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Becoming A Stellar Games Industry Manager : Networking And Negotiation
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Becoming A Stellar Games Industry Manager : Networking And Negotiation


August 16, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next
 

[Game HR veteran Marc Mencher is continuing his 'Games Industry Manager' series on Gamasutra, previously including 'Building A Great Team' and 'Learning To Be An Influencer', with this article discussing the art of negotiation and collaboration for today's game industry manager.]

Social interaction presents designers of online games with some of their most difficult challenges. How do you design a realistic and flexible economy that can survive despite the best efforts of players who use their influence to command the flow of goods and services? How do you provide players with an opportunity to influence the direction and possibly the outcome of the story through their avatars’ actions without weakening the overall player experience or the integrity of the story? These are only two examples that can validate how skillfully the people on all sides of the game’s production have asserted their influence through their communication skills.

Networking

Today, you hear the word “network” everywhere. Social networks are more or less organized connections between people with interests in common, like MMO guilds, participants in Internet chat rooms or friends and acquaintances at parties, conventions, business meetings. A network can also be a list of names in an address book or people in an online e-group. It also refers to television companies, linked transmitting stations, wires or filaments or veins or even sewers that are linked or interconnected. In the business world, networking involves making contact with other people and it’s one of the most important skills of successful influencers. Some people have made it a habit to form partnerships and cultivate alliances across a broad spectrum of abilities, locations and interests.

Networking opportunities crop up pretty much 24/7 -- while you’re waiting for an elevator, standing in line for coffee, traveling, shopping in the supermarket, even going to another floor of the building where you work. If you take even a few minutes to introduce yourself to someone and exchange small talk about anything from the weather to your favorite sports team to who got whacked in last night’s crime drama, you’re networking. More formal opportunities for meeting people include training sessions, special interest groups, media briefings, conventions and of course social gatherings. Helping people connect on the Internet has turned into its own business with virtual business cards, pop-up reminders and a host of ways to get ahead professionally and socially through others -- and an opportunity for networking is an opportunity to exercise influence.

Making Connections

While creating connections within any business or social environment is important, maintaining them is crucial. Timing is everything, so it’s important to learn how to insert yourself into a conversation. We’ve all experienced the uncomfortable encounter with someone who barges into the chat, whether virtual or real time, and starts nattering away without regard for what else might be occurring. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the ebb and flow of a conversation.

Wait until people are between topics, or have made a definite pause in their speaking before introducing yourself. If you’re in a group, match what you say to what has just been said and, if at all possible, do so gently humorously. Non-sequitur introductions are awkward and can make you look insensitive and egotistical. Mention things you have in common like a mutual acquaintance but never imply that you have more of a relationship than you do. This will blow up in your face more times than not. People can usually spot a phony name-dropped a mile away -- and with your luck, the person whose name you’re dropping is the best friend of the person to whom you are speaking!

Another important part of networking is introducing people to each other. It not only helps build alliances but also shows that you’re interested in other people. Help the people who work for you learn the right way to network. Many years ago at a GDC, an industry luminary gave a presentation to a packed house. After the talk, an assistant producer who would never have had the courage to introduce himself to the speaker did so because his executive producer encouraged him –- and it turned out that the famous speaker was very gracious, thereby making the encounter even better!

Carry business cards with you all the time. You never know when someone will ask you for one (or when you might need a piece of paper – how convenient that you’ll have something with your information on it!) If you aren’t so good at remembering names, it will be really helpful to have the business card to jot down a few notes on the back. Maintain contact details of everyone you meet, including phone, email, job title and location. Whether you use one of the networking services or a simple database program, it’s useful to be able to sort your contacts in a variety of ways, like companies, area(s) of expertise in the industry or mutual acquaintances.

Remember when you were a kid and your mom made you write thank-you notes? Whether it’s a handwritten note or a quick email, that kind of courtesy never goes out of style. Follow up an initial meeting with a new acquaintance as soon as possible. Send a short email to say how pleased you were to meet. The rewards may not be apparent at the time but they’re definitely worth the effort. These are great ways to create a positive impression and help people remember who you are in a good way, which is an important part of successful networking.


Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

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