World of Warcraft: A powerful business networking platform

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Before you cancel your next business breakfast event in favour of embarking on a second life as a digital elf – I would caution that this blog is mostly an opportunity for me to tell you a cool story.
Despite that, my tale does provide some insight on how blurred the boundaries between our digital and physical spaces are becoming.
So, weary traveller, stay a while and listen…


World of Warcraft as a…what?

Yes, yes. It is a rather silly title.

That doesn’t make it necessarily untrue however, at least for me.

For the uninitiated (read: people with an active social life), World of Warcraft (WoW) is an online video game in which you create and play a character that exists in a permanent virtual world, shared amongst thousands of other real people. Meeting people you’ve never met before and playing together is a fundamental part of the experience.

Long lasting communities of players naturally form in WoW which often bleeds over into real life or ‘IRL’ if you will. Marriages, children, business ventures, lifelong friendships and more have all formed through connections forged in this game.

Whilst that is all very nice, how does it relate to my work at Nielsen McAllister?


Virtual Worlds, Real Connections

Having played this game for more years than I’d like to admit, I have naturally developed some of these connections and have friends in… (deep breath):

Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, Ukraine, Finland, Austria, Greece, Romania, Estonia and beyond.

Now, what most people don’t think about is the fact that, despite knowing these people through playing a video game together, each of these contacts has a day job.

So, when I was asked to source a photographer in Norway for a client customer factory visit – I responded: “Actually, I know somebody…”


Enter Ripea, the Night Elf Hunter – who also happens to be a professional photographer and graphic designer living in Norway…

A few emails and a few weeks later, Bob from Nielsen McAllister and Ripea –somebody I knew through playing a video game with – were working together in a snacks factory south of Oslo.


Ripea in-game and Ripea with Bob Bushby on a client visit.


Now if that’s not a handy business connection, I don’t know what is!

This isn’t the only time this has happened either.

On another client factory visit trip to Slovakia, I needed somewhere to stay. Turns out I knew someone. Two people in fact, a married couple who I had been playing with for three years and who lived precisely halfway between my two visits.

So, they very generously offered to let me stay, taking significant stress (and cost) out of an intimidating first work trip abroad.


Good friends and hosts Chevah and Ultra from Slovakia


Lessons From The World (of Warcraft)

I freely admit that the title of this blog is a bit of a stretch.

I would never advise somebody to start playing with the intention of developing a network of connections for business purposes. That would be silly.

What I would say however, is that it is important to remember that the people you engage with in your online spaces are in fact real people.

And investing in those online connections can bring real benefits – just think about all of the businesses that were started through an initial LinkedIn connection request…

As technology and connectivity continues to develop apace, the boundaries between our digital and physical worlds are becoming more blurred. Physical and tangible relationships, businesses and even children are being created because of people meeting in online spaces.

My parting lesson would be to keep the above in mind when you are spending time online. Remember, and I mean really remember that the people you engage with are real people and that great things can happen ‘IRL’ if you play your cards right.



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