Authentic Networking in Games Industry
This blog talks about how to do 'Authentic' Networking in Games to create meaningful connections and a support network for yourself.
Want to skip the wall of text and go straight to the good stuff? Check out the takeaways section at the end :)
What is Authentic Networking?
The idea for this blog came from my last article on how to break into the games industry. I wanted to do a dedicated article on this because I think it's an important topic to discuss, especially being new to the industry.
First, let's talk about what networking is not. One of the biggest events in the game industry in North America is the Game Developer Conference (GDC). I went for the first time in 2018 as a student and it was eye-opening! I met amazing new friends, got to see inside game studios for the first time, and attended a lot of events.
I went to one of those events with a group of friends, and while talking, a person walked up to us and started handing out business cards. My friends and I looked at each other wondering if anyone knew this person; no one seemed to. After passing them out, the person asked, "What do you guys do?" We said we were students, so they walked away. They didn't say hello, how are you, thanks, or nice to meet you, haha.
Looking at this person's business card and portfolio, I found out they were also a student. I guess we weren't worth the time!
That, my friend, is a bad example of networking. Now let's talk about what some good practices are!
Networking isn't about 'what they can do for you.' To create meaningful connections it's good to go into networking with the idea of making new friends and with the mentality that both parties would be helping each other out. It should be a two-way street; a genuine person-to-person conversation, getting to know the other person and actively listening and participating in the conversation.
This also means you shouldn't build a network of superficial connections, which leads us to the next point.
Quality Over Quantity
Let’s say you do a ‘Speed Networking’ exercise where you speak with 10 different people for 5 minutes. Later that day you have a conversation on an expo floor with someone that lasts 20 minutes. During the conversation, you found you both had similar interests, played the same games, and lost track of time while talking.
Which person would YOU remember the most? Who do you think they'll remember? :)
Not only does a genuine conversation with someone make them more memorable, but it also creates a deeper understanding and connection with them. Take your time when meeting new people and, instead of constantly seeking out new contacts, nurture the connections you already have.
Networking is a long process and doesn't instantly yield results. Keep in touch with the other person and ask how they are doing. How's that side project coming along? Did they just get a new dog? Did they see “XYZ” movie you last talked about?
Getting to know each other and talking about each other's work over a period of time will build trust. By building trust it makes it possible for people to feel comfortable and confident to recommend you for jobs. After all, they are putting their reputation on the line for recommending you, so they'll want to make sure you'll do a good job.
Anyone can get you in the door
I talked about this a bit in my last article. No matter someone's title, anyone at a company could help with getting you a foot in the door. If you're a designer and meet an artist or marketing team member at a company you're interested in, they can still refer you or get you in contact with the person you need to talk to. Before asking for a referral though, have a genuine conversation with them and get to know them.
Authentic networking is genuinely getting to know a person for who they are and isn't just a way to get contacts to advance your career
Quality over quantity. It's not a numbers game; take the time to nurture connections
Networking is long-term, continue to follow up and build on the relationship through time
Anyone can get you in the door; even if your contact isn't the person you need, they can get you to someone who you're looking for
Hope this helps you with your next networking event! Have ideas or questions you'd like answered in future blogs? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for stopping by! <3