What is Networking?
Networking is the process by which you meet and engage other people in your professional space. That’s it. You’ll notice it’s a pretty broad definition, and that’s on purpose. Many are intimidated by the idea of networking because, to them, it’s forcing themselves to do things they wouldn’t be doing otherwise. It’s going to bars when you don’t like to drink, because “industry people will be there.” It’s going to meals with strangers. It’s a chore. An obligation. No wonder people don’t want to do it!
But, the reality is, networking is just meeting people, and you’ll get a lot more out of a even a small interaction if you’re comfortable, less in your head. Don’t let the word intimidate you.
Why is Networking Important?
No successful creator does it alone. That’s the truth. Yes, this is a field of personal achievement, with long, lonely hours put in, alone, on one’s own time, but anyone who’s going to create professionally has to have a network of people around them.
Meeting other creators is a necessity, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it opens the door to collaborations, and crossovers between channels is an important and effective way to grow your platform. Content made with others is almost always better, with the combination of voices and chemistry leading to more dynamic entertainment. Meanwhile, it also lets your audiences “cross-pollinate,” with new fans crossing over from one channel to the other. It’s a great way to grow, both your community and your content. Other creators are also the best people from whom to learn. How do others do things differently than you? How do they engage their fans? How do they monetize? You can read about strategy until your eyes dry out, but it’ll never have the authority of first-hand experience. Developing a network of peers will let you have that resource, for advice, for criticism. And, on top of that, these people are your coworkers, your compatriots. The support you’ll receive from another creator who understands what you’re going through is invaluable in times of struggle or stress, and everyone has those moments, from time to time. I could go on, really. The benefits are endless.
Of course, there are other people to meet, people in the space who can help enhance your content and community in exciting ways. Streaming and let’s playing is nothing, of course, without games to play, and the newer or more unique a game, the stronger a draw it can be for your platform. That’s why it’s so important to develop relationships, whenever possible, with game developers. The world of gaming media has changed. Written spotlights and reviews in magazines and on professional websites used to be all you needed to get your game in front of an audience, but, these days, content creators are the tastemakers. If a game isn’t being played on Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube, chances are, unless it’s got a big marketing budget, it’s not going to do well. Developers need creators like you to sell their games, and they know it. So, it’s important to seek opportunities for collaboration, getting early or special access to betas or new games, giving your platform a unique source of content, making you unique.
It’s also important to meet the creators of all the extensions, apps, bots, and other products that spring up around the content-creator space. Doing so will keep you plugged in to the scene, knowing what new services are out there, what’s coming, and how to best make use of all the resources available to you. Also, the more personally connected you are to these creators, the more accessible they will be when you need their help with support.
Finally, it’s important to put yourself out there and meet those associated with brands and companies looking to endorse creators. Brand deals are covered elsewhere, but it’s once again important to note that they make up a valuable revenue stream.