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The Right Way to Connect

Jane McGonigal - Ready to Collaborate . . . The Networlding Way!
 Recently I was reviewing Fast Company’s top 100 Creative People. I just loved reading articles on the amazing creatives I saw. Here  is one that I just had to showcase. She very clearly articulates how she wants people to connect with her. I specifically love her “Don’t Pick My Brain” request. Read on for further enlightenment:

I  get a lot of emails and phone calls from people I don’t know yet, to discuss things they’re working on, or get my advice on a project, or to propose a potential collaboration. About 5 a day… which is awesome. But that adds up to over 150 interesting new people every month!

Due to the Law of There Are Only 24 Hours in a Day, unfortunately I don’t have time to schedule phone calls or coffee with most of them. So I thought I’d try to streamline conversations so I can have more of them. Here are the best ideas I’ve come up with so far.

How to jump start our conversation:

If you just want to say hi and introduce yourself, awesome. I love meeting potential future allies and like-minded spirits. Facebook is really good for this. And tell me where you live so I can invite you to a talk or live game event!

If you want something from me, send lots of information in your first email. The more I know about you or your project, the more likely I won’t be able to stop thinking about you or your project and simply HAVE to write back.

Let’s plan to start our conversation on email, not on the phone or over coffee. We can always schedule calls or coffee after a few emails if things are going well! If you really, really want a face-to-face conversation, try to connect at a conference or a game or a festival. I attend a LOT of them.

If you have actually played a game that I’ve made, PLEASE mention that. I give super-top-priority to people who have actually taken the time to play one of my games. If you haven’t played one of my games, you can always ask me in your email for a game that’s currently live that you can play. If you come to one of my live game events, that’s the best way to connect.

There will be no “brain picking.” That’s really one-sided and I hate that. I have a ton of articles and slides and video lectures online that afford all the online brain-picking you could ever want. Beyond that, I’d much rather have a conversation and hopefully learn something from you. So, it’s always a good idea to start an email by telling me something interesting I probably don’t know about yet. I love to talk to people who share instead of brain picking!

If you want me to come somewhere, that’s awesome — I love to travel. But please let me know in the first email if you have budget for travel support, honorarium, or speakers’ fees. It helps me prioritize so I can pay the rent while still meeting lots of interesting people.

If you want me to work on a project with you, that’s great! Can you tell me upfront what specifically you have in mind for my participation, what the project’s for, what the timeline is, if you have a budget, the intended audience? Really as much information as possible.

If you want to interview me, send as much information about the story you’re working on as possible, ideally with the kinds of questions you want to ask, and whether it’s for background or on the record.

If you want me to give feedback on something you’re working on, send me a link or an article or a video or slides or whatever else will help me get up to speed on it as quickly as possible. This is much better than trying to schedule a call or a meeting. Although this is the kind of thing I really often don’t have enough time for, since I am usually developing several projects myself at any given time. If you are going absolutely crazy for my advice, ask for a half-day or day of my consulting time. I can make time for formal advice more often than I can for informal advice.

Okay, now that you’ve read all that, you can email me at my first name @ the domain of this website.


your future ally/co-conspirator/collaborator, Jane

Now, you may wonder what my take on this request is regarding how I will approach Jane. The way I see it, you only get one chance to create a winning first impression. I really want to connect with Jane but I think in order to really connect with her what matter is to experience her games first. Her games matter to her. To connect what matters to Jane is the first step in saying “I took the time to connect to what matters to you.” Now, I do want to show Jane something that I think would truly be mutually beneficial–specifically, my innovation center I want to open in the Borders store on Michigan Avenue (they are going out of business January 2010). 

My vision is to have approximately 20 of the top innovative companies, complimentors to one another, providing real-time innovation advice, support, games and contests continuously for all those with creative passions and minds. I believe just like Jane, in play there exists connections and opportunities. That’s Networlding! Looking forward to connecting Jane!

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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