In a special double-feature, the Working Lunch became the Working Breakfast this week ahead of the MCV Pacific Women in Games Lunch presented by Xbox.

Fittingly, this workshop focused on purposeful networking. Top takeaways:

  • Networking can feel very transactional – remember that you have unique value regardless of your experience level or background
  • Every single person in a networking environment has one powerful tool in the back pocket – curiosity
  • If you’re feeling out of your depth ask questions – it’s 100% okay not to know everything, and people love talking about themselves! The more you learn, the more at ease you’ll feel
  • Everyone feels awkward at some point in a networking setting! Even the most seasoned veterans. Take comfort knowing you’re not the only one who would rather be at home watching Netflix
  • It will take time to develop your own networking style – you may not be the life of the party (cool if you are!) but being a connector, a listener or a supporter is equally as valid
  • If all else fails, find a buddy – nobody will judge you for gravitating to your safety net, and we all get overwhelmed!
  • You do not have to drink if you don’t want to
  • Once more, you do not have to drink if you don’t want to! Games is maturing as an industry. The pressure to drink to network is old fashioned! Don’t let anyone pressure you into anything you’re not 100% into

Thanks to IGEA, all Working Lunch mentees were provided a complimentary ticket to the WiG awards, and the accompanying workshop aimed to prepare them to get the most out of the experience.

Guest speaker Angela Hession, Principal Project Manager at Xbox, spoke with the group to begin the workshop.

Angela is a 19 year Microsoft Xbox veteran known for her work establishing new global products and businesses. In her current role, Angela’s focus is to create a safer and more inclusive gaming environment for everyone who wants to play on Xbox. During her time with Xbox, she has launched over 100 games on Xbox 360 and Kinect, and was the launch architect and original co-creator of of @Xbox which lead the capabilities to enable over 10,000 independent gamers the tools and technology to develop and self-publish on Xbox.

Angela spoke about her passion for creating a more inclusive environment for anyone who wants to play. Expressing her desire to pay forward the guidance and support she was given, Angela shared her experiences as a mentor and in orchestrating diverse internship programs as part of a roundtable discussion about purposeful networking.

Professional networks can open up job opportunities, facilitate knowledge share, provide support and “career insurance”, but the act of networking itself is often the largest barrier for entry level people and those underrepresented in their space. As women entering games, networking can be a minefield. The combination of power structures, alcohol-driven events, cliques and “unspoken rules” is undoubtedly intimidating, especially if you feel your lack of professional experience means you have little to offer in the networking transaction.

In this workshop, we explored how to confidently build a network to meet your career goals, and how to do it your way.

After the opening discussion, the whole group engaged in an intensive introductions activity. Simultaneously, speed-dating style, mentees were challenged to consecutively introduce themselves to each mentor. What resulted was a full scale simulation of a loud, busy and intimidating networking scenario where mentees were free to fail, learn and gather feedback on how to align their first impressions with their career goals.