All this week, we have been telling you guys the best ways to network at GDC 2015. I mentioned yesterday that we would only be going to part II, but the more I thought about it the more I realized I would be leaving you guys on a cliffhanger. Thus, I’m going to fill you guys in on the best ways to tie this entire week up properly. After all, what you do after you return to your home is equally as important as the entire week.
Be sure you don’t leave valuable info behind
I say this because I almost made this mistake at E3. I had a flight at 7am, so I was still pretty groggy and tired (in fact, I don’t think I slept any that night). Taking a shower and gathering my things, I almost forgot one of the most important valuables in my possession: my box of collected business cards. Forgetting these cards would have been a huge disaster for me, because I would have no idea how to network and follow-up with any of my contacts.
Before you leave GDC, be sure that you have all of your valuables in order – especially your business cards and other important items. A great way to avoid this is to give yourself enough time not to be rushed. Minimize the amount of rushing you will have to do, and you will decrease the chances of forgetting something valuable (such as business cards).
Flying? Follow up with contacts during layovers
You may be flying from San Francisco to your home; and you may even have a layover. Sure, layovers are a pain in the buttocks, but it’s a great excuse to be productive. If you met any promising contacts during the week that you are excited about getting to know more, use this time to follow up with them. Find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and shoot them a message telling them that you enjoyed meeting them and hope to speak with them regularly going forward. Be sure you don’t come across as desperate or clingy though; being excited about having a solid contact is fine, but be sure you keep your tone in check.
The last thing you want to do when you get home is unpack. I may not be your mother (and I definitely don’t play her on TV), but let me give you a piece of advice about unpacking: do it the moment you walk through the door. There is something annoying about trying to relax while knowing you have to unpack – and when this happens, you rarely relax properly. You’ve had a busy day and you’re almost ready to unwind, so unpack the first chance you get and then start relaxing! With an empty suitcase and your belongings put away, you won’t have anything else on your mind.
Relax, play some games, catch up on sleep – you’ve earned it!
When you feel refreshed, go through your business cards
When you finally feel refreshed, go through your business cards and take inventory of them. Notice the notes you wrote on the back of them (you did take notes per our advice, right?) and conduct a mental check of whom each business card belongs to. Afterward, put the names and contact information in a spreadsheet and be sure to mention what makes each person unique to you. For example, if you met a few people in publishing, mention this. Having contact information is great, but it won’t matter if you cannot easily identify why you have the contact information. I’ve made that mistake a few times myself, and let me tell you: there’s nothing more infuriating than having contact information and being unable to remember why you have it.
Network with them
Finally, network with your contacts one-by-one via social media, email, telephone – whatever you feel the most comfortable with. Mention how each of you met and what you talked about to refresh their memory, and link to your indie studio, game store pages, etc. to remind them of who you are. They’ve met a lot of people throughout the week, so don’t take it personally if they don’t remember you immediately – in fact, don’t expect them to!
From there, keep in contact with your top contacts. Send them interesting links from time-to-time, mention how your indie studio is progressing, and send a few of them free game codes if you think they would be interested. Regularly water your relationships with positive, professional conversation, and this entire week will pay off in the end. If one of your contacts cannot help you to expand your indie studio, chances are that later down the road they will introduce you to one of their contacts that will.