5 Ways to Kickass at Twitchcon — Streamer Networking 101
Your Twitchcon 2017 Checklist on how to prepare for every Twitch streamers favorite convention.
We’ve grown the LVLUP Dojo community through relationship building. A significant amount of our content has stemmed from relationships made at tournaments and convention centers. Beyond our own personal experience networking at these events, we’ve also worked with several streamers and competitive players who have shared their knowledge on the subject.
If you don’t feel like reading through this whole guide, check out the video explainer video below.
We ran a Twitter poll to see what the majority of your goals are, these are the options we laid out.
Meeting/engaging your community, and meeting other creators are the most popular goals. These are both extremely important, but please don’t forget the value of building relationships with game developers and potential sponsors.
Sponsors are like investors, it’s better to get to know them and start the relationship when you don’t need them, rather than when you’re desperate.
Before we get into the best practices for networking at Twitchcon and other cons/gaming expos, let’s define the different types of attendees you will run into.
Understanding the Different Types of Twitchcon Attendees
The lifeblood of Twitchcon, the viewer. At the end of the day none of us would be here if it wasn’t for the viewers and Twitchcon is not only a good place to meet other likeminded individuals, it’s a great way to meet new fans, and engage with existing community.
The other piece of the Twitchcon pie, the creators. If you’re reading this guide, this probably describes you. Creators are the streamers, youtubers, and other personalities that grace the expo hall with their presence.
If Twitchcon were a country, Twitch would be its government and game developers would be its states. You may not visit every state, or even want to visit every state, but there’s a state for everyone and being knowledgeable about them helps you not look like an idiot. Each state also has its own small businesses (streamers). States provide help and aid for small businesses looking to grow, unfortunately most small businesses will never utilize this aid because 1) they don’t know about it, or 2) they don’t see the benefit in it.
In Ninjas’ course “Build A Following For Your Stream”, he compares every streamer to a coffee shop. If you run a coffee shop and your state government offers subsidies to small businesses who use local coffee beans, use some damn local coffee beans. You’re still selling coffee, and now you’re getting some help.
Carrying this example over to game developers, talk to devs and see what their goals are. Maybe they don’t care where you source your coffee beans but I bet they are very passionate about the next project their releasing and they might even offer you free beta codes to give away to your audience. Or even better, promote you as an ambassador for their game.
Sponsors are like religious super models. If you want them, you have to act like you don’t need them, and if you want them to even think about associating with you you need to fit their religious beliefs (brand guidelines
Golden Rule: Make Friends, Not Connections
This was initially #4 on our list of best practices but we moved it up because of how important it is.
Would you want to do business with someone you don’t like?
Let’s look at a scenario.
Company A is offering 6 schmeckles for your endorsement. Company B is offering 9 schmeckles. The rep from Company A is a Rick & Morty fan and hilarious. He/She actually went to High School 3 miles from that one guy you know from back in the day and your parents were in the same frat at Clown School. He/She asks extensive questions about your stream, community, and brand before even beginning to talk about business. While the rep from Company B is obviously just after your support and really doesn’t care about your stream OR your community, hell he/she didn’t even ask what games you like to play- which one would you want to work with?
I’m hoping you said Company A. Actually, that was such a biased broken-paragraph that if you didn’t pick A I’d be very surprised. The moral of the story is that it goes both ways. Whether you’re approaching a potential sponsor or another streamer you’d like to collaborate with.
People like to work with people that they like.
So please don’t go around handing your biz cards out like condoms at the free clinic. There is no reward for getting rid of your business cards faster than anyone else. I personally try to avoid handing out business cards over getting phone numbers/social handles. I don’t want to be another card in a stack of 100.
You should want to work with other streamers/companies that resonate with you and your community. If a company stands for what you stand for, then promoting it will be second nature. Alternatively, If you genuinely use and benefit from a company’s product or service, then promoting it will come naturally.
It’s the same when it comes to networking with other streamers. Make friends, not connections. Don’t target people you recognize and socially engineer ways to bump into them and become best friends (unless you’re the Sherlock Holmes of social engineering and can pull it off). Start up conversations with the people around you, ask them what they do, be social. I know that’s much easier said than done for many people (including myself), but at events like Twitchcon you just have to remind yourself that everyone’s there for the same reason.
I personally believe that your #1 goal should be making as many friends at Twitchcon as possible. If you focus on making friends you will satisfy all of the four goals we mentioned previously, and best of all, you won’t hate people you might end up working/collaborating with.
Networking Best Practices
Make sure your branding is touched up across the board. Your logo and color schemes should be consistent across all of your social platforms and your handles should be the same or at least similar to each other. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you during and after the show. There’s a good chance people are going to look you up either right after, or as they meet you. Make sure there’s nothing on your channels that’s going to make them want to walk away. If you need a little help working on your personal brand, check out Cole’s course on doing just that here.
Business cards are great, but don’t look at your stack of freshly printed cards and think, “I have to get rid of all of these during Twitchcon”. I’ve gone to countless exhibitions in and out of the gaming industry, and no one, I repeat, no one, likes to have business cards shoved down their throat. Don’t be that guy or girl that starts a conversation by handing out a business card. It makes people come off as overeager.
When you meet people, start up a conversation and talk to them for at least a couple minutes before handing them anything. When you hand out cards you want people to keep them and remember you, if you walk up to someone and hand them a card before even introducing yourself they’re just going to slide it into their pocket and forget it. Give them a reason to remember you first, crack a joke, make a comment on the exhibition so far, just make sure you’re memorable (more on that later). A great method for making sure someone remembers you- write an inside joke on your card before you hand it to someone.
Pro Tip: the best connections we’ve made at events never received our business cards. Your goal when starting a conversation with someone shouldn’t be, “how do I get my business card to this person”, it should be, “How do I make myself so memorable that they won’t need my business card”. The biggest win you can get at an event like Twitchcon is approaching someone you want to meet and having them ask for your number.
Pro Tip: Find commonality with the person you’re talking to and give them a reason to want your contact information. They like Star Wars? Have they seen the awesome fan film that came out last month? No? Ask for their info so you can share!
I know we just talked about how business cards aren’t the end all be all to your networking abilities. However, if you bring business cards, make them memorable. Your business card is an extension of your brand. Are you a Minecraft streamer? Maybe your business card can be a cutout of your Minecraft character. Is your gamer tag “Soldier0fFortune”? Have custom fortune cookies made and put your information on the paper insert. Understand that everyone at the show has been handed hundreds of cards, make yours stand out in the stack.
There are tons of different ways to be memorable. For extroverts it may be easier than others, your personality itself can be memorable. If you have trouble being gregarious in social settings, there are a couple other ways you can shine. Let’s start with your clothes, wearing something funny, creative, or plain weird is sometimes the best conversation starter you can have- because people will actually start conversations with you, it’s perfect. I said, “Nice shirt”, to more people at PAX West than I’ve probably said it to in my entire life. Everyone of those people could have used the opportunity to start up a conversation with me. Bonus points if you can tie your creative apparel into your brand.
Sidenote: Should go without saying, if you play a character during your stream (like Dr. Disrespect), show up to Twitchcon as that character.
At the first gaming event we went to as a company, we had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t know anyone there, didn’t know any of the reps from the companies on display, and barely even knew any streamers at the time. Hell we’d just figured out where our own Twitch Stream Key was a few days prior. At the time, we had one friend in the industry who was a pretty recognized face in the gaming community. Luckily for us, we met up with him and he introduced us to eSports Orgs, potential sponsors, streamers, Youtubers, and creators of all kind. Just to clarify, this wasn’t a structured relationship- we didn’t tell him, “Okay we’re here for business let’s do 4 laps and hit every person at every table with an intro”. We just hung out, and made friends.
One of the best ideas we’ve heard for engaging with your community at exhibitions (shoutout to Caliverse) is by hosting local meet ups before or after the show. Even if you think you’ll only get 1–3 of your viewers to show up, that’s amazing! You’ve somehow related and resonated with people over the internet, people who have never actually met you want to come (possibly even fly into another state/country) to see you. This in itself is beautiful and something that so many take for granted. Show your fans (however many there are) that you genuinely care about them, and people will talk.
Action Item: Create a Facebook event (or use the app/site “MeetUp”) a couple weeks before the event. Pick a bar or restaurant that’s walking distance from the venue, and set a time for your community to meet you, and bring merch!
One of the most (if not the most) important aspects of networking at Twitchcon is following up with the people you meet. There’s no point in connecting with people if you’re not going to follow up with them afterwards. If they’re more formal (i.e. a Game dev or sponsor), shoot them an email. If it’s someone you built up a pretty friendly relationship with, tweet at them letting them know it was nice to meet them. Most of the value you will take away from Twitchcon won’t make itself apparent to you until well after the show is over.
Pro Tip: Remember when we told you to write inside jokes on your business card when you give them out? It’s also a good idea to write keywords down on business cards you receive from people to ensure that you remember them. You’re going to meet a lot of people at Twitchcon and faces might start to blur together.
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Video Course: Making Your Stream Unique with TheZombiUnicorn
Video Course: Build Your Stream Following with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
Video Course: Building Your Stream Community With Squallmuzza
Video Course: Build Your Personal Brand with Nicolas Cole
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Hope you enjoyed!
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