I derive a ton of joy and fulfillment helping others achieve success. Unfortunately, I'm incapable of separating my personal and professional lives. For most of my adult life, those two identities were very different with little or no overlap existed between communities and interests. It was very tiring maintaining these two lives, and I often prioritized the professional life over my personal life.
When I entered the video game industry in 2011, it was the first time I felt my personal and professional lives overlapped. The gaming industry was undergoing rapid growth and change due to the rise of mobile phones and increased Internet access. People were trying to make sense of the new paradigm. Lots of experimentation across the gaming ecosystem from development to distribution.
Eventually, those professional connections evolved into "friends." I am still in touch with many of them to this day. When someone in the industry asks for help even for non-gaming items, a vast majority will raise their hand asking - "How can I help?" - without expecting anything in return.
Values transform connections into relationships
Why did I feel such strong alignment with the gaming industry community compared to others? It really came down to values.
The gaming industry celebrates and rewards creativity. Games are an expressive artistic medium. Weaving together visuals, gameplay, narrative and themes to create engaging, interactive stories and worlds requires a lot of creativity.
People in the gaming industry has a deep sense of pride and ownership over their work. In my opinion, games are the most complex and difficult consumer products to build. It requires a lot of time and resources to build a world that engage players meaningfully. Like players, developers are very passionate about their projects.
The gaming industry influences culture and technology, so it was easier for me to stay in touch with my personal life. Games make it surprisingly easy to connect with strangers of all ages and backgrounds.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the gaming industry sufficiently aligned with every one of my core values.
How do I develop authentic connections?
Building your social capital - the ability to build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships - is more critical than your ability to build financial capital. Seeking out and collaborating with others who share your interests and values will provide a stronger foundation, enabling you to reach a higher level of success than you would on your own.
It is human nature to feel like you belong somewhere. It's the same in business. Business is done between people. If you're new to an industry or role, you may have the itch to reach out and meet as many new people as possible.
But... if you don't prepare and plan for these meetings ahead of time, it's not going to be much different than a bad first date. Positive relationships are built on shared values and interests.
Instead of reaching out to everyone all at once, you can group your prospects by similar interests, schedule those meetings within the same time period, and tailor your conversation topics to dive into those interests.
In this way, you avoid context switching between every meeting. You do not have to scramble on LinkedIn to figure out your conversation topics. I personally like to bucket my meetings within two weeks, so I have enough can reflect on my Week 1 meetings and leverage those learnings into talking points or questions for Week 2 meetings. Before you know it, these individuals are making references to people and topics you are planning to meet or already familiar with.
You will run into people you don't vibe with, and that's okay. Now you can understand why you didn't vibe with them to begin with. Thank you for reading. If you think others will find this helpful, please share with them.