"Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."

- Chief, Animal Crossing

Networking For Streamers: A Guide You Must Follow

Networking. That word that comes up in every answer to the question, “how do I grow my channel?” It comes up every time because it is vital to growing as a streamer, it is how the popular streamers have gotten to where they are today. When I asked Danny O’Dwyer about NoClip, and whether he would have been able to set it up had it not been for his work at Gamespot, his answer included:

"I also think GameSpot, and Giant Bomb exposed my work to much wider audiences which is 9/10ths of the battle sadly."

The bigger streamers got their work noticed through their networking. For something so vital though, many streamers seem to struggle with getting their networking off the ground. Part of the issue -- spoiler alert, I’m going to be cynical for a moment -- is that it’s extremely hard work and some just aren’t prepared to do the grunt work. They want it handed to them. If you take a look at some streamers Twitter feed, you’ll see examples where people have just messaged them saying “hey follow me/collaborate with me/advertise me”. They don’t know the streamer, they just see they’re popular and want them to hand them some exposure. Sufficed to say, the response they get is swift and sometimes brutal (usually 2 words, 7 letters, and 3 of them are F).

So what can you do to effectively network, to get your name known, to grow as a streamer? The answer is simple yet hard at the same time because there isn’t really just one aspect to it. Effective networking involves many different avenues and not all of which will yield results for you straight away. Now I don’t mean to profess to be an expert, I am far from it, I’m still learning and make horrendous mistakes. What I’d like to do is lay out what I do, benefits of them and some things to keep in mind.

So let’s start with the features that Twitch have:

Hosts/Autohosts/Raids – the bare minimum



Twitch has built-in features that allow you to host other streamers channels and even send your viewers to another channel once you’ve finished streaming (Raids). These are great, easy ways to get your name out there. It shows that you are prepared to support others by hosting them on your channel and raiding them (the theme of helping others is going to come up again; just a heads up) Looks good for you, but there’s a couple of things you need to keep in mind. Not every streamer is going to have visual alerts or notifications in chat if you raid/host them, especially the bigger ones so even if you host/raid, they won’t notice and neither will their viewers. Your viewers can post a raid emote in chat but again, their chats move so fast they’re not likely to notice that either.

The other drawback, especially with auto-host, is that it relies on their chat watching when they’re not online. How often that happens, especially for smaller streamers is up for debate but if you think about it, how often do you visit a stream you haven’t had a go-live notification for?

Common courtesy and etiquette goes a long way. If you raid someone, drop in and say “hi” to the streamer. If they ask you how your stream went, answer them. You don’t have to spend ages in their chat, many streamers appreciate that streaming is tiring and you’ll probably want to rest afterwards. But just 5 minutes can make all the difference. If you get hosted or raided, don’t forget to thank the person and welcome them and their viewers and, you guessed it, ask the streamer how their stream went.

So hosting/raiding is quick & easy to do, if you pick the right streamer it will result in people seeing your name and them seeing you’re willing to help others. But as the title says, this is the bare minimum and frankly, isn’t enough on its own. But you’ve got your hosts and raids down to a fine art, what’s next?

Join the social media – what would you want them to do?



Pretty much every streamers presence online isn’t restricted to their streaming channel. They’ll have Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Instagram, Youtube…..pretty much anywhere they can put themselves. So get in there; follow them, join their groups, comment on their posts, get involved in the discussions, obey their rules. The more they see you’re interested in them and respect their rules, the more likely they’ll get interested in you. If it was your social media that’s what you’d want people to do. What you wouldn’t want them to do is come in and just advertise their streams/social media and nothing else. Again, that’ll likely get met with the same 2-word response as before.

Outside of individual streamers, they are a number of streaming communities that have their own social media presence. Again, get in there, get to know people, get involved in the discussions, help out with tasks if needed, help other streamers, work your way up the levels (if it has any) but just be active beyond advertising when you’re live. Same for your own social media, talk about other topics and yourself as opposed to just the “hey I’m live, come watch” posts. The more people get to know you, the more likely they are to at least come and check out your stream.

So you’re hosting and raiding like a pro and you’re getting known in social media circles, now what?

Get yourself to events – it’s where the viewers and devs are



Gaming is such big business that even conventions that were exclusively about pop culture and meeting stars have incorporated gaming areas into them. Not to mention the numerous events that cater exclusively to gamers anyway, so there’s a lot of chances for people to meet up and talk about their favourite games. Gamers are your potential viewer base, your potential community, so go where they are. Check out the stalls, talk to the vendors but again, don’t just promote yourself and force a business card out. Talk to them about them (are you seeing a pattern yet?) ask them about their products and anything new in the pipeline. At the end nothing may happen, you might just thank each other and go your respective ways and that’s OK. The worst you can say is that it was good practice, helps your confidence and you got to chat with a vendor. A good interaction may not result in anything, but a bad one will kill any chance of potentially joining any program/team they have and word will spread.

When it comes to game devs, you can pretty much replace vendor with dev and the same points apply. They’re likely showcasing an upcoming game of theirs so play the game, ask questions, find out about them, pick up a business card, sign up for updates. Don’t, and you’ve probably guessed by now, try and blag a free game code out of them. That would be an example of a bad interaction.

So now you’re moving and shaking in both online & IRL circles, you’re probably thinking “OK what next?”

Maintain and refine – you’re going to need discipline



Some days you just don’t want to interact but be disciplined in doing so, even if it’s just to say “I’m having a shocking day”. You need to keep going because even though there’s no guarantee of success if you do, there’s a 100% guarantee of failure if you don’t. Looking back on previous mistakes I have made, I think it can be boiled down to “don’t make it about yourself” and “keep going”.  Sometimes I think you pretty much have to forget you’re trying to grow/expand/advertise and just talk to people about them. Go where they are, interact where they are and if you do that enough, maybe they’ll return the favour.

For the most part, here on out is maintaining what you’ve established to grow. Nothing I’ve detailed above is a one-time thing or has a time limit. It’s constant, it’s about actively evaluating what’s working, what you’re enjoying, refining it and repeating. If you feel like you’re juggling too many social media accounts, try slimming it down and focus on just a couple, or see if you can get someone to help you keep things up to date. Now it may feel like you’re doing this for ages but not seeing any real return.  As much as I’d love there to be (and I’d have done it already if there was) there is no guaranteed way of obtaining success. You can do everything right and still not grow as fast or as much as you want. You can increase your chances, but that’s as far as it goes. So you then have to work out how are you going to keep going. You’re going to need the discipline to keep going.

Note: I haven’t said motivation and you can thank Burnie Burns for this little nugget; “you have to cultivate discipline to get things done.” Said in a vlog titled " Burnie Vlog: How I Stay Motivated | Rooster Teeth."
 


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Oneseventyout
07-04-2018