What I Learned About Networking From WoW

I’ve finally broken my addiction to World of Warcraft (again, but that’s a post for another day). Although it was mostly a giant $15/month waste of time, I do feel like I learned a few things from it.

In the few months that I played, I went from being an unknown, to an officer in my guild and a friend to all. I helped people every day with quests. And if I ever needed help, I could always find someone to stop what they were doing and lend a hand.

The list below is my attempt to take my experiences in World of Warcraft and turn them into lessons about networking with other people:

Be Helpful – Find out what you can do to make someone’s life easier and do it. 90% of people will respond with a simple “ty”. Some won’t even bother with a response. But a few people will remember you and look for your help again. These are the people that will help you someday in return.

Be Giving – Everyone likes to receive gifts. If you’re a programmer, contribute to an open source project. If you’re an artist, give away some of your work for free. If you have a web hosting account, host someone’s domain for free. Again, if you give things away, someone will return the favor one day.

Be Humble – This is a fine line to walk. You want everyone in the world to know what you’re capable of doing, but no one likes a braggart. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver than to do the opposite.

Be Grateful – Let someone else be the hero. Ask for help when you need it, and then praise those who help you. If someone does a nice thing for you, remember them and pay them back when you can. Follow up with a thank you note, an e-mail, or a mention on your blog.

Be Consistent – It’s important that you’re almost always available if you want to build relationships with people. It’s hard to become friends with someone who’s always asleep when you’re online. Let others know when you’re available and how to get in touch with you.

Be Selective – Ignore the idiots in the world. There are always going to be people who’s goal in life is to make others feel bad. Some people think the only way to lift themselves up is by putting other people down. Ignore these people and they will die alone.

I’m going to continue trying to translate these ideas in real world practices and see how far it takes me. If you have any ideas about networking with people online, I’d love to hear them.

Too Shy For Web 2.0?

This may be surprising for those of you that know me, but I can sometimes be a shy person.

For some reason I’ve never been very good at interacting with people online. I have profiles on MySpace, FaceBook, and LinkedIn, but I’ve never used those to meet new people. The only people I’m connected to are people that I already knew, or met some other way.

I read lots of blogs and other web sites, but I wouldn’t think of contacting the author of any of those sites directly. I rarely even leave comments on other blogs. I follow several online forums and mailing lists without ever posting.

The strange thing is, I’m not shy in real life. I have no problem walking into a room full of strangers, introducing myself, and interacting as a member of the group. My brain just doesn’t work the same way when it comes to online interactions.

I’m starting to think that this is holding me back. How can I expect to be successful online if I can’t carry on a conversation with other people? I have the skills to accomplish whatever I want, but no one ever got famous in isolation.

Aaron Swartz wrote an interesting article a while back called How to Get a Job Like Mine. In it, he says you should “gab”. I totally agree with him.

I think I’ll make this my next goal for 2008 – improve my online networking skills.

Now, who wants to be my friend?

Welcome To My Temple

If you’re reading this, then things are working on my new host. This site has been moved from DreamHost to Media Temple.

This move has been coming for a long time. As I said before, the quality of service from DreamHost has been slipping for a while now. I received a 3-month Media Temple gift card some time last year and I finally put it to good use.

Now all I have to do is move the rest of my sites over to Media Temple and everything will get back to normal… whatever that means.