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.

4 thoughts on “What I Learned About Networking From WoW”

  1. I love this post – very well said. I have been thinking about online communication lately. You and a few others that I know (including myself) are very “visible” online. I suspect this may become more and more of an issue for people who have much of their lives online.

    I may breeze through checking email and notice that you and others I know are online. If I physically walk past you I may see visual cues that tell me an interruption is welcome or the timing is poor and I should keep walking.

    Those visual cues are not available online and by the same token if a friend is online and sees that I am also online – they may perceive it as being ignored if I do not contact them.

    In our culture people usually have a comfortable amount of living space that serves as a buffer between them and the rest of the world. That buffer exists less and less online and I wonder how we will all deal with it.

    Rambling thoughts that may be a partial product of being at a conference with something like seven thousand other folks!

  2. I don’t feel ignored when I notice we’re both online and you don’t contact me. To me being connected is a lot like having a cell phone. Everyone knows that if they need me I’m a phone call away, but that doesn’t mean they have to call me every day just to say hello.

    The “visual cues” you mentioned sound exactly like a Twitter feed to me. If I was active on Twitter you would know exactly what I was doing and whether it was OK to contact me right now or not. I could also set my status as Away or Busy in iChat.

    I hope you enjoyed TCEA. You’ll have to tell me what I missed next week.

  3. This was interesting. I never “dugg” and article before and I think I need to work at creating a better lead. I found it kind of difficult to figure out where an article needs to go.

    I don’t think I will ever be active on twitter. I have an account but the plain truth is that I don’t want to be quite that networked LOL. I just never thought before about how interconnected we have all become in the virtual world and how that relates to relationships in the real world. We make friends through blogging and may never meet those friends face to face. I spend hours reading without ever having a book in my hand. I know that the old saying about the more things change, the more they stay the same but I think we really are changing as a culture and while it is exciting to see information alive and available and relationships growing through mutual interests and values I wonder what we will be giving up? My high school age children whine and complain about the waste of their time to read a classic novel that I have loved for the sheer beauty of a phrase or the picture the author paints for me – words on a very real and personal level. Will my grandchildren even be introduced to some of that or will it be lost?

    I have friends that I have known for years that I can visit with and the conversation picks up right where it left off years ago with jokes and references that are understood because of a shared history – people I may see once in five years but I know they will come to my funeral. Will there be a bunch of screens around the coffin when one of my descendents pass with people who attend virtually?

    I want my technology but I sure wish I could see into the future.

  4. I read this several weeks ago, and I can’t get it out of my mind. Such practical advice for all of us. This needs to be shared…big time. I’m thinking particularly about sharing it with my mentor group and maybe with the staff…with your permission, of course. Thank you for writing it.

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