You’ve bought the tickets, booked your hotel, you’re on the invite list for all the good parties … but what do you do when you actually show up?
For most streamers, conventions are first and foremost a business event. Even though part of the show will be about socializing, it’s important to have a game plan. Your goals will vary based on recent obstacles or opportunities you’ve had, but following these do’s & don’ts will help you make the most of your PAX South experience.
PLANNING Do: Write out goals for yourself.
Try and create a few goals in each of three categories: networking (getting to know more streamers & channel support), prospecting (finding potential business partners), and education (finding answers to your questions about the industry & streaming.) If you enjoy gamifying life goals, consider writing up a scavenger hunt for yourself (“get 10 business cards from game developers”, “get invited to a company event”, “meet 5 community managers”, etc.), or assign & track XP for specific achievements with the goal of leveling by convention end.
Don’t: Be overly specific.
It’s easy to fail if your goals are too narrow. You can’t dictate who will be where at what time, or where your conversations will go. For example, instead of “get XYZ company to sponsor my stream at $500 a month”, a more realistic goal would be “identify 3 potential sponsors who seem to be working with streamers my size.”
SCHEDULING Do: Keep tabs on your obligations and general schedule.
Make sure you have a list of your obligations in the format that works best for you and that you also have a backup. Considering how quickly phone batteries die at conventions, a handwritten schedule in your phone case is a great option. Try to also put together a general plan of where you’ll be morning, afternoon & evening each day. By doing this ahead of time you can make sure you’re not neglecting any aspect of the convention you want to experience.
Don’t: Overschedule yourself.
The show is only 72 hours long. It can be tempting to “go go go” the whole time. Remember to schedule some quiet time to unwind. Take a 15-minute coffee break on your own or with a friend. Write notes on what you’ve just seen or who you’ve just interacted with. Keep in mind that when the convention is over, you’ll go home and hop right back into broadcasting. You need to pace yourself and avoid getting overwhelmed.
SOCIALIZING Do: Work your friends network to the fullest – and do your best to help out your friends.
Talk about what companies you’re interested in connecting with and who you’ve been chatting with. Connect your friends with people they want to meet and ask them to do the same for you. While you should be protective of information about contracts you’re negotiating, it doesn’t serve you to keep these first-level business contacts secret. Being seen as a helper, not a hoarder, of relationships will go a long way toward impressing potential business partners.
Don’t: Be afraid to introduce yourself to people you admire.
In the business world, many relationships that start out as somewhat awkward partnership discussions wind up being lifelong friendships. Be friendly, but be respectful of peoples’ time. Understand that even an awkward conversation sets the stage for a more positive interaction the next time you see the person
FOLLOW UP Do: Save every business card.
You can go through later and sort out which ones you were just taking to be polite and which are worth following up on. Your memory can’t be trusted on this, so its important to take business cards from anyone you can, and have one place where you store them all and can go through them when you get home – even if that one place is “thrown in the bottom of the suitcase.”
Don’t: Delay following up.
Streamers lose out when they delay follow-up in order to write elaborate follow-up emails. A few sentences is fine, it doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. Tell them it was nice to meet them and mention the situation you met them in. Tell them you look forward to discussing possible ways to partner or that you look forward to hearing more about how you might help build community for their game (whichever is more applicable to the situation.) Wish them a good rest of the week and leave them with an indication of the best way to contact you. Keep it simple, and don’t delay.
Keep in mind – shows are supposed to be fun. Enjoy it, take it in, meet some people and get some business done!
Need advice on what to pack or how to network? Here are some additional resources to help your convention planning.
Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Kiraeyl’s blog on convention planning.
Justin Wong’s reddit thread gives more detail on the “how to’s” of networking.
Precious Kitten’s guides on how to pack for Pax Prime and TwitchCon also apply to Pax South.