Networking is one of the biggest things that everyone tells you to do after you start streaming. It’s important, it’s necessary if you want to grow your channel, everyone does it… But how exactly do you get started? And what are the things to avoid? You weren’t trained for this!
Don’t worry, networking is so much easier than it sounds. First of all, you need to understand what it means to network and why there’s so much fuss about it. Basically, networking is interacting with others. Simple as that. Hanging out in someone’s channel, hosting, raiding, commenting on their YouTube videos, keeping their chat going, liking their Twitter posts… all of those things are a part of it.
Ok, now that we got this covered you may be wondering why it is so important to network. You have your own channel to think about and you don’t really have that much time to spare. The answer is simple — you need networking to get to know people around you. The introvert in you is probably cringing at the very thought of this idea already (I know I did at first), but stay with me for a second here. You’d like to learn new things about streaming, grow your community, have someone to raid you, pop into your chat and say ‘Hi!’ to you from time to time. Sounds great, right? Well, that is exactly what networking is aiming at. To build a group of people with common interests and goals that can help each other out. Investing some time in getting to know other streamers may just be the greatest thing about your streaming adventure.
So…are you ready? Here are your basic do’s and don’ts to start you out:
Do make friends
Networking is all about finding people to share your streaming experience with, so take the first step, get out there and start browsing live streams of your favorite games. If you find a streamer that has a similar amount of viewers and their channel feels welcoming, just say ‘Hi!’ and hang out with them for a while. Make a conversation and get to know them. Do they always stream this game? Who is their favorite character? Are they looking forward to the next update?
It will work out much better if you make an effort to find streamers with a channel closer to your own channel’s size and then try to grow your communities together. Introduce your regulars to each other, do a quick raid every now and then, have a co-op stream if you feel like it and most importantly: have fun together!
DON’T expect everyone to follow you
This is something that should be common sense: not everyone will be inclined to hang out and follow you. Maybe they are already a part of a gaming group, maybe they want to focus on growing their channel alone or maybe they just don’t feel like it. Whatever their reason, not everyone wants to network and it’s ok if they think it’s not for them.
Also, when you first reach out to people, try to avoid focusing on bigger streamers. They probably have many other things going on, especially if they already are a part of an existing stream team. Their channels are growing at much faster rate, things are hectic and they may not have a great amount of time to spend on building new connections. They are busy, no hard feelings, we understand.
DO stay in touch
Networking is not a hit and run. It takes time to connect with other people, get to know them and become a part of their community. Popping into a stream just once and not visiting ever again is not exactly going to cut it. If you found a streamer you enjoy watching, give them a follow and visit them from time to time. Talk to them, keep their chat going if it’s a bit slow, welcome people when they say ‘Hi!’. The streamer will notice you and, hopefully, appreciate the help. Then, when you feel comfortable enough to do it, send a raid or a host their way and, if they ever decide to do the same, give them a great welcome and introduce them to your viewers.
Just remember, networking never ends. Don’t stop visiting people after they’ve added you to their auto host list. They WILL notice and they won’t be happy about that.
This is a big one. The massive ‘no-no’ for any streamer out there. Never go into a channel just to say ‘Hi! I’m going to be streaming in 5 minutes, come watch me!’. Anything along those lines is not networking — it’s just a shortcut to be permabanned from a channel in less than 5 seconds. Most channels have strict rules about auto promotion, so make sure you know what is ok to say in chat before you post anything.
Also, consider the following situation: a person that is brand new to your stream pops in and starts bragging about their own channel. They talk about how many viewers they had last time, they throw some jokes you don’t quite get because they are so out of context and then they try to post their last 10 clips in chat, even though you don’t allow links. It’s a bit rude and out of place.
Here’ a different one for you: one of your regulars really wants to start streaming. He is considering the microphone he should get, asks you for advice on what games to play and how to get the commentary going. He’s super excited and raids you after his first stream. Totally different experience, right?
When you first visit a new stream don’t straight up announce that you are a streamer too. When someone is live it’s all about them, not you. Talk to them, get to know them and let them know that you’re a streamer later on. It will be much more natural if they find out with a host or if you mention it when it’s relevant to the topic being discussed in chat.
DO follow their social media
Lots of streamers are not limited to just Twitch and YouTube and they have a choice of other social media accounts. They may be posting their photos on Instagram or getting busy with Twitter. If you happen to be active on any of those platforms go give them a follow and keep up to date with what they post. You never know if there’s something interesting happening there. The same applies to game companies — you don’t want to miss out on that new update that everyone will be talking about for the whole next week, so keep in touch (it’s networking after all)!
DON’T make it all about yourself
Don’t get too needy and greedy when it comes to networking. It’s easy to forget that networking is a two way street. It wouldn’t work if only one of the people involved got all the benefits of it. If someone added you to their auto host list — add them to yours as well. They gave you that amazing raid on your birthday? Pop in to their next stream and thank them! It’s all about giving back and reinforcing the relationship that you have. Spread the love!
DO join their Discord
If you don’t have a Discord channel yet you should really get on that and make one. You can do it here. There’s a good reason many streamers have one — it’s great for keeping the community engaged, talking to you and each other. You can link your Steam and show off what you’re playing, you can link your Twitch and it will automatically show everyone that you’re streaming. Did I mention that Discord is just great?
Since Discord — Twitch integration will show you as streaming in every Discord that you joined it’s great to be an active member of at least a few channels. This doesn’t apply only to streamers — a majority of game developers and game communities also have their own Discord to connect with players.
Also, many streamers have a separate channel in their Discord dedicated to shoutouts and notifications for other streamers. Just make sure to read the rules before you post anything. If you are not sure about something — just ask. People will be happy to help.
DON’T talk to only one person
First attempts at networking may be a bit overwhelming. You need to get out there, find new people to talk to and you are the one taking the first step. It is hard and a bit nerve wracking. But what if I told you that you need to talk to more than one person at a time? Now that is properly scary! Don’t worry though, I swear that it’s easier than it sounds and it gets better really quick.
The reason why you should talk to more than one person is that it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. When you find new streamers to hang out with you may not see the whole picture straight away. What if you spent 2 weeks talking to someone and they suddenly decide to have a few months break from streaming? Or they are just not the type of person you want to share your community with?
Try and find at least a few people you may want to watch and start being active in their chat. See how they behave on stream, decide if you’d like to be friends with them and commit some time to build a relationship with them. Also, if you have a few new friends you can introduce them to each other! The more the merrier.
Getting out there and interacting with people gets easier as you go. Every message that you send brings you closer to being more and more and more comfortable with the idea of networking. Just keep at it!
DO give back and say ‘Thank you’
Saying ‘Thank you’ is a common courtesy, but not everyone remembers to do it. It is so simple and it doesn’t cost anything, yet it makes a great difference in how people look at us.
Did someone raid you? Say ‘Thank you’. Did they follow you? Say ‘Thank you’. For anything nice that requires any effort on anyone’s part — say ‘Thank you’. It feels great to hear it. It can make your day. It will make you remember the person that said it in a better light. After all, you want to be the person that appreciates what people do for you and you want people to know that. This will not only make networking so much easier for you, it will also make people like you way more.
DON’T be afraid to let go
Sometimes networking doesn’t go so great. Maybe the person that you started hanging out with has a bad vibe, disrespects his followers, creates unnecessary drama around the channel or supports things that you don’t quite agree with. Or maybe your characters are just too different and your relationship just doesn’t works out quite like it should. When that happens, remember — it’s ok to let go and say your goodbyes.
Be true to what you feel is right, but try to make sure that you are not causing problems to the other channel with your departure. Gossip and drama don’t really help anyone!
Let’s go and do some networking!
Now that you have all the do’s and don’ts you should be able to start your networking in no time. Look for people that you enjoy watching. Talk to them and get to know them well. Learn from them.
Go, meet new people and have fun!