How important is networking in esports for a job?

It’s estimated that a large portion of jobs are unadvertised and in esports I’d say the number is even higher than regular industries.

Off the top of my head, I can count on one hand where I’ve posted an actual job in esports for over several dozen events with BEAT esports. All the people I found / were looking for came via word of mouth or on a reputation basis. This includes graphics design, administrators, talent, broradcasting, production, backend developers and more.

The vice versa is also true, even though I was not actively looking, I have been approached for various roles and advisory positions based on networking in esports. The jobs ranged from doing esports project management, doing white label tournament organization, being an admin, being an advisor to a group looking to get into esports and you get the picture. While I do not know the exact percentage of unposted jobs in the esports industry, it is VERY high.

If you’re looking at getting into the esports industry or to learn more about it. The best advice I can give is just get involved, grow your network organically, do great work and be reliable. While there are no guarantees, eventually you should meet some people who you enjoy working with and who will do or are doing big things in esports.

For example, as a passion project of mine (I was in banking at the time and it paid well, but I wanted more out of life since I was really young) I decided to run a fansite called Dota 2 Canada with my business partner Anthony. It was a forum and we posted news about Dota 2. We quickly realized that reddit was gaining an incredible amount of popularity and that our site would soon be dead. We instead pivoted to tournament organization. Our first tournament was for $100 with forum members and a group of friends and myself were on one of the teams. We got smoked out of the tournament our first series. However, watching the tournament really got my interest in doing tournaments up on a consistent basis and we then grew Dota 2 Canada into a popular North and South American tournament series. Even though our first few tournaments were not so great, we had fun, met a ton of current industry people, we learned a lot and I learned how to become a way better tournament organizer for future seasons. If I had done professional tournaments off the bat as a tournament organizer in esports it would have been much different.

What I’m getting at is that, the people who we met early on in these tournaments we organized, naturally evolved into people WE STILL TALK TO today. That’s right, almost a decade later, 1 re-brand into BEAT, 6 different game titles and we still speak with some of the same people who did our initial tournaments with.

Now why is this important? This is important because the people you meet and network with today, are going to be key in the future potentially. A lot may move on to different things, may disappear or may not be involved in esports anymore. However, it’s important to take who you meet, leave your mark with a good impression and stay in touch to see if you can help or they can help you etc. Make sure it’s a mutual relationship with respect!

Tips for networking in esports

  • Get an interest of what you’d like to do. It’ll be easier to network. Example, if you like watching TI – Go to a bar crawl, introduce yourself, make some friends, ask what they do. You never know who you’ll meet!
  • Volunteer somewhere – Many places are looking for volunteers in esports. It’s a great opportunity to meet industry professionals and also network with fellow enthusiasts. A weekend of volunteering is great experience. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for though and don’t get taken advantage of
  • Create something, if you’re unsure you want to get involved in any of the existing space, make something! If you’re a developer, make a stats website, learn an API, show off your portfolio, start networking and showing off your work. IF you’re in graphics design, make a photo of your favourite team and show it off. If you’re a video editor, make a top 10 highlight video and keep working on it. Be tactful and polite though.
  • Ask! Just ask industry professionals! Most will take time to answer an email, discuss a topic that you’re both passionate about and offer advice. If you’re sincere and polite about it there’s absolutely no harm
  • If you’re a student, look for an esports club and if it doesn’t exist, try to make one
  • Be natural – you just met someone you look up to in the industry, be natural and don’t sweat it. They’re human too and we’ve all been there. Just relax, introduce yourself and have a discussion
  • Don’t give me a sales pitch 5 seconds in – it’s about relationship building. If the chance comes up mention your business or what you’re working on more tactfully. If you’re looking for advice, you can say “Hey, I’m looking for advice for my business in esports, as someone who has been in the industry a while can I get some advice?” works a lot better than “Here’s my business, I value it at XYZ dollars, how do I get investors?”
  • Don’t hijack the conversation or interrupt a conversation if you’re looking to talk to someone. Chances are it’ll come naturally
  • If you made a good connection, follow up and see if you can continue to network. Networking is all about the relationship. If it’s not now, you can do something together in the future

Those are some of my experiences networking in esports. The best connections I have come across were people I’ve worked with and maintained touch with over the years. I hope this helped some of you, let me know if you have any questions

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