Note: This is part of a series of articles called Effective Networking in the Games Industry. I’m writing these articles in no particular order, so I’m sorry if this seems scattered. I promise I will collect it all and put it on my permanent webspace for future reference.
Today I’m going to share with you a story that had a massive impact on my life. Just before going off to college, I read a book called Hardball, by Chris Matthews (it is related to the TV show in name only, as far as I can tell). This book, while explicitly about politics, is implicitly about people, and how to deal with them. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to convince people that they want the same thing that you do. But the real gem I wanted to share with you a is story I picked up from this book.
Back in the 1930s, there was a hotel in Washington, D.C. where all the congressional assistants lived. This was a big building full of men in their 20s, so it basically served as a sort of dormitory. Lyndon Baines Johnson had just arrived to take up residence there. His first night, he
took four showers. Four times he walked towel-draped to the communal bathroom down along the hall. Four times he turned on the water and lathered up. The next morning he got up early to brush his teeth five times, with five-minute intervals in between.
The young man from Texas had a mission. There were seventy-five other congressional secretaries living in the building. He wanted to meet as many of them as fast as possible.
The strategy worked. Within three months of arriving in Washington, the newcomer got himself elected Speaker of the “Little Congress,” the organization of all House staff assistants.
In this, his Washington debut, Johnson was displaying his basic political method. He was proving that getting ahead is just a matter of getting to know people. In fact, it is the exact same thing. [From Hardball, by Chris Matthews; emphasis mine]
Anyone who knows me personally can take a guess at how profoundly this one story has shaped my life. In college, I used to take three hours to eat my lunch or dinner in the cafeteria. This is because the cafeteria was open for a three-hour window, and in that time I could have dinner with five different groups of people. I made a lot of diverse friends that way.
In fact, this one story is the crux of my whole series on networking: know everyone, try to understand everyone, and you will get ahead.