Going to Conferences Like a Pro

By now, I have been to countless conferences as a sponsor, speaker and attendee. I wanted to share some insights about going to game design conferences can a bit scary, but being focused on startup game dev strategy helps. what to do and not do. This piece of advice is useful when you go to a mobile gaming conference that have mostly people you don’t know. If you already know the people who are coming you might not need to go to that event. If, at the rare occasion, you are going to a conference for the sessions you can stop reading here. I rarely go to the sessions so can’t tell you much about that.

7 Tips for Making an Impact at a Conference

  • Define your Goal – what will be a good outcome from the show? Are you looking for a publishing deal? More outsource work for your studio? Hiring talent? Discover new user acquisition channels? Knowing what you are after will help you make the most out of the opportunity.
  • Prepare meetings in advance – if this is a more formal event, you can set up meetings in advance. Some conference have a way to network and approach attendees in advance. Another way to do this is get a list of conference attendees from the conference site or following the conference hashtag on twitter. In more casual intimate conference you might not want to set a time and place but rather let the person know you will be there and are interested in connecting.
  • Dove tail a Veteran – try to find someone who has already been to this event several times and wants to help you. The more popular the fellow the better. You want that person to walk with you for an hour or two and just introduce you to random people he knows.
  • Know your one liner – people will ask you what you do and you should have a sentence that will be short, memorable and accurate. Something that people can wrap their heads around quickly. Leveraging known games can help here – “I’m doing Candy Crush in 3d”.
  • Focus on listening and memorize one personal fact about every one you interact with. People like to talk more than listen and are unlikely to remember what you tell them anyway. You can later follow up and you will get a much better response when your email starts with: “Hi John, I hope you were able to recover your lost suitcase. I hate it when airlines do that.”
  • Go Alone – If you are the only person from your team at the conference you are likely to meet more people. If you are not, split up. It’s hard to do that but much more effective. Standing by yourself tells people they can approach you and focuses you on finding the next person you should meet. The only exception here is if your colleague knows many people and introduces you to them and even then, you should only do that for 1-2 hours.
  • Skip the Parties – unless you are the kind of person who can be the center of attention on a dance floor (trust me you are not) that’s usually a huge waste of time. The important people are usually not there and nobody remembers anything the next day. Going for fun is a different story but not the focus of this article.
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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Yaniv, you made some interesting points here! I agree to most of them.

    I still haven’t figured out the parties for myself though.

    If they’re too loud, and there’s no decent place to talk, they indeed aren’t very interesting, business-wise. Shouting an entire evening can be very bad for your voice the next days of the event.

    On the positive side, parties can be interesting to meet existing contacts in a less formal setting (i.e. people you had an interesting meeting with during the day), or to meet their colleagues.

    • I would say that parties can be effective for business in one of these situations:
      – This is a private party with high quality audience (not the official parties)
      – You want to build a relationship with 1-2 people going there and you are going together

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