Proper networking, in general, is fairly the same for IRL streamers except when it comes to stream sniping. First, I will go over general networking etiquettes that can work for any type of streamer, then I will focus on IRL stream sniping.
Raiding Streamers (aka hosting for some platforms)
When raiding, you will have many opportunities to choose the direction in which you want to raid. However, it varies based on your own goals. Do you raid to meet new streamers or maintain existing relationships? It’s up to you to decide which side you want to lean more towards and how you are in the mood to raid – whether it’s a new streamer you may not have a clue about, one you’ve seen before, or a streamer friend. It depends on how vast and wide of a net you want to spread on the platform you are most focused on. I would suggest a balance, like 50/50 for new streamers and friends, but some prefer 80/20, mostly raiding friends. It takes balance and rebalances at times.
If you primarily stream in a niche, such as outdoor IRL, it is most ideal to raid other outdoor IRL streamers who are also focused on that content (at least most of the time). The mentality I adopt in this situation is akin to thinking like a viewer watching traditional broadcast TV. Ideally, you should have similar shows before or after the primetime show. However, if it’s from left field and completely different, people will leave and not stick around. The same principle applies when raiding into another channel.
For IRL streamers, raiding is the easiest way to network because collaborating with other IRL streamers isn’t always the easiest or cheapest thing to do. So, for IRL, raiding should be the #1 key focus in picking the right streamer to raid rather than a random streamer.
Following & Popping into Chat
This varies, especially for IRL streamers. If you are meeting someone for the first time in person IRL, then usually, you would both follow each other. In cases where you are just browsing for new streamers to network with, I recommend following the ones you vibe with the most and feel you could someday collaborate with. If they are live, they would receive the notification (for smaller streams with this feature turned on), and then especially pop into the chat, say hi, engage in small talk, or just interact with the streamer about the content they are live streaming.
I have noticed a key point with bigger streamers: if they don’t know you and you simply type once with a “hi” or such, some get annoyed, especially if you are a Twitch partner, because of its indirect self-promotion. Not all big streamers, of course, but some.
Collaborations usually happen after you have networked with another streamer. I don’t recommend approaching a random streamer asking to do a collab without some groundwork in networking. Raiding them once a week (or once every other week) will let them know you like them and their content. If you like their community, chat in the chat during live streams. This is usually more ideal for small to smaller streamers (or smaller to bigger) than a bigger streamer to a bigger streamer thing, but I sometimes see bigger streamers engaging in chat, although it is rare.
After a few months of building that groundwork, and you and the streamers you connected with have seen each other’s content, assuming both parties followed each other at least on that live platform, then it should be safe to approach about the idea of collaborating. But if you approach, come with a well-thought-out concept. I don’t recommend having a quarter-baked idea; half-baked is okay, but not a quarter-baked idea.
This is a controversial topic, especially when using it as a way to network. It would raise some eyebrows for sure, but I have seen successful stream snipes turn into full-fledged streamer-to-streamer relationships, or even more at times, into actual IRL friendships. However, it is still a very risky move. Here are ways to make the experience of doing an IRL stream snipe better, and then we’ll go over how you should react when getting stream sniped if it’s an unwanted sniper.
- Plan ahead if possible. Bring them a small or medium-sized gift – nothing too crazy. Simple is better; for example, handing the streamer cash usually makes them and their chat happy, and it’s not an issue to carry around because it is cash. If you bring them something, try to keep it small and light because IRL streaming weight is always an issue, especially when the streamer is planning a long stream.
- Never stream snipe in private areas, especially when the streamer is eating.
- Streaming while sniping is a very gray area. I would recommend, if possible, not streaming it. When you have chat informing you of a nearby streamer, it makes this an unplanned and just a stumble upon stream snipe while you are live. This I feel is fine, but going live just for the snipe or during a snipe is a big no-no in my opinion. It makes it look like you are leeching, and you want to avoid that when possible.
- Avoid sniping streamers you don’t know or don’t watch at all, especially if you’re live. One time I was around a streamer in NYC, did not really watch him, but he was nearby, and chat strongly encouraged me to stream snipe. I was hesitant because I lacked context for his content and community. I did not want to appear as a leech, but I did it anyway and actually now watch his content more because of the stream snipe, oddly enough. This happened to me again in London too. I’m not sure if it’s because I lacked interest in their content before, but once met in person, it sparked more connection to the streamer and enough to give more effort to watching them. But that’s me; I am not just a streamer; I am more of a viewer and moderator in the IRL community on Twitch.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. Once you hand over the gift, ask for a selfie if you like. If you are vibing with them just right and you feel they’re vibing with you, maybe prepare some questions you always wanted to ask in person than in chat. Nothing too personal or weird, or if you want, just get the selfie, hand over whichever gift (if any), and wish them luck and a safe stream, then leave. If a streamer invites you to tag along, which is not usual these days with the current generations of IRL streamers, then tag along if you have the time and feel comfortable being on stream longer than planned. Just don’t plan to stick around.
As the streamer receiving a snipe, the first thing is to try to get a username for you and chat to put a face to a chat username. Not all snipers are streamers, so you may not know who they are at all; most could be just your viewers.
- Don’t always expect a gift, even though it’s good etiquette to receive one. I would say 50% of snipes could just be viewers or streamers already in the general area by luck and could not plan in advance.
- Offer a selfie because most stream snipers are actual viewers who enjoy your content. Not everyone who will be active chatters could be just a lurker. Also, the reason why I say to offer one is that many viewers could be shy introverts in my observations.
- If you like the stream sniper and are vibing with them a lot, and it could be content-worthy, invite them to tag along. Many will accept, some won’t because they’re too shy to be on stream for too long. It could be content or just an opportunity to ask questions face-to-face to a viewer that watches you. A great chance to do market research in person if you like to know or ask those questions on stream.
Now, for how to handle an unwanted stream sniper, well, first, find out if they’re already headed towards you. Sometimes chatters will warn of toxic people, usually toxic streamers, who could be streaming the snipe. If so, the easiest way without bringing it to attention is to go into BRB (if you have a server, if no server, turn off the stream). Either pretend you are having connection issues or tell chat you need to go to the restroom. Keep walking (or run in some instances) while in BRB to throw them off trail; then, in 5-10 minutes, they should be far enough where they can’t catch up and may give up. But the #1 thing to keep in mind is not to mention it or respond or react to it on stream or in chat. Toxic streamers crave this because they are real-life trolls. Like any internet troll, the more attention, positive or negative, they get, the more fuel they get to keep going.
In other instances, if the toxic sniper is already in front of you, it’s a little more tricky. Two ways to handle it: go into BRB without warning chat or mods about it (turn off the camera) and simply be upfront with a calm tone. Tell the toxic sniper upfront, honestly, that you don’t feel comfortable being around, or lie to them. But if you lie, you must keep the lie noted and never reveal it, or else it could go back to the toxic sniper and fuel irrational behavior. Lying to a toxic sniper with a simple ‘you have plans off-stream and can’t stay’ is a nice and simple way. It could be factual or not, but do not worry, inform them, say a nice goodbye, and walk away.”
It’s a bit obvious that TwitchCon would be the #1 event of the year for networking with many streamers. If you can afford to attend both the US and Europe TwitchCons, then definitely do both. Attending other major conventions where some streamers would also be present is another way to network, not just with other streamers but with other content creators too.