Not too long ago, I was in the ring with a new sparring partner. He looked athletic and was about the same size as me. My coach was there to officiate the match up.

Before we got started, as I always do, I asked my new sparring partner, “What’s the game?” Meaning, are we going full force, half power, just to the body, what are we doing? He just said that we should go easy and take it from there.

The bell rang, and my opponent came at me with an overhand right that was so powerful, it split my defense and caught me flush in the face. Based on our “what’s the game” dialogue just moments earlier, I wasn’t expecting a knockout punch.

Of course, the exchange quickly got heated and aggressive until my coach got between us and calmed us down.

Lesson learned.

Of course, the same thing can happen in business networking. Maybe not the getting hit in the face part. But, have you ever met someone at a networking event that behaved in a way you weren’t expecting?

Here are some of the most common ways “networkers” split the guard when they should be asking themselves, “What’s the game?”

  • Only talking about themselves.
  • Never asking questions about you.
  • Pitching their products and services.
  • Not listening to what you’re saying.
  • Looking at their phone instead of paying attention.
  • Scanning the room for “someone better” to talk to.

If this is YOU, stop. Think about who you’re in the ring with and how you can both find value in your networking exchange.

If this is someone you meet at a business networking event, offer them the opportunity for you to learn about one another and go from there. Maybe you can help each other. Or get into some light sparring.

That’s the game.

When networking, what is the most interesting way someone has split your guard?

Comment below!

P.S. We’re starting a new 8-week course on “how to network” called Training Camp to help financial advisors and agents generate more intros and referrals quickly. Would you like to join us? Contact me directly at

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