Last night I arrived in San Francisco and the team at Soma Games decided to get out and meet up with friends. We are here to attend the 2011 GDC (Game Developers Conference). Our first stop was the Facebook party. At first glance it looked like it was going to be fun. Plenty of industry workers and company owners were enjoying themselves. As we settled in I soon realized that one thing after the next was going to happen. I would meet someone and they would hand me their card. Then they would ask “so what games have you done”. And that was basically it. It felt scripted. After the third time I began to get bored. Many of the people in attendance were young but it didn’t dawn on me till later that these were all either college students or recent graduates. And they were playing the classic game of networking.
I did get a chance to explain a bit about the communities I have helped build and how I they formed. A bootstrapper asked us how we find our talent as well as our for-hire gigs. From what I could tell he really had not tried to build a community yet. I was honest and told him it was all about friendship, trust and enchantment. I went on to share that ninety percent of the time I am just visiting with clients and partners. We talk about our families and our hobbies. We share our struggles and stories. Yes we talk shop but it is rarely about selling and mostly about life.
Know your short pitch about who you are and what you do and then calm down and ask the other person about their life. Find out how their trip to the conference was, where else they have travelled recently, where they went to school. Find some way to connect their world to yours. Think of who in your circle of friends they just have to meet. If there is an obvious connection, you will never need to hand someone a card because they will ask for it. Most of all don’t strive. Nothing is more unbecoming.
When I get home and all I have is your card it will usually go in the trash. If you told me a great story or I got to know a little about your family and what makes you passionate you can be sure I will look you up, check out your work. If I can’t find a way to work with you then I will make sure I find someone who can.
Most of all remember it is about people. For more on that read Surprised in Vegas.