Networking is much more than collecting business cards and contacts. It's about building relationships, having connections in the industry and knowing people who share the same struggles as you. Don't only think about what you can gain from these relationships, but how you can help others as well.
When getting to know new people, try to ask what they are looking for. Do you know the kind of person they are looking for? Thinking about people beyond what there is to gain helps expand your network and create lasting relationships.
All this can sound overwhelming if you don't know where to start. In reality, you do networking daily. Every conversation you have with your colleagues or friends nurtures your existing connections. But there are a few good places to start if you want to meet new people in the games industry. Next, let’s look at a few.
IGDA is an international non-profit membership organization. It hosts meetups all around the world and is run by local volunteers. See if your city has an active community and if they host meetups.
There are many large events for game developers. Even if you can't attend them in person, many have online seminars, publish talks, and offer other ways to network. Game Developers Conference (GDC) publishes some of the talks hosted during their event on their YouTube page. You might've run across some of those talks already. Search for the events in your area and see what they have to offer.
Nowadays there are a lot of online groups where you can meet and network with other game developers. If you can think of a specialty, there most likely is a group for it on Facebook, on a forum, or on a Discord server. LinkedIn is a great way to make yourself easily found professionally if you aren't an active social media user otherwise. If possible, try to search for a mentor via a mentorship program online or otherwise.
If you're serious about expanding your network, you should be easily found online. Having a LinkedIn profile is a great start. You can also invest in business cards and host a portfolio website if you'd like. You should also make your team or your game easily searchable. That way, people may contact you via your store page or your team's contact email.
When developing a game, you might wish to work with a publisher to help you with production. You should know when and how to approach them. The guidelines following can help you do just that.
Finding the Right Publisher
First you should decide which publishers to approach. See their portfolio and look if they have published games like yours before. Don't pitch a mobile game to a publisher who has only published console games in the past, for instance.
Preparing the Game
Before you can meet up with the publisher, you must have something to show. The game should be in a playable state, and you should have graphics ready so that you can show what the game will look like. Don't go to a publisher if you have nothing to show. Having a playable demo and a video of the game is extremely valuable because both give a clear image of what you're working on.
Preparing the Pitch
Prepare a pitch for the publisher highlighting the main features of your game and the team. You should show that you know your competitors, the market you're aiming for, and your marketing goals. Check the previous lesson again for more details about pitching if you need a refresher.
Contacting the Publisher
Search for the publishers' contact information on their web page. Send them an email about your offer and include information about your game. Show them that you're serious and already have an almost finished game.
Meet up with the publisher. This may be a video call or a meet up at their office. Prepare for technical difficulties when meeting online. Be confident and polite, don't lie about your abilities of those of your team. Be ready for questions and more business-related questions.
After the meetup, follow up via email and thank them for the meeting. They might have asked for some documents during the meeting or questions you didn't have the complete answer for, and this is the perfect time to provide them.
Answer the following question about the video.
What is networking and what is not?
Remember to look at networking as a tool, not a burden. People skills will help, and every conversation is a new opportunity. Same goes for external partners, our next topic.