LinkedIn and facebook are valuable connecting tools, but absolutely nothing replaces face-to-face communication. Nothing. 


Colleen NYTF GIG Pic 2010 I'm a networky person. I love putting people together and I've been accused of hosting the November Chicago events (ChiTAG, TAGIE Conference and TAGI Awards) to do just that. The TAGIE Conference alone has almost 50 speakers because they are there as much for the networking with one another as for discovering new products from the attendees. It is so important to them that we have a waiting list, don’t pay our speakers and many pay to be there.


Colleen NYTF GIG Pics 2010 Cat, Tom, Richard The NY, Hong Kong, London, Nurnberg, Essen and other Fairs are great opps to network. During the past NY Toy Fair, I hosted a get-together that had about 400 people stop in throughout the night. Why do so many people come? Because they want to be with one another. And now I am excited to be a part of a committee planning another networking event – the TIA ToyCon, which is great networking opportunity that takes place in May in Arizona.
Colleen NYTF GIG Pics 2010 Joyce, Peggy, Roger You don’t have to travel to network. You can network locally. In Chicago, we have a networking group that meets once a month March through October (November – February are show months with people travelling). Between 10 and 20 people turn out from all walks of the industry (inventors, manufacturers, designers, etc.). It is casual with no agenda and everyone pays for whatever they eat or drink. We've had out-of-towner guests on occasion like Lisa Guili from Educational Insights in CA (she's coming back in August and bringing her colleague Riley Wilkinson) and this month (6/22) we have Jay Esser from JAYZ Int'l, a New Zealand importer and distributor.
Colleen NYTF GIG Pics 2010 Steve, Tim It would be great to have networking groups in cities or regions across the country as well as overseas. If anyone is part of one, please post your group here so others know about it.
If you are going to be in Chicago, we welcome you to our group (dates are posted on LinkedIn or contact me). Be prepared to laugh as well as share information… face-to-face.



Colleen NYTF GIG Pics 2010 Erik, Mike, AaronYou may recognize some of the industry people in the pictures at some of the events I mentioned.


Special thanks to Colleen McCarthy-Evans for pics!

6 thoughts

  1. Okay Mary! You twisted my arm… today I launched the Cincinnati Game and Toy Industry Professionals group on LinkedIn.
    I’ve considered this for a while now. The more time I spend on my own startup game company, (I’m entering my 4th year in the biz) the more I am discovering how many other talented folks are out there in the Greater Cincinnati community creating innovative, playful toys and games for the world. Many of them have reached out to me and vice versa. Knowing they are out there gives me a strong sense of belonging and purpose beyond my own business efforts.
    Anytime the opportunity to meet “IRL” (in real life) presents itself, I never regret it, and we always part saying, “gee, we should do this on a regular basis.” That is the impetus and my eventual goal for the group: to provide a forum to connect and then to organize periodic meetups to strengthen our community and build Cincinnati’s reputation in the industry.
    Cincinnati has a history of game and toy innovation that spans generations. We have a lot to be proud of here!
    This new group will connect people in the Greater Cincinnati area who work in the game and toy industry to share news, ideas and will include periodic meetups to build relationships and promote Cincinnati’s heritage as a game and toy innovation hotbed.

  2. Well put, Mary! I actually suffer withdrawals from all the fun, stimulating, informational and often humorous interactions with my toy and game industry peeps after Toy Fair, Chitag, etc. A girl can feel a little isolated here on the central coast of California! Thank goodness for FB, which is a worthy substitute in between shows, conferences and other gatherings.
    Thank you for bringing us all together, and encouraging more of it!

  3. The Game Artisans of Canada was founded in Calgary in August of 2008 as an organization of board and card game inventors. It has since grown to include chapters in Ontario and British Columbia. While we benefit greatly from sharing our knowledge and experiences with each other through our online forum and wiki, local face-to-face playtest sessions in each of our member cities (and larger, pan-chapter get-togethers) remain a central part of what we do. We’re always happy to network and visiting game designers, publishers, and enthusiasts are welcome to get in touch.

  4. Tanya, thank you for the overly generous comments, wish you lived closer to Chicago as well and I would love to help you set up a networking group in Toronto. Just say when and I’ll get the word out – I have an extensive db. I’m not smart enough to be a part of your mechanical puzzler group, maybe I can bake cookies or make chocolate truffles for it if I am able to visit. 🙂

  5. Mary
    You are the ultimate in networking. And the best part is that you are genuine and do it for the love of the industry! You are an inspiration. You make me wish I lived closer to Chicago!
    I do the same thing in Toronto for fellow mechanical puzzlers (like Rubik’s Cube). We meet four times a year and bring and play puzzles together. It was inspired by a conference called IPP (International Puzzle Party) where we meet annually all over the world.
    I would LOVE to start something like this for people in the toy industry here. Maybe you could help me connect with fellow Canadians to begin our own toy gatherings in Toronto? I would love to do it! Then maybe you could come back to Canada and be a guest of honor (and come visit me too).

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