Here are some quit and dirty tips I jotted down to improve my networking skills @ GDC.

  • Don’t waste your time trying to talk to famous speakers after their talk. Most are friendly enough, but it’s akin to hitting on the hot girl or guy at the bar — they’ve got something everyone wants, and so their guard is up automatically.
  • If you are going to ask questions, ask questions that make the speaker talk about themselves, since that’s everyone’s favorite subject, you are also likely to get more passionate, real responses this way.
  • The best way to meet people is by doing something together. I was a Conference Associate this year, and the networking opportunity was amazing because we all had a shared purpose and set of tasks we were achieving. Whether it’s volunteering, hacking together, or just going to an after hours event together, the best type of conversation is done not for the sake of itself, but because folks are sharing an experience together.
  • At after hours events, it’s much harder to meet random people than it is to get introduced into a group. The after hours events themselves tend to be pretty closed off to outsiders. Make sure you know people at the event that can introduce you to others.
  • Smile and maintain a positive attitude, your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) can be infectious. This may seem obvious, but I mean it literally. Even if you feel like crap, try smiling for a few minutes. Research shows that smiling can actually cause you to feel emotions of joy and happiness, even if you are “faking it” in the beginning. By the way, this is not license to be fake around people in general smart folks can smell a phony from a mile away.
  • If there is a conversation you are not enjoying, do not feel obligated to stay. Politely excuse yourself whenever there is a slight lull.
  • Ask around about the good events, you’ll never know when someone will have an extra ticket, etc. NOTE: Good events are not held in loud obnoxious nightclubs. Ideally, you want an event that gives you room to breathe and meet other people.
  • Try to get into the event for free by volunteering your time — this is a better networking opportunity than the event itself as a matter of fact. I was surprised by how different GDC felt as a conference associate!
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