No streamer is an island — Networking 101
So you started streaming and all is fine and dandy. But — how do you grow and what has networking to do with that? How do you create meaningful yet professional relationships with other creators? And: Is it really worth it?
What is Networking and what are the goals of it?
The simple and not really helpful answer is that networking is the creation and maintaining of professional, synergetic relationships with others. But there’s a lot more to it than this basic categorisation; it’s the diplomatic floor of interacting with other content creators if you will.
In short the goal is that you strife to create scenarios with other content creators for mutual benefit. The simplest initial form can be, for example, raiding others at the end of your stream after priming your viewers about what you personally like about the streamer you are raiding — and sticking around for a moment. But: This is rather one-sided, isn’t it? So how do we actually establish mutual benefit?
How do I start Networking?
TL;DR: Networking is not screaming into a void, hoping that somebody suddenly will answer. Networking is an investment without granted return — but absolutely worth it. Start by reflecting your own skills, approach others openly and take your time. Neither Rome nor friendships are built in a day.
Before we go out and simply approach others we have to start with ourselves. Synergy requires us to bring something to the table and not knowing your own strengths will severely hinder you. So: Be honest with yourself. Note down what you have to offer in various ways that will benefit those working with you. Good news for new streamers: This should definitely go beyond follower counts — but they can factor in as well.
Here are a few examples of how to use various skills for networking:
- Your strength is having a great entertainment persona and you are able to crack respectful (and sometimes slightly troll-y) jokes to somebody streaming? Great! Chat interactions are a nice way to engage especially if they also bring other chat members to interact with the streamer.
- Your galactic tech-nerd brain notices some tech-issues while watching a stream and know how to fix them? Nice — go and drop a PM. Do not, however, call out people. :)
- You are really good at recognizing funny and interesting situations that would make a nice clip for their social media? Do them a favour and clip it for them.
The difference between typing /raid and actually doing the above is that you will have meaningful interactions — not just a short shout out but creating a foundation to build relationships. It takes a lot time and effort to do so; a resource we are all relatively short on. Let’s elaborate on a couple of other possible approaches. Ensure however that nobody is taking advantage of you.
Networking on 3rd Party Platforms
TL;DR: If you want to meet other streamers on “neutral ground” (as in: Not your nor their stream) it is advisable to be clear in your communication to have a short portfolio, to have a clear goal.
You made it this far — so: Have a meme! Well, let’s also use it as premise for networking outside of your stream — such as on r/streaming or the r/streaming Discord.
Forming new networks is a really hard task (but it gets easier once you’ve started!) if you try to approach it sole on the merits of talking to a single person without being able to even gauge their interest in forming a connection. Therefore it is rather beneficial to also approach networking in dedicated spaces where you know that everybody is looking for the same thing as you are currently: Making new contacts, finding new professional friends.
To make it as easy as possible to approach others — and to be approached — you should aim to have some material that represents you. This will also become handy a bit later in this guide when we talk about how to network with companies; investing a bit of time in this is a good call, yet there is no need to be perfect. Think about how you would approach a dating app: Which are the best qualities you want to show to somebody that will likely only have a few moments before deciding if they want to talk to you or not?
There is no template for a streamers portfolio — it’s about you as a person after all — but there are some Do’s and Don’t:
- Have an interesting channel trailer on your Twitch/YouTube/Twitter/Facebook (at least as pinned post)
- Have relevant information about you available. (The journalistic 4 w’s are a good pointer: Who are you, what are you doing, when are you doing it and where?)
- Create a LinkTree/beacon/withkoji/website that consolidates all relevant links. (Socials, Artistic Portfolio, Show reel, business website)
- Have a professional e-mail available (sorry, xXxbabeslayer1337xXx@gmail.com won’t do); for more casual networking your Discord contact information
- Be friendly if somebody asks you a question, even if it seems rudimentary to you.
- Respect when others do not see your content fitting / decline your offer.
- Post links to your stuff without context.
- Make fun of others.
- “Looking for somebody to vibe with.” (gosh, at least explain your vibe!)
- Exaggerate / Lie about how good and great you are. Even if you are: Arrogance doesn’t help with new partnerships.
As for goals they can be rather varied. Sure, primary goals such as “Growing my viewership” are valid but having a secondary, personal goal will absolutely help you with engaging. Ask yourself “What can I learn from others that I work with? What can I teach them?” might be a good start.
Networking with Businesses
TL;DR: All of the tips above apply but you might want to take some extra steps. Also companies need numbers to effectively make decisions. For the love of everything that’s holy: Please write full sentences.
No matter if you want to approach a developer for keys to review / show their game on stream without the additional need to pay, a hardware company for a sponsorship or reach out to a lifestyle brand to see if there’s the possibility of cross promotion: A healthy understanding of networking will provide you with a better approach.
Directly from the perspective of somebody who worked for a company that got approached often by streamers: a lot of those inquires are getting refused because of the sheer unprofessional approach by content creators. While it might sound unfair at first ask yourself this: If you can’t take the time to write a respectful and complete E-Mail why should I, as a potential partner, entrust you with professionally representing us in a partnership? This is not to say that you absolutely cannot make mistakes — however make sure that the recipient is able to see that you put in effort.
Besides your own 4 w’s — see above — you will need to make sure that you also research your potential partners 4 w’s:
- Who should I talk to? (Community Manager, Public Relations Department)
- What does their company do with other content creators? (Youtube/Twitch/Instagram/TikTok research)
- What is my reach? (Followers are only an indicator; make sure to include things like viewer numbers, age, nationality — essentially everything your Dashboard can provide you)
- How are they understanding their own brand and can I represent those “values”?
It might be of value for yourself to maintain an account on LinkedIn for that. While LinkedIn is certainly out of scope for this 101 guide keep all the other tips in mind: Stay professional and respectful, don’t message people just for fun, don’t go on sprees adding people just because they have a contact in common.
Relationship vs. Contact: Established Networking
TL;DR: Once you are established just showing up can be enough. Reaching this point will, however, likely take hundreds of hours of streaming — and that’s good!
Especially in the beginning — when you are starting and don’t have a reputation yet — it is beneficial to get into building relationships like outlined above. But after a while you will reach a point when you’ll likely be to busy to invest a lot of time to form relationships any more but to simply have contact. The business world equivalent would be to merely “exchange business cards” — basically to see and be seen.
Let’s say, for the sake of an example, you play a certain type of game — to an extend where you are starting to get recognition by others in the games scene, either because you are just really good or really fun to watch while failing. At this point your approach will change. Just showing up — also to peoples streams with smaller viewership — will start to be beneficial to both sides with a decreased need for you to use your time. LPT: Listen to your followers and friends about other stuff they might watch and enjoy, heck, even encourage those close to you to tell you who they like!
Just imagine how it would have felt for you if a streamer with 10 times the followers joined your stream, chatting for a moment and saying “Cool stream dude!”. This already will create the win-win we’re looking for: You are giving some of your stream-cred to a smaller creator who will be super happy about you showing up — encouraging their viewers to get in contact with you as a personality. It will also put you in a position where you are seen as an empowering force; giving you more leeway in interactions and support from the community as a whole since you demonstrated your good intentions. This obviously also extends to interactions on other platforms: Retweeting, commenting, sharing are all great ways to be present as a creator with quite a bit less effort then making another video. However: Only do this if you actually have good intentions.
All of the above are general tips and there are many topics that I haven’t even touched on. Especially topics like IRL Meetups might require an additional guide — however this (way to long) text should provide you with a solid orientation about networking for you to build upon. If there is anything unclear or you’ve got feedback — reach out! You can message me either on Discord (arcas#3614 / add me as a friend first) or via E-Mail (synthie_cat at posteo dot eu / no business inquires) — I’d gladly expand on this if there is additional interest.
About the Author
Hi, I am synthie_cat — synthie is fine — and only started streaming in April 2022. Besides just picking up the hobby recently I have 15 years of experience in professional video games and hardware marketing in senior positions for internationally leading brands. I am hoping that I can share some of my experience with you — and make clear that you are always welcome to reach out with additional questions.