Step One: Introspection
First things first, as you consider getting into raiding you have to ask yourself a couple of questions. I suggest that you spend some time thinking about each of them, because they are vastly important to understanding who you are as a potential raider:
Why do I want to get into raiding? - This will give you an idea of your personal priority. Is it gear or content or fellowship or a mixture of the three? Your answer will be important as most guilds will ask you about this in your application. More on that later.
Am I willing to play just one character, neglecting others? - Personally this question was a hard one for someone like me, who enjoys playing 8 characters equally. Realize that you are going to commit your time and energies to one character, and that means that the little alt army you were amassing will have to go hungry.
Do I have the time to raid? - Raiding is sometimes likened to a job by those that don't understand it. Although it isn't a job, some things about the analogy hold true. Raiding is a scheduled thing, usually 2-6 nights a week depending on the guild, and usually for 3-6 hours a night. If you are the type of person that goes to school full-time then works two jobs and has a salsa dancing class three nights a week then maybe raiding isn't for you. In addition, and this is the part no one mentioned to me, raiding involves a lot more time than the scheduled runs. As a raider you will get uber epics, but you will be responsible to enchant and gem said epics. Additionally, there is the time required to collect materials and/or gold so that you can get the consumables you will need to be at your max potential.
When am I available to raid? - Raiders have lives too, and it's essential that you look at yours and see what time is open for your raiding forays. If you can only raid on the weekends, then applying to a guild that raids 6 days a week isn't the wisest choice. Know your schedule and be aware of your free time before you commit to a raiding schedule that is in conflict with real life. This is a step that will allow you to show respect for the guild you apply to, since you know when you will be able to commit to showing up and when you cannot.
Also, it's good to look at your overall monthly schedule. If you travel for work, for instance, and can't be available to the guild, you need to let them know. Most guilds will ask for your attendance for a certain percentage of raids, usually between 50 and 80 percent.
What kind of guild am I looking for? Once you answer the questions about commitment, it's time to take a look at what group you are looking to raid with. If you are already in a guild with a raiding component and they are willing to show you the ropes, wonderful. Perhaps you are in a guild that has enough people interested in raiding that you can start out running with people you already know. This is an excellent way to get to know how an instance run works with more than 5 players in the group, and you also get a sense of how you fit within that group.
If you are not in a guild currently or are in a casual guild then don't despair. Look at what you want from a raiding guild. Do you want a group of no-nonsense hardcore types to run with? Or perhaps you prefer a more family-oriented atmosphere? Raiding guilds come in all sorts of varieties, but first you have to look within yourself and note which kind of group you work best with. Think about the guilds you have joined in the past, or if you haven't been in a guild, look back on the instance groups that worked best for you.
Am I ready to raid? Although raiding guilds, particularly smaller ones, realize there is a certain amount of gearing up that is required for any successful run at a raid boss, each group will expect you to have a basic level of attunements and gear before they consider accepting you into the group. If you have just reached level 70 and have never run Steam Vaults or Shattered Halls, perhaps your first goal should be to gather some heroic keys before you apply to a raiding guild. Having those keys will be a sign of your commitment to your character and that you have played your character enough in tough situations that you have the skill to raid. Let's look a little more at the preparation required to get into raiding.
This is where your introspection ends, and your preparation begins. Check back with us next time when we discuss the basics of what you need to do to prepare for raiding.