Networking 101: A Guide for Indie Game Developers

By Jessica Paek    

Networking is important to indie game developers for many reasons, but it’s hard to know where to start and what kind of goals to set when developing a networking strategy. The indie game industry is more decentralized than AAA, which can make it difficult to connect to other industry members. Connecting with the right people should be a critical part of marketing games. Often times, making good impressions on the top social media influencers and press can help you get the game reviews that every indie game so desperately needs. If you’re trying to network, but don’t know where to start — or if you need a few pointers — we’ve put together a guide specifically for indie game developers.

Whether you’re just starting out as an indie game developer, or you’re a seasoned veteran with a growing indie game studio, networking strengthens your connection to the industry and can help improve your video game marketing strategy. The indie gaming industry demands much more initiative than AAA to grow your network. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start if you don’t already have a finger on the pulse of the indie gaming world or if you’re trying to meet press and influencers and you don’t know who to reach out to or how to break the ice.

Where does networking start for an indie game developer?

For many indie game developers––especially those who don’t live near big game developer communities––networking begins online. Having a strong social media presence and engaging in relevant conversations can help get the attention of people or companies that you want to develop relationships with. If you make it out to a video game convention, try to reach out to people you think will be good to meet and set appointments with them beforehand.

The indie gaming is a very small world — when you start to see certain names popping up again and again, there’s a good chance that that is someone you want to connect with. Try to participate in online conversations that you deem relevant and stay current on trending topics not just in indie gaming as a whole, but in the smaller pockets of individuals that you’re trying to engage with.

Start networking before your indie game needs it

With everything that goes into game development, it can be easy to delay this step until you’re launching your Kickstarter or trying to get press coverage for your indie game. It’s important to start networking in the early stages of your game marketing strategy to build interest and get important people invested in the development of your indie game. Ideally, you want to start networking when you’re not looking to get anything specific out of anyone. You never want to come off as desperate or as opportunistic.

Don’t center your networking strategy around marketing games

While networking is a big part of marketing games, it’s important to remember that marketing is not the main focus of networking. Try not to network with the goal of self-promotion, but rather with the intention of building valuable relationships with valuable people. Don’t make the mistake of only focusing your efforts solely on the CEOs of video game publishers the top social media influencers, but instead, try to build bonds with people that you think are driven and will continue to grow in their careers. It’s also vital to know your own value and be aware of what you bring to the table. Instead of networking with the sole intention of furthering your own indie game studio, try to think of what you can do for others as well as connect people you think will be helpful to each other. Focus on creating genuine connections and fostering those relationships, and opportunities will come.

Developing genuine connections is the best video game PR

A crucial part of networking in any industry is to treat everyone well, even the people that you might not see as important. Be sincere in your interactions in order to forge real connections that grow over time. Your aim should be to create authentic relationships by being yourself, but also being courteous and professional. Having a reputation for being a genuine, amicable person is arguably one of the most important traits to have when you’re trying to expand your professional network. Be generous and helpful with your contacts, and it will be reciprocated. Always get in touch with people when you say you will, respond to emails, and follow up on your promises.

Networking is a long term game for indie developers

Networking isn’t just important for marketing games or increase exposure for your indie game studio. Your professional network can provide great support, advice, and direction. In networking, you’re not just thinking about funding your next project or getting the video game review you want at a big indie game news site, but rather, you’re creating a relationships what deepen over time. Don’t just think about what people can do for you short term, but rather, connect with people you think will be successful who you can also develop a mutually beneficial relationship with over time. As you grow your contact list and you form strong professional bonds with them, your network not only expands, but increases in value.

Let things happen naturally for your indie game

Networking isn’t an exact science, it’s about setting up the ideal scenario for your game’s success. Once you’ve started to branch out and started to build your network, you have to know when to sit back and let things happen organically. You can’t send out follow up emails en masse after a convention and expect it to magically make your indie game go viral. There’s a certain point where you’ve done all you can, and you just have to sit back and let the work you’ve done and the impressions you’ve made open doors for you. A lot of it is trial and error, but with tenacity and patience (and the right amount of luck), the network you’ve built can take your indie game studio to places you never thought possible!

Looking to network at a video game convention? Check out our convention guide for indie game developers! Be sure to follow Indie Boost on Twitter for more game dev content and to stay up-to-date on all our latest news!

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Networking is important to indie game developers for many reasons, but it’s hard to know where to start

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Developer/Publisher Relations @ Indie Boost

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Carefully crafted how-to-guides made specifically to help indie game developers with game marketing and video game PR.

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