As Canada's business executives exit the putting green, where's the next best place to network?

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Golf was once considered to be more than just a relaxing pastime. In fact, the sport was well known as a popular activity that allowed Canadian business leaders the chance to network. However, there has been recent activity (or lack of activity) that proves the putting green may no longer be the go-to place for CEOs, executives and other business elite members to talk shop. That being said, where are the next best places for executives to network?

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President of Holt Renfrew Mark Derbyshire is a perfect example of an executive who loves to golf, but just doesn’t have the time to do so due to a busy work schedule and family life. Specifically, Derbyshire enjoyed the sport while in college, but now that he works 80+ hour weeks and is raising children, it’s difficult to find the time to partake in the activity.

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And thanks to data released by the National Allied Golf Associates, it's clear that Derbyshire isn’t the only executive who’s handing in his club and balls. Just in the past few years, the number of rounds played declined in 2013 to 26,100 per course from 28,700 in 2008. The main reason behind this decline, experts say, is the fact that CEOs and company heads are too busy to devote five hours or more to a game of golf. Furthermore, due to the economy, corporate budgets rarely allow room for this expense, which was used to sometimes entertain clients.

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Derbyshire is noted for pursuing networking activities that don’t consume so much time, such as industry parties and breakfast and lunch meetings. If you too are searching for new avenues to meet and discuss business with other CEOs and executives, then the following tips may be helpful.

First things first, consider volunteering. You may be thinking that this task is just as time consuming as playing a round of golf, but it doesn’t have to be. If you find a cause that is related to your field of business, then you stand the chance of meeting others (all levels) who work in the same area as you who are also most likely looking to build connections. This is also a good method of getting the community to learn about you and your business. Remember, you only need to volunteer an hour or two a week to make a difference.

Piggybacking off of volunteering, attend or host a fundraiser. Again, this type of event will allow you the opportunity to nonchalantly advertise your company, as well as meet (usually high profile) attendees who may be able to assist you with your business endeavors.

Lastly, don’t shy away from reunions. Whether it’s a high school or college reunion, consider attending. This is a perfect way to catch up with past acquaintances and discuss your current professional life. However, if the thought of going back to school leaves you more nervous than the idea of running a board meeting, then don’t forget the basic networking events that are available by attending conferences, lunches and mixers.

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