. And  I LIKE THE SNG’s.

What is common with all of these groups, and will be the death to all business networking groups, is they mandate a One Minute Commercial to be given by each person who attends any of these styles of networking meetings.    What a bunch of crap… Even in the case of the boardroom meetings that provide a full five minutes, if you have heard one financial advisers spill you have heard them all.  In some cases it might even be best that in the large groups that the leaders ask that all financial advisors get on one side of the room and provide their one minute spill in ocopela.  And the Real Estate agents get on the other side and mime their pitch to the insurance agents.  At least that would provide the rest of the group who do not have large marketing budgets with some entertainment.

The traditionalists who keep this type of networking groups alive are not very innovative and feel that a one-minute commercial is the only way to effectively find out what the person does or provides the business world.  I hope they put the lid down when they got through thinking that approach out.

As far as the groups that mandates the requirement of each member to produce a sales lead to keep their membership.  I call this the one-two knockout punch to the group, the one-minute commercial and the mandated sale leads.  Why do they do this? In the interviews I have with members and leaders of the mandated sales leads groups they feel that it is a complete waste of their time if they are not produced with a positive sales lead at each weeks meeting.   In reviewing these individuals business I find that their profit margins are so small that they can not produce a profit until they produce large volumes of sales.  All of this is due to a saturation of the market they are in business for and having to reduce their profit margins to compete.   Most of these guys and gals live for the pleasure of the deal and really have lost touch with how to treat people.

Bottomline: These groups have to change and purge the groups of members who do not like change or cannot (or again, do not want to) change.

The concept of Business Networking has to change before there will ever be any improvement or before more viable business people who representing the entire economy will attend these groups. There are a number of options these groups need to consider and the main one is to drop the one-minute commercial.  It does not produce anything including information about the person’s business.  All it does is force the person to demean their business by having to come up with catchy slogans and phrases that does noting to improve their business image.  Why do I say this?  Because I have done the one-minute commercial so many times I get bored with it.  And if I am bored so are the people that have to hear it, especially if they are the same people I presented it to the last time we met.  And as the groups get smaller the problem gets worst.

In other words the One-Minute Commercial is dead and will kill the group if the leaders do not find other ways to tell people who attend the meetings what the others in attendance do for a living.  A very simple solution to a cancerous problem.

Why do I say the One-Minute Commercial is dead?  Well, it primarily is due to about 90% of the people who do them do not have a clue on how to do them effectively and the 10% who do know how usually provide information on a service or product that is better advertised by the media advertisement and means better suited to their business than at a networking group.

 

Bottomline:  What kills a networking group is lack of growth and the businesses that lay claim to the group.  Why is there lack of growth with all of the start-up businesses and new businesses?  In the many conversations I have had with business people I have met in networking groups I find that they are either just joined the group or leaving the group.  The reason they just joined the group is that the other groups they were in had the same people every week and more Financial Advisors, Insurance Agents, MLM’s and Real Estate Agents represented in the group than any other kind of business in the group.  Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends golfing partners are FA’s, Insurance agents and real estates. (Do I have to say why I don’t have any MLM’S as frineds?)

Those people leaving the group were tired of speaking to the same group of people and hearing (or in most cases, getting repeatedly hit on for sales leads) the same one-minute commercials by the same business.  Seems this is the nature of the beast when it comes to networking groups, but can change by getting rid of the One Minute Commercial.  Take that away and put the information in writing for all who attend to review while they eat, or after they get back to their office, would be much more productive than sitting in a room with 100 business people each giving a one minute commercial.  Come on!  Even I, who had been in the business world for more than 30 years, know it is 2006, and there are many, many other ways to get your message across than standing up and filling the air for a minute. 

So, someone write the eulogy for this type of business networking because the One-Minute Commercial Is Dead…  

I’ll be back later to talk about Online Business Networking, the future of Business Networking.  Stay tuned…

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Golfers: It Is Charity Golf Time

Do not miss out on the 8th Annual Screen Door Open Charity Pro-AM Golf Tournament.  Registration has begun.

Why play in this tournament?  Well, is Not Just Another Charity Golf Tournament

Why?

The format is SHAMBLE, not the hit and giggle scramble.

Your team gets a member of the Northern Texas PGA to play on your team.  So, you got a coach

There will ONLY be 28 teams playing.  SO there will not be one of those 7 hour golf fiascos.

And the SDO is one of only two events that the junior golfers are present.  The boys and girls from the junior golf programs supported by the SDO Pro-Am will be placed around the course and will be the amateurs 5th player on those holes.

And, if all of this is not enough, there is the annual SDO Silent Auction that is held immediately after play ends.

OK, that still doesn’t do it.  Well, then there is the FOOD.  Yes, real food.  No rubber chicken or B-B-Q buffets.  We are talking an awards program banquet suited to an officially sanctioned PGA event.

Come on. Sign up your team up today.

For registration go to

www.screendooropen.org or call 214 549-0306.  Sponsorship packages are also available.

 

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Seminar or Workshop

Since I will soon be launching a series of Seminar/Workshops across the nation my business coaches tell me that I need to decide on if my message is going to be delivered as a Seminar or Workshop.

I know that a seminar is when you go sit and listen and you get a head full of thoughts to take home and tryout. And, a Workshop is where you sit and take notes or work in a workbook gathering experience from doing some exercises. Yes, this would make each of them different.

But, since I am doing both in the same session, wouldn’t that be a seminar/workshop?At first I considered being innovative, like my business is all about, and call them Semshops or Workinar’s. But that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

I realize business people need comforting in knowing what they are getting involved with before they get involved. Since they are paying to go, I can see their need to know.

Same goes for me when someone invites me to play in a golf tournament or golf outing. I now ask, OK, is it a tournament or an outing. There is a big difference, especially today with so many people trying to conduct business while playing golf.

I admit, if I am paying to play in a tournament, I am expecting to really have to bear down and chit-chat might not be what others want to do.

But, if I am asked to join a group for a nice round of golf, I am sure there will be a game or two played, but on the most part, it wanted be like the grind you play in a tournament and generally the players are more laid back and open to visiting with each other.

In Business Golf most of the time the golf that is played is called an OUTING. OH, there is MUCH, MUCH more to business golf than just throwing together an outing and if you don’t know How To Play Business Golf, you run a chance of ruining a perfect opportunity to make a difference for your business. But, you would have to come to my Seminar/Workshop to get the details.

Tournaments are far too stuffy for business golf and people’s feelings get hurt if it is called a tournament and find out that everyone is playing for the fun of it, which is what an Outing is about.

So, tournaments are held for when you are playing golf without business, or Non-Business Golf. This not to say that you can’t have a tournament with Business Golf, you just need to tell all that is what you are doing, which is what I show you have to do in my seminar/workshops.

So, I guess calling my seminar/workshop would be like telling a golfer that we are playing a outing/tournament. Kinda confusing, isn’t it?

So, being innovative, here is what I am going to do. I am going to call my How To Play Business Golf Seminar & Workshop, since the first part of the day is lecture and the rest is instruction on How To Play Business Golf, I think I have it covered.

Come learn how to secure your customer and employee base while building solid business relationships in my How To Play Business Golf Seminar & Workshops. Hope they will be held at a country club in your area. Contact me if you, your organization or company would like to have my seminar held in your community.

Scot Duke

Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC

 

http://www.innovativebusinessgolf.com

 

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Bartering: Good/Bad?

Barter is the simplest form of commerce and in some cases it can be just as profitable as CASH.  Here is a way I have used barter (there are businesses out there that do this as their business, so contacting one of them might be an option also).

 

I had a friend that needed my counsel on improving his business image; he was a start up and was self funded so there was no budget to do anything until he got a cash flow going.   His business was to build web-sites for large corporations.  And that was the extent of the technical portion of his business I understood.  He wanted to build a web-site for me in exchange of me helping him learn how to play with the big boys.

 

I didn’t need a web-site at the time, but I took him up on the offer since I did know someone who did.  I asked what the exchange rate would be for his service of building a site.  We agreed upon the amount and I started to work.

 

I picked up the phone and told my friend that I had a way for him to get into a web-site and laid on him a cash deal that was an amount a little above the exchange value my new client had agreed upon.

 

 I provided the consulting service to my client and ask my client to provide my friend with a web-site.  He did, my friend paid me in CASH. (And yes, for you CPA’s and TAX Lawyers out there, I did report it.)  The result was that my client did get out on the golf course with one of the IT manages for a firm he was targeting.

 

So, in this case bartering worked for me and for him.

 

But most of the time it doesn’t, so cash works for me also… I am sure others have their experiences to share on Bartering, good or bad.  

 

 

Scot Duke

President

Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.

scot.duke@innovativebusinessgolf.com

www.innovativebusinessgolf.com

 

‘My Blog’ http://businessgolf.blogspot.com

 

Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…

http://www.innovativebusinessgolf.com/business_golf/cb_order.html

 

 

 

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NO! It Is A Good Word

How many times have you had someone recently tell you they want to help with a charity or volunteer to join in a cause to improve the community and when it came time to do what they volunteered for they don’t show-up, return calls, answer emails or make any contact?

Kinda of a long winded questions, but it is worth asking. Is it only happening to me or what?

No it is not. I am finding more and more people who get involved with a charity and then for unknown reasons they don’t show-up for meetings, return phone calls and answer emails. Why? Who knows?

Saying ‘sorry, I cannot do what I signed up for’ is much better than just ignoring the obligation.

This is happening all over the place, and the reason is becoming apparent. In a recent case a number of people sign-up through an online volunteer clearinghouse that lists all for the charity organizations in an area needing help. The information is clear on what they will be volunteering for and the time commitment they will work. The online site even provides warning on not committing to an organization if they have no intention of committing to what they need done. They even let them sent test questions to the leaders of the charity groups to find out more details on what exactly they will be doing.

A lot of time is spent in preparing for these volunteers assignment. A lot rides on these volunteers doing what they signed up to do.

None the less, over 85% of the people who sign up with this charity never came to the first of a series of meetings on the assignment. Or went to the meeting, signed up for a crucial assignment and was never heard from again.

The problem is growing across the country. Why do people do this?

In one case the organization was on the verge of collapse and having to cancel its event because they had signed up all of the volunteers they needed and a month before the event could not get in touch with any of the volunteers. Being nearly too late to recruit more volunteers, and having spent their budget on volunteer items, they decided to find out why their volunteer ditched the event. They had other volunteers make contact by phone to the delinquent volunteers to find out why they ditched their assignment.

Out of the 15 volunteers, 10 said that they did not want to seem to be negative and let the organizers know they were no longer interested, figuring that not answering the phone or email would result in them finding someone else to fill their spot. Two others reported that they figured that the organization has back-ups to every position so their spot would be filled by back ups. The remaining three felt their commitment to the charity was last in priority after their job, family and leisure time. They did not feel they had any obligations to contact the organization to let them know they were not returning or were not interest in the organization.

Is there an answer to this question or a solution to this growing problem? There is, but it takes more energy than it is worth. But, one of the solutions I suggest be used is to get the volunteers to make a commitment deposit and sign a commitment letter. In this letter it states that if they for any reason after they sign the letter are not able to perform the duties they forfeit the $xx they placed in escrow. It doesn’t get the live bodies needed for the charity event, but it does raise funds if they do not show up. Plus it also weeds out the people who are just fishing around for something that will give them something for nothing.

And, yes, there are charity groups out there that play the game of if they need 10 volunteer they round up 100 and budget money to get each one of the volunteers all something like tee shirts, golf shirts and other expensive goodies for volunteering. They get this even if they never show up for the event.

It goes back to getting the volunteers commitment. They would not mind at all putting down a deposit of money if they knew that their money was going to be paid back once they finished their assignment. And they get the goodies and stuff from the event.

To take several steps further back, the whole problem would have been averted if the volunteers would have just said No, at the time they signed up. No! Is Not A Bad Word.

There are too many people out there who do not want to bring on an image of being a bitch or bastard by saying NO to a charity. Give the charity a break and insure your image of not being bad by telling the truth and not signing up if you are not going to commit. The world will be a much better place…

Scot Duke

President

Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.

scot.duke@innovativebusinessgolf.com

www.innovativebusinessgolf.com

Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…

http://www.innovativebusinessgolf.com/business_golf/cb_order.html

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Charity Golf Tournaments & Business Networking: Sign-up for Only Good Ones.

I spend a lot of time talking to people, who are in business or in general, on the benefits of golf as a business tool. Seems others are talking lot about it, but are not clearly explaining HOW to use Golf as a Business Networking Tool.

It is simple, you can either just make a tee time at your favor golf course and take a shot at getting hooked up with another golfer who is in business, or…

Find a Charity Golf Tournament to get involved with…

Most of the time the Charity Golf Tournament route is more productive.

But, you still need to know how to play Business Golf. This does not mean you have to play golf, just know how to play Business Golf. There is a difference.

Golf is the best way to network what you do. And where else do business golfers go to play business golf, to Charity Golf Tournaments. There is no other event where you are going to get an audience with someone for four hours or longer?

But before you get the newspaper out or crank-up the search engine to find a Charity Golf Tournament you need to keep in mind that you want to get involved with a GOOD charity golf tournament.

There is nothing worst than volunteering to help a charity golf tournament, invite all of your business associates to come and play and the event sucks. 7 hour rounds of golf, bad food and no sign of the charity the funds are raised for are all killers to people who play business golf.

Even if you are out for the social aspects of the golf event, if it sucks, the negative impression will run off on you.

So, find a good charity golf tournament.

How can you tell if it is good? Ask the tournament director how many players or teams they are going to put on the course. If they say 36 or more teams (or 144 players) in the morning and another 30 teams in the evening, high tail it as fast as you can. These events are the coffin nails for businesses and for volunteers.

Why? Most courses cannot not take that many players safely and since there are at least two teams on each hole, which means each team is going to have to wait for the group in front of them after every shot… the killer of golf tournaments.

Pick one that has 28 teams (112 golfers) or less. They are easier to manage, the players are much, much happier since they get to enjoy the day.

Also ask what they are going to serve for food. If they are getting the food donated from Joe’s B-B-Que, get away quick. Most golfers who take time away from the office and spend an inflated entry fee expect more than mid to lower levels of food.

If the event is serving a buffet inside the clubhouse where everyone gets to sit at a nice decorated table with silverware, the mood is happier and the reflection on you inviting them to the event is positive. Make that sales call a little easier when you call them after the event.

Ask if the charity the funds are raised for is going to be at the event. Usually, business people like to schmooze with the charity people to show their community involvement. If the charity is not going to be there other than to get the check, expect the awards program to suck. Again, another bad reflection on you by the people you invited to play.

If the Charity Golf Tournament has a silent auction, here is where you want to be. Usually the Silent Auction is the staging area for the golfers to have drinks and cool down after the round. The BUSINESS NETWORKING is heavy here. IF the golf tournament has a silent auction, get involved with that group.

So, yes, Golf is a great way to network your business, even if you are not a golfer..

Here is one of the best charity golf tournaments in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Screen Door Open Charity Pro-AM Golf Tournament

June 5, 2006

Las Colinas Country Club

Irving, Texas

An officially PGA sanctioned Pro-AM. Raises funds for junior golf programs.

For more information go to www.screendooropen.org

Scot Duke

President

Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.

scot.duke@innovativebusinessgolf.com

www.innovativebusinessgolf.com

‘My Blog’ http://businessgolf.blogspot.com

Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…

http://www.innovativebusinessgolf.com/business_golf/cb_order.html

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