7 Dec 2011

Indie Advice: Conferences and Networking

When I was a full-time indie developer, I dismissed attending conferences as something I couldn‘t afford to do. I‘d strongly suggest that if you have any money for marketing, you spend it going to an appropriate conference.

Have you ever sat and thought “I wish Website X would cover my game, but I‘ve no idea who to get in touch with,“ or perhaps “I wish I didn‘t have to cold-email this person?“ You can solve both of these issues by making an effort to meet people.

Go to a conference. Go to the sessions that interest you. Wear a branded t-shirt. Tweet before you go, inviting people to chat with you. When you‘re sat waiting for the next session, introduce yourself to the person next to you. When you‘re in a queue, start smalltalk with the next person. Hunt out parties and social events, and if you can drink, then do. Brings cards, and give them to people.

You don‘t know who you might end up talking to. You might make some friends who are no use to you in business terms, or you might make some valuable contacts that you might not choose as friends. You may end up chatting to that journalist you really hope will like your game.

People. Drinking.
Conference attendees turn up with the intention of meeting people and talking. I‘ve yet to chat to someone who‘s told me to sod off, and I‘m quite annoying. Most of the people sat around bored, talking to no-one are in the same boat as you, and will generally be quite chuffed that someone has broken the ice.

If you make friends during the day, why not make dinner plans with them later? They might invite other interesting people you haven‘t met, you could end up at the next table as some influential types, and at absolute worse you eat with some smalltalk instead of on your own.

Go to the bar afterwards. Buy people drinks. Claim them as expenses. We all know it‘s easier to chat to strangers after a few beverages, and queuing at the bar or smoking outside are great places to bump into people.