Your Twitch channel is a business. While it should always be a hobby first and foremost, you will need to treat your channel like a business if you want to succeed. One of the most important steps in the early days of any business is networking. Networking on Twitch is usually overlooked but can be the most important factor in quickly growing your stream.
Networking, simply put, is the act of making friends in the industry. You are networking when you are actively searching out people for the benefit of your business. For Twitch streamers, networking is absolutely crucial. While your primary focus should always be on great content, networking is the second most important step in gaining a following. In this article, we’ll discuss why that is, and go over the dos and don’ts of good networking.
Why Networking Is Important
First, we have to clear away a common misconception about networking. When you’re developing your network, you are doing it wrong if your intentions are hidden, or if you feel like you’re being fake. The key to networking is developing long term, honest relationships with people who have similar goals.
You’ll find many of the “dos” on the list will develop from this idea. When you have developed a strong network of like minded people, the advantages are innumerable. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all the ships.
The best role models to look to as far as networking goes in the content creation world are the Vlog Brothers. YouTube channel Charisma on Command published a video earlier in 2017 about their brilliant and honest network forging and how it launched them into superstardom.
John and Hank refer to their fans, friends and themselves as “Nerdfighters.” By positioning themselves in the center of a community, the two saw a significant rise in views and engagement. Having a great network makes people watch, because they want to be part of something bigger. With the additional help of the morals of the brothers, the Nerdfighters became a positive factor in the lives of many. The cultivation of a positive community cemented their reputation as leaders.
At the same time, the host of other YouTubers that worked with the Vlog Brothers helped them launch into new categories, and find new fans. Without getting too far into the numbers, consider a venn diagram of your viewers and any other streamer. For hypothetical purposes, let’s say that you have 25 subscribers and so does that streamer. Barring a very strange series of events, it’s unlikely that those are the same 25 people. If only 12 of them are shared, you each gain 13 new viewers (or 52% of your current viewership) by working together.
These things add up over time, and that’s why long term relationships are the most important. A one off can be fun and beneficial, but a person who can grow with their network is on the pathway to success. Tom Farley, current president of the New York Stock Exchange, had this to say about networking when he talked to Fortune.com:
Networking is about collecting relationships with interesting or influential people irrespective of the immediate benefit of these relationships. As it would happen, five years later, Jeff’s no-longer-fledgling business acquired the New York Board of Trade and he asked me to serve as President of this newly acquired business. Seven years after that, Jeff asked me to lead the New York Stock Exchange.
If networking correctly can get you a job as president of the New York Stock Exchange, it can probably get you more subscribers.
The Dos and Don’ts Of Good Networking
Networking is a fickle mistress. It’s one of the most intricate parts of business, and very difficult to do right one hundred percent of the time. With that being said, the most important piece of advice that I’m going to give you is to know when to follow the advice I’m about to give, and to work on your interpersonal skills. Whether you think you’re Rico Suave or you have crippling social anxiety, you have edges you can try to smooth out. Being personable and understanding the people you interact with is the cornerstone of networking.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, the first step in networking is to reach out to people. People can be found everywhere, but if you’re looking to network to streamers, get ready to get your hands dirty in chat.
Once you’re there, be a person first, and a fan second. Remember that you are trying to open conversation, and build a relationship. Get your foot in the door the same way you would with any person you meet, get to know other streamers as people and not personas.
Don’t aim too high when reaching out, though. With all things in life, self awareness is the most important skill you can have. Be aware of what league of streamers you are in. If you’re just starting out and fighting for your first few viewers, look for other people on the same level or just a step above at first. While it would be amazing to reach out to the Lirik’s of the world and get an instant bump of thousands of viewers, you’re going to have to work up to that point. At the end of the day, you need to be offering something.
As a matter of fact, try to offer the people in your network more than they offer you. Gary Vaynerchuk calls this the “51/49 principle.” By this principle, you should be offering the majority of the value in every deal that you make.
While we’re on the topic, remember to give back. Once you’ve developed a network and a following, you may grow ahead of some other people you’ve worked with. You may get asked to work with people who aren’t in your league. Remember that you were once at that level, and help them if you can. The golden rule applies everywhere, and there’s a lot of opportunity in being a good person.
Another great part of giving back, is that it will prevent you from looking like a leech. Don’t constantly stream with someone more popular than you. While streaming above your league is great because it should result in new viewers, if you’re working too much with one person you’ll come off as a mooch. You want to be part of a group, not an entourage.
Look for ways to natively collaborate on Twitch. While Twitch doesn’t have great integration for having several people on one stream, that hasn’t stopped anyone from doing it. Look for people to play games with you on stream, or to create podcasts, videos and other kinds of content with. This strategy is incredibly common with PUBG streamers because of the squad mode, and Wizards of the Coast runs a “Streamer Showdown” that has seen great returns for those involved. r/Twitch runs a monthly thread specifically to help people collaborate, and it’s a fantastic way to network.
Join a team. Twitch Teams, if you’re unfamiliar, is a sort of official endorsement of other streamers. When you join a team, your subs will see other team members streams on your channel, and vice versa. You can join several, and easily convert your personal network into one. There’s really no reason not to.
Don’t stay on Twitch for all of it. You are obviously going to be Twitch focused, but a lot of your networking is going to happen elsewhere. Redditor aucella wrote a very useful and short guide on how to use Twitter and YouTube to the best of your advantage, as well. Networking is all about getting people’s attention, so figure out where they are and get there. Another good place to look is game specific subreddits, message boards and other online communities. Anywhere people talk, you want to be.
Don’t assume the people talking will always be nice. This is a hard thing to accept, but not everyone wants to help you out. While most will after you reach out, be prepared to face rejection. If you can develop your interpersonal skills, however, you may be able to figure out how to turn these people around. Early in your networking days, you’ll likely want to try reaching out to as many people as possible instead of focusing on just one stubborn partner, however.
Finally, spamming is not networking. This is largely a rehash on points made above, but it bears repeating. You are looking to develop actual relationships with actual people. While you will both enter the relationship for mutual benefit, you are always hoping to walk away with a friend. Friends are worth more than dollars. You might get some attention by retweeting your stream link every 30 seconds with a different streamer mentioned, but you certainly won’t get friends. If you take it too far, it could even damage your reputation as a streamer in a way that will be very hard to recover from.
In conclusion, networking probably isn’t what you think it is. Networking is an incredibly important step in your career as a Twitch streamer, or really anything you choose to pursue. Learning how to develop a group of people behind a common goal, and how to offer and accept value from the friends you make is the first step on the ladder of success. And, if you’re lucky, it’ll make it a lot more fun, too.