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How to meet lots of people through LinkedIn

I’m winding down my last month in Seattle – sorry for the light blogging lately!

I’ve been very busy in the last week (and in the next 2 weeks) closing up shop in Seattle and meeting folks related to gaming and startups. One interesting question that pops up is, if you pick industry X, how do you meet lots of people who work in X. (In my case, it’s gaming)

Over the years, I’ve experimented with lots of different methods, but this time I tried a couple:

1) Subscribing to mailing lists and posting “Will you talk to me?”
Sometimes this works, but most of the time, you only get 2 or 3 people writing you back. I think the reason is that it seems random, people assume other people will help, and it’s generally a pain in the ass. I usually meet a couple through this method (in my case, spamming the IGDA mailing list) but this didn’t work well.

2) E-mailing friends and contacts at gaming companies
I also just e-mailed a bunch of friends and asked them to introduce me to people involved in gaming. This definitely worked, and I had at least 5 referrals this way, whom I’ve met for coffee. I think this completely depends on how “adjacent” the industry is – for example, if I’m in tech and I want to meet folks in video games, that’s not too bad. But if I wanted to meet people in the coffee or restaurant industry, that might be a lot harder since the connections are fewer.

3) Searching through LinkedIn and googling
It turns out, however, that the fastest way to meet a bunch of people is to use a combination of LinkedIn and Google. You use LinkedIn to see peoples’ names and companies – but you have no contact information. But then you follow up with Google and you can often find their e-mail address, or e-mail addresses for other folks within the same company (John.Doe@somecompany.com lets you guess their e-mail address) and finally, you can always e-mail the company address and specify the full name of the person you’re trying to reach.

This method has produced the most meetings out of any – you can easily use LinkedIn to find dozens of names, send brief e-mails with topics and ask to chat, and find at least a dozen folks willing to talk to you.

Definitely an interesting recent experiment, and I’m well on my way to understanding the gaming industry better. I’ll write up a post on what I’ve learned sometime later. Needless to say, the games industry is undergoing the same big revolutions as music, movies, and other digital goods.

The power of the mainstream publisher is both a stifling force on innovation, yet their power is diminishing over time. New models are emerging which focus on the idea of consumer choice, and having infinite choice, rather than traditional models which focus on finite shelf space (or screen space).

It definitely links to Chris Anderson’s idea of the Economics of Abundance rather than the Economics of Scarcity.

Here’s another great presentation on the topic from Raph Koster.

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