Hi everyone! My name is Lily and I am a Business Development Manager at Andovar’s Bangkok office. I recently went to GDC and Game Connection events in the USA for the first time and I wanted to share a few insights with you.
Being new to the gaming conference scene, I needed to do my research before going. I knew about the gaming market and would read about trends and new technology on a daily basis as Gaming is a sector I target, but I didn’t really know much about these events and how to make them a success. I’ve read a number of different blog posts about people’s experiences of the GDC and how to prepare. They were useful and helped me plan for the unknown. But there were also a lot of things I didn’t read about and I would like to cover them here.
Before You Go!
I am based in our Asia office, and like many people going to GDC, had to overcome jetlag. My advice is to allow a few days to get over it as well as to see the beautiful sites of San Francisco. With the evening events, and the walking and talking you would do, you will need to be 100%.
Make as many meetings as you possible can, and once you get a meeting, make information sheets with the person’s picture and information about them and the company. Having a picture is useful when you’re in a crowded room or a bar looking for your client.
Try to plan your meetings in the same areas and times. I didn’t do this and I must have lost about 5lbs from walking from one side of the centre to the other.
I read about taking some comfortable shoes and clothes. This is right but you need to also remember that San Francisco has changeable weather so you need to bring a jumper and raincoat. Don’t be shy to take a backpack. It’s convenient and you will fit in. I hardly saw anyone with briefcases or handbags and most of the developers carry their equipment in backpacks.
The people that stood out the most were the ones who were dressed smart. Don’t worry about the “first impressions count” thing. Your knowledge and attitude will go a long way here. I wore jeans and a T-shirt on all days with a blazer when I needed to go out. I wish I brought a backpack as my handbag was not convenient to fit everything in.
The layout of this event was more focused on the developers getting a chance to pitch their games to investors and service providers exhibiting their range of skills. Unlike the GDC, people were busy most of the day with meetings and as there was only a small area per exhibitor, you couldn’t walk up and talk to others at the stand whilst they were having meetings.
My colleague and I had 10 meeting requests each and some of those we sent were not accepted. We found that strange as for GDC most of our meetings were accepted. As this is an event mainly focused on getting funding, most of the meetings people were having were to talk to potential investors. This means we found ourselves with some extra time between appointments. We walked around to see who was free and started to talk to them on the off chance. Most of the people attended GDC as well, so it was useful to see the faces of the people I was going to meet there.
I made sure I was booked up before I left Asia, but before the event I had a number of people cancel, not because they didn’t have the need but because this event is so big and everyone is super busy. So when I had the chance, I would go visit the stands and see if they wanted me to follow up after the event.
Have a reserve of meetings. Keep a list of meetings you have, but also a list of people you want to talk to. This helped me as sometimes meetings would last 10 minutes and I would have time to visit other stands.
There are a few restaurants around the corner to the Moscone Center and AT&T Park. But these are only advisable if you have an hour for lunch. For me, I only had 20-30 minutes free between meetings. So I ate at the venue which has a small selection of salads and sandwiches. Prices vary from 7-15 USD. This was great for me, as I networked while I ate lunch and I didn’t have to run to get food. If you are a picky eater, schedule time to leave the venue and find someplace to eat.
I went to a few evening events, some were even in Spanish (Hola!). I used the Eventbrite app beforehand and registered for as many events as I could. I spoke to a number of people about what events they were going to and made some appointments to meet with people at events if they were too busy during the day. Most of the events I went to were a chance for developers to demonstrate their new games. Some events offered free drinks and food and others didn’t. I found most of the people I needed to talk to: Production Managers, Producers and Content Managers were either in the VIP areas or didn’t attend at all. You would mostly see developers and programmers in the main arena and at the parties. It’s always good to speak to everyone as you will never know who they can connect you with.
Pitch and Equipment!
I read about shortening your pitch as much as possible beforehand and I did make a list of key points that makes Andovar stand out. But I adapted it as the day went by and each meeting had a different need or service. I found that some meetings I had took less than 5 minutes as I managed to catch people in-between appointments. Having a few valid points and questions to ask is always good. I had done my research before on each company and had questions I wanted answers to. I also took along my tablet and no leaflets or information to hand other than my cards. As I walked to the meetings I went over my questions and notes trying my best not to bump into people.
With the amount of meetings and information being given out, it’s easy to get lost, and using my tablet to show our experience, processes and company info helped me out a lot. It was also easier then carrying 15 different brochures. So I recommend taking a tablet with all the information sheets and examples to demonstrate to potential clients.
The event went well for me. I had some good meetings and I have had a good response afterwards. I think the key thing to remember is that everyone will be talking to a lot of people and you need to stand out. Apart from the range of services my company could bring to the client, I was also lucky that I am tall and British. My British accent and the relative lack of females at the event helped me stand out. There were some females at the event, but not a lot of female sales people. (I cannot confirm this, but we tend to be able to spot another BDM from a mile away and I only saw fellow BDM’s of the male variety). I would also sometimes visit a stand more than once and would always go and say hello to anyone I had met before.
Don’t expect everyone to remember you or to reply straight away. I asked each person when it would be best to email them the information and then made a note of it. Most people were flying back to their countries or going to another event. So this was crucial to ensure my emails didn’t get mixed up in the aftermath.
In nearly every Uber I used over the week I met someone with a need of our services. In the US you can Uber pool with other people going in the same direction. I got to meet other people either heading to the event or going home after the evening parties. Make sure you make conversation and find out what other people do. With SF being a tech-focused city there are prospects everywhere you go, even if they are not a decision maker. It’s much easier to ask who the best person is to talk to and you have a person who has referred you.
Overall it was a great experience and the events were worthwhile. It’s a great place to learn more about the industry but also a chance to get to know your clients face-to-face.