In the Spring of 2008, I moved to Bulgaria. My wife began helping with her sister’s business – a consulting firm that specialized in servicing foreign real estate developers interested in opportunities in the Republic of Bulgaria. My eldest attended pre-school during the day, while my mother-in-law watched the little one.
Bulgaria was an opportunity for me. We had very low expenses while living overseas and so I was blessed with a chance to build my businesses without having to worry about paying too many bills.
In April, I ran across an article by Chris Brogan entitled ‘Social Media for Your Career’. Chris mentioned a lot of things in the article, but I focused on his mention of LinkedIN. Based on his recommendation, I decided to take LinkedIN for a spin (http://www.linkedin.com/in/ephealy).
One thing I noticed was that you can sort potential connections by geographic location. I decided to see how many people were in my neck of the woods: Sofia, Bulgaria. Right now, there are almost 5,000 people in the Sofia metropolitan area with LinkedIN profiles. At the time, though, there were far fewer – 41 to be exact. With so few people to choose from, I decided to scroll through the list and see what popped out.
On the second page was a rather generic listing for ‘CEO of Haemimont Games’. I had no LinkedIN connections who knew this person, so I had no way to contact him via the service, so I relied on another useful service: Google. What I discovered was that Haemimont Games produced some pretty cool products. Even better, their offices were two blocks away. I called, gave them my credentials as a gaming professional, and asked if they’d like to get together. As luck would have it, they were having a company outing at the local bowling alley the next day and asked me to drop by.
As it turned out, Haemimont was looking for people to help write for their first Xbox title. I’d worked on various game products and Rone, my business partner, had sold screenplays to MGM – we had the skills they were looking for, and I told them as much.
The meeting went well, as did the next one. By the end of May, Moonstew Games was knee deep in our first computer game project (to be released this Christmas).
And that’s how social media helped me land my first Xbox gig. Thanks to Chris Brogan (blogger), I learned about a networking site for professionals (LinkedIN), which pointed me toward a potential business partner. Without those two first steps, I would never have met the good folks at Haemimont Games.
Social media won’t do it all, though. It’s great for making connections and sharing ideas, but it took a real-world connection to seal this deal. That’s just as an important a lesson – something I’ve learned time and time again. The internet is great, but it’s no substitute for face-to-face communication. Instant messages and a webcam can’t replace a living, breathing person.
Likewise, nothing replaces experience. If Rone and I didn’t have a resume to back us up, I doubt Haemimont would have given me more than an invite to go bowling again.
Be professional with a solid track record, be prepared to show that record to others, and strike when opportunities arise – you’ll do fine. Social media can help you find those opportunities, though.