Convention Tips for Content Creators

Just in time for TwitchCon, you may be attending your first convention or perhaps you’ve been before but you want to make sure you are getting the most out of it. Conventions are by far the best way to network and forge incredible relationships with fellow content creators, developers, community managers, Twitch staff, and more. However, knowing what to bring and how to go about networking is not easy to learn on your own. That’s why we are going to provide you with everything you need to know for attending conventions as a content creator.

Preparation

  • Business cards
    • You should start thinking about creating a business card a few months in advance and order your cards at least three weeks in advance if you want to avoid rushed shipping
    • Moo and VistaPrint are great sites for ordering business cards
    • Don’t create an abnormal card size, stick to the standard unless you want your card to be the first one that gets lost or thrown out because it’s too small or too large to fit in a wallet
    • Make sure to list who you are and what you do, a professional e-mail, your Twitter handle, and your stream handle. Usernames for messaging services like Skype and Discord are helpful, but careful not to overload your card.
    • Set to buy at least 100 business cards. Better to have too many than to run out.
    • Purchase a business card holder so the cards you have on hand don’t bend or scratch.
  • Travel
    • Don’t wait until the last minute to book flights and hotel. Prices climb dramatically leading up to a convention and hotels WILL sell out. You don’t want to have to take a 30 minute taxi ride to and from the convention each day.
  • Make a checklist
    • License/ID, if you’re traveling internationally don’t forget your passport.
    • Business cards
    • Comfortable shoes (get some inserts if you don’t have, they’re a lifesaver) and appropriate clothing (check the weather).
    • Bring semi-formal wear for evening dinners and parties. Even if you don’t have plans, an invite may fall into your hands and you’ll want to be prepared.
    • Electronic chargers and a portable battery pack, unless you don’t mind your phone dying by the afternoon.
  • Establish a gameplan
    • What is your GOAL for the convention? What companies do you want to meet with? What games do you want to establish a working relationship with?
    • Jot down a list and, if possible, their booth locations. PAX usually has a map and booth directory on their mobile app.
  • Schedule appointments
    • Companies showcasing their game or product at a convention have appointments available for press and content creators to talk to a community manager or even demo the product.
    • Spots are usually limited and fill up quickly, but it never hurts to ask.
    • How to find opportunities? Always keep an eye on Twitter. Reach out to companies you’re interested in a month before the convention or earlier. Ask if they will be there and if appointments are available. Include your pitch! Tell them who you are, why you are interested in them and include links to your stream, YouTube, Twitter, etc so they can find you.
    • Be careful about overlapping appointments. There’s a chance they could go overtime and you’ll want to give yourself wiggle room to search for your next meeting. Don’t forget, you’ll want to take breaks to rest and eat too so trying to book every hour isn’t wise. You have multiple days, space out your appointments!
    • Avoid making plans or appointments for early day one if you are new to the venue to give yourself some time to learn the layout and find the booths.
  • Create and rehearse an elevator pitch
    • This is a direct, 30-60 second pitch explaining who you are, what you do, why you’re important, and what you want. The last part will vary depending on who you are talking to, but in short, you should be able to tell someone the important and relevant bits about yourself, given a small window of opportunity.
    • This is NOT always the best approach to introducing yourself. It’s typically far better to establish a genuine conversation with someone first, but if the person is clearly in a rush or pressed for time, having a pitch rehearsed and prepared is a handy tool.
  • Organization
    • Create a calendar that works for you that outlines your travel arrangements and schedule.
    • Let your followers know your schedule with a pinned social media post. Where can they find you at the convention? Can they find you on a stream?
    • Make sure your Twitter profile is a real and CLEAR picture of you to help with people identifying you.
    • Be prepared to not have service or wifi on the convention floor so make your schedule and any pertinent information available in an offline format. You can use the Notes app on your phone, take a picture, or write it down.
    • If you have tickets for a party or evening event, have pictures of those or if it’s on Eventbrite, have the app downloaded and your account logged in.
    • Plan for swag/goodies. Either leave some extra space in your bag, have a plan for shipping, or bring an extra bag. You’ll usually get some really cool, free stuff at conventions and there will be more available for purchase. Set a budget!

Health & Safety

  • Drink water and plenty of it. You’re going to be moving around and talking all day. Plus if you’ve consumed alcohol the night before or plan on later that day, your body will dehydrate very quickly. Stay on top of your game and drink water throughout the event.
  • Speaking of alcohol, don’t overdo it. Not only for your safety but if you’re taking the convention seriously, you don’t want to make a fool of yourself in front of fellow industry professionals and you don’t want to miss half a day on the convention floor (or even worse, an appointment) because you’re too hungover.
  • More on alcohol, do not accept drinks from strangers and do not leave your drink unattended at any time. Though this may sound like an overbearing parent’s word of advice, having drugs slipped into drinks is, unfortunately, more common than you would think.
  • Another thing you shouldn’t accept from strangers or viewers/fans is food items. People poisoning or inserting hazardous materials in food products happens too, sadly.
  • Back to alcohol, bring and use hand sanitizer. Germs will be everywhere, and you’ll be shaking hands and bumping into bodies. Avoid putting your hands on your face or in your mouth.
  • Besides the fact we care about you and don’t want you getting sick, it’s also costly to your business if you aren’t streaming for several days to attend a convention and then missing additional time because you got sick.
  • The real secret to avoiding illness? Echinacea. Seriously. Start taking it a few days before the convention, during, and a week afterward.

On the Convention Floor

  • Your first experience at a convention can be overwhelming, there are lots of people and lots of booths. Take a few laps and try to familiarize yourself with the setup.
  • Be aware, often venues have multiple floors and rooms!
  • If you’re a Twitch streamer, find that glorious purple Twitch booth. Name tags will be available, definitely make sure to wear a name tag each day of the convention. Print your username clearly!
  • Introducing Yourself and Conversing
    • Recognizing body language is incredibly important. If the person you want to talk to is talking to someone else, don’t just walk up and butt yourself into the conversation. Stand a few feet back and wait patiently. If the conversation is casual they might invite you in to join or say hi. If it looks serious or some time has passed, consider walking away and trying your luck another time.
    • Don’t just give a cold pitch. Open a genuine conversation and treat the person you are talking to like a fellow human being, not an object. Sometimes it’s better to just get to know someone at a convention, exchange business cards, and save your pitch for the follow-up email.
    • Don’t ask about someone’s subscriber, follower, or viewer count.
    • Don’t attempt to discern if the person you are talking to is “important” or not. This goes with the previous point. Treat everyone like a person. You never know where that small streamer will end up in a year or if that indie PR rep gets a new job at a major AAA company. Again, just remember they are human beings too.
    • Don’t hesitate to reintroduce yourself when you see someone again throughout the convention, especially if it’s months later at a completely different event. It’s tough to remember everyone’s name, it won’t hurt to mention again who you are.
  • Approaching booths
    • Booths may have a walk-up desk or open spacing with employees moving about the space.
    • Find someone who works there and introduce yourself.
      • “Hey I’m <username> and I’m a streamer/content creator looking to check out <game/product name>. Is there someone I could talk to?
    • Try to figure out who you are looking for before approaching a booth. Who is the community manager? Influencer relations rep? If you have a name you are asking for you are more likely to get connected with the right person.
    • Most booths are lined up with appointments, so don’t be discouraged if they can’t see you. Ask for a business card and leave them yours so you can connect with them in the future.
    • Indie booths are golden opportunities to make your first steps towards these types of interactions and forging networking opportunities. Try starting there first.
    • Do you have a friend attending the event that knows someone you’d like to meet? Ask them if they would help with an introduction.
    • Pairing up with a buddy can help conquer your nervousness!

Evening Festivities

  • Remember not to overdrink.
  • Dress to impress! It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Check to see if your evening plans have set attire.
  • Bring your business cards. Always.

Post Convention

  • Keep taking that echinacea!
  • It’s time to go through your collected business cards and find your new friends on Twitter.
  • Followup Emails
    • Wait about 2-3 days post-con for followup emails.
    • Personalize your emails and remind the recipient who you are by recounting part of your conversation with them or where you were; they likely met with a ton of people and may have forgotten exactly who you are.
    • It’s okay to be more business-oriented here. How would you like to work with your new contact in the future?

If listening instead of reading is more of your thing, we talked with iKasperr sharing convention tips and answering questions on The Stream Scene.