LinkedIn does a few things waaaay better than other social media platforms. Namely:
- Job offers for video game developers
- Networking within your field of professional interest
- Interesting, industry-oriented articles and discussions
- Career growth
- Building your personal brand as a game developer
Of course, all of them are important, and you can find more pointers on them all around this blog. Today, however, we'll be discussing that last point.
So get comfy and follow along as we do a quick dive into the world of LinkedIn network, professional profiles, and how you, dear aspiring member of the happy gamedev family, fit into it all.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding, in short, is the sum of how your network perceives you, especially in terms of your career and work history. Your current work colleagues, classmates, possible future employers, headhunters, and even the people you bump into at conferences all have some or other idea of who you are. And, by extension, what it would be like to work and connect with you.
They assess this based on, well… Pretty much everything they can see you do, both online and in the real world. Your interactions with them, and with everyone around you, the way you present yourself, and what you share with others.
To put this in a neat bullet list:
The things that contribute to your personal brand on LinkedIn:
- The articles you share online
- What you comment underneath other people's posts
- Who you interact with and how you do it
- Your DMs with them
- The quality of your profile
- How often you're active
There are a few other things that make your profile score better on the platform, but we'll get into that later.
An important takeaway from this is that you ALREADY HAVE A PERSONAL BRAND, whether you construct it consciously or not. Do others think you're a competent and ambitious game developer with something to say? Or someone who fails their assignments and spends their time online sharing deep-fried memes?
That's up to you.
Personal branding for game developers - Why should I care?
That's a question you'll have to answer for yourself, sooner or later. We can only let you know why we (and the gaming industry) do.
It all comes down to good old-fashioned marketing. And to make it simpler, let's think about this as if you were an indie video game. You could be the best, most fun, and enjoyable title out there, with deck-building, Metroidvania roguelike, open-world survival, crafting, (insert your favorite Steam tag here) elements out there.
Even if you were created with love by a passionate team of talented people, if the marketing flopped, no one's going to buy you. No one simply knows you're such a great experience, and therefore your road to fame and success will not start.
Of course, you're a person and not the next Minecraft. Your goal is not to be bought but rather to establish a good groundwork for meaningful connections with people in the gaming industry and future employment. But, the same rules apply.
You have to somehow start existing within people's minds and incite warm and positive connections there.
And that will take some amount of effort. How much? That, again, is up to you. But trust us, it's worthwhile.
From zero to a (personal branding) hero - where to start?
All right, here comes the nitty-gritty. How to build your gamedev personal brand on LinkedIn?
Let's start at the beginning - your profile. Please consider signing up after finishing reading if you don't have a Linkedin account. If you have one, get in there and double-check if you can improve something.
Building Your LinkedIn profile
Your profile is the first point of contact many people will have with you. Plenty of recruiters (like ourselves) lurk on the site and will assess whether you are the right fit for the role they're hiring for. Even if you're only applying for a job somewhere, the HR people often scan it too.
Having all that in mind, striking a great first impression on LinkedIn really is important. Here you can find the more detailed guide.
You can start with your profile picture - the sweet spot you're aiming for is something between your driving license photo and a picture from vacation. You don't want to come off as a stiff robot, but bear in mind this is a professional space, so no beach profile photos either.
Maybe you have a cool shot showing your face while helping someone out at a game jam? Maybe during a programming workshop or an art class? Something of good quality that will show you in nice lighting and focus will make a good profile picture.
Next up is the wordy part. This is similar to writing a really good CV - you should focus on your accomplishments, what you're proud of, your professional and academic background, what drives you, and what you hope to achieve in the coming years.
Make sure to highlight your brightest moments and really let them testify to what's important to you.
Filling out the professional history part shouldn't be a challenge, but feel free to skip the irrelevant parts, like a summer part-time summer job at an ice cream stand. Fun as it may have been, it probably won't wow anyone (unless it was the first ice-cream stand on the International Space Station, in which case let us know ASAP because we want to visit). Relevant content is always best practice.
The rest will fill up over time, as we're about to explain, so don't worry.
However, if you'd like to really nail your LinkedIn profile, we have some recommended further reading for you.
Your activity on LinkedIn
The other thing that will be an integral part of our presence on the portal, and by extension, a vital element of your social networking there, is your activity. Again, you might think this wouldn't affect how you're perceived, but if you've spent some time on any other social network site, you'll know it's all visible.
Your feeds are full of posts and articles popping up there because the people you follow interacted with the post. That's one of the basic foundations of how news feeds work these days, and it should not be overlooked.
Now think about this - when you follow someone you admire (professionally, of course), what do they most often share? It's probably articles about their project's successes or discussions relating to some tech news and developments in exciting projects. You know it’s valuable content.
Of course, a strong meme game can also be a part of your personal brand, and there's nothing wrong with it. And maybe you’ll become the next LinkedIn influencer.
It is worthwhile to implement a similar style in what you post online and how you behave. You'll soon find yourself occupying some high-profile minds in the industry, living there rent-free and having an opinion of someone who really knows their stuff.
And there is a hidden layer to all this. One that's been foreshadowed before.
You see, the way you're active on LinkedIn doesn't happen in a vacuum, and the profiles showing up aren't random. There is a power at play here that escapes any man's comprehension.
Your profile is actually judged and scored by an algorithm. Thunder strikes ominously in the distance.
Is the LinkedIn algorithm important too?
Yes. But before you get all riled up, it's all in service of good.
LinkedIn algo does its best to filter the profiles that offer more value to others and, in doing so, kind of cleans the site. It rewards the more active, responsive, and engaged people with better search positioning and more visibility for search engines.
So how does it do that?
There's obviously well-guarded algorithm magic involved, but the basic idea is, that it measures each user's activity (posting, interacting, commenting, engaging, sharing etc) by how it resonates with their network.
It considers the quality and worthiness of shared articles, how generic or sincere the comments look, how often you connect on LinkedIn with others, and how well you do so.
Don't believe us? Check for yourself - https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
You'll also find a reasonable trove of knowledge on how you can improve your score, but don't go obsessing about it just yet.
Remember to start small and not overwhelm yourself. Instead, find some pages and companies you'd like to stay updated with. You'll soon find that by just spending some time on LinkedIn, looking up interesting articles, and engaging in discussions, you will slowly build up your strong brand, learn a lot, and gain some knowledge.
Alright, my LinkedIn profile is set up. What should I do next to build a personal brand?
Just to reiterate - don't try to speedrun becoming the ruler of LinkedIn. You can't just do all of this in one eight-hour marathon and expect it to be for the rest of your life. But that's a good thing!
Try and spend some time on LinkedIn a few times a week. Go in there, look around and interact with some interesting LinkedIn posts. Message a few people if you really dig their work and have some questions (trust us, they will be happy to share their knowledge).
Find an interesting article somewhere else? Go ahead and share it, along with your thoughts and questions! Your network, if constructed thoughtfully, will be delighted to join in the discussion!
Take it slow. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will your personal brand. But was it worth it? The Romans might not be around to tell you, but if you make your online presence a healthy habit, you definitely won't regret it!
Do I NEED to make personal branding my top priority?
That depends. How known and recognizable would you like to be?
You don't need to be a rockstar to get more lucrative and exciting job offers and expand your network easily.
All it takes is some consistency, and you'll quickly be delighted with the people you can connect with.
Of course, if you want, you can become the next Hideo Kojima. He's probably one of the most recognizable game developers out there, mostly thanks to his unique style and the memorable titles he poured himself in.
Partly also because he knows how to handle being in the spotlight and how to craft his personal brand by collaborating with others in and outside of the industry.
But truth be told, there's a threshold after which you spend more time developing the personal brand than doing actual work on interesting projects. You can easily spend more time posting online and going to conferences and meet-and-greets.
If that's not really your jam, we get it. But don't go off on the other end of the scale and neglect your personal branding entirely. We're sure plenty of talented people out there deserve recognition. Still, no one knows them due to effectively hiding their work and themselves and hoping they'll get noticed by merit alone. And we can only "be sure" of that without giving out examples, because well… We don't know them.
You define your own level of commitment and how deep you wanna go.
As in all things, we advise aiming for the sweet spot, but you do you. We'll support you either way <3
A few final things to remember about building your personal brand on LinkedIn
If all this seems like a bit much, keep in mind - there's actual, tangible value to be gained on professional networking and personal branding on LinkedIn. We wouldn't be writing this article otherwise.
Besides the doors that will open up to you, just skimming the site can yield benefits in the form of interesting insights, new perspectives, and knowledge.
- Don't be afraid to engage and interact on LinkedIn
- Keep your public profile tidy and neat, it's your business card
- Stay active, up to the level you feel comfortable at
- Your social network is your friend
- Stay hydrated
And as always - we're here if you want to talk and take your gamedev career to that next level yo!