GDC is an exciting time for me largely because it introduces me to a world full of developers. I enjoy meeting people and talking about their backgrounds, hobbies, and what they do for a living, so the thousands of people that come to San Francisco each year is like an amusement park for me. A few of my classmates recently came up to me asking for advice on how to approach game developers since they were on attending GDC next year. With that in mind, here is some of my personal advice on networking:
1. Read everything posted here: http://tinysubversions.com/effective-networking/ . Darius Kazemi was a really cool guy I had the pleasure of meeting at GDC last year, and his articles taught me quite a bit about networking. I’m sure some of what I say will already be covered there, and the rest of these points will be me doing my best not to repeat the same advice.
2. Do NOT go to GDC with the expectation that you will find a job there. You are simply setting yourself up for disappointment. While there are definitely people who have found internships and full-time employment at the conference, going there will the express plan to causes you to miss out on a lot. For one, you end up ignoring many of the really interesting talks held throughout the week. Even worse is what it does to your networking. By going to GDC just to find a job, your conversation all become centered around looking for work. Since that is what you are focused on, you end up not building connections with many of the fascinating people that attend the conference because they don’t have anything to offer you.
3. A little research goes a long way. The entire exhibitor’s list for GDC is posted in advance, and you can go through them in one evening. A 5-10 minute skim of their website can teach you quite a bit about a company, and a little bit of background info does impress people (especially the smaller companies).
4. The Career Pavillion is the place where companies set up shop in search of new potential hires. However, that doesn’t mean you should forget all of the good networking skills you’ve worked so hard at honing. Connecting with developers as people can take you so much farther than reading off your resume and begging and pleading for a job, no matter how qualified you might be. Remember, everyone working at those booths are people, too. Ask them about what they do at the company, or how they got into the industry. Start a conversation with them. Wearing a funny hat can make you stand out, but so can sharing a laugh with someone.
5. It’s my last piece of advice, but honestly what I feel to be the single most important I learned from GDC. DON’T EVER discount someone because of where they work or what they do. There’s no telling what kinds of connections people might have, where someone might have worked in the past, or where they will be in the future. Each and every person has their own story to tell. The more of them you get to hear, the more it will enrich your experience, as well as your life.
That’s all I have for today. Hopefully anyone who comes across this will get a chance to achieve their personal goals. If I help a single person find success with this, then I’d say it was a blog post well worth writing.