Exactly what the title says! Let's discuss a few things that you can do to help yourself and your guild out before that first raid. You may be 85, sick of regular or heroic dungeons, and wondering "what could I do to take a break, but still help out my guild?" Several things. If you want to keep doing dungeons, then 1 and 2 should help you out. But, this guide will be a general guide for all roles and the fishing and cooking professions.
HEALING related items will have two asterisks ** next to their name.
1) Get your shoulder enchants.
Your first reputation should be Therazane. The easiest way to do this is do all the Deepholme quests, complete the EPIC finale, and then start your dailies with Therazane. When you finish Deepholme you should be at least Honored. Do yourself a favor and don't skip Deepholme -- not only is the zone very well designed and beautiful but the epic finish to the zone has made it on par or better than Wrathgate (since you actually get to participate in the finale.)
The Therazane rep vendor is D'lom @ Therazane's Throne in Deepholme.
The four shoulder enchants for HONORED reputation are:
Lesser Inscription of Charged Lodestone ** (Intellect)
Lesser Inscription of Jagged Stone (Strength)
Lesser Inscription of Shattered Crystal (Agility)
Lesser Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz (Tank)
The four shoulder enchants for EXALTED reputation are:
Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone ** (Intellect)
Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone (Strength)
Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal (Agility)
Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz (Tank)
Side Perk -- 346 REVERED rings @ level 85:
Diamant's Ring of Temperance ** (Intellect)
Felsen's Ring of Resolve (Strength / Dodge)
Gorsik's Band of Shattering (Strength / Crit)
Terrath's Signet of Balance (Agility)
2) Get your helm enchants.
You should be getting nice rewards from questing/instances. After you finish with Therazane reputation, move to your respective faction that gives a helm enchant that you need. These are available at REVERED. See the next paragraph for locations for the vendors.
Arcanum of Hyjal (Intellect) **
Arcanum of the Earthen Ring (Stamina/Dodge)
Arcanum of the Ramkahen (Agility/Haste)
Arcanum of the Wildhammer / Dragonmaw (Strength/Mastery)
The 5 reputation vendors and a link to their rewards are below:
Therazane - D'lom @ Therazane's Throne in Deepholme.
Guardians of Hyjal - Provisioner Whitecloud - Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal
Wildhammer Clan (A) / Dragonmaw Clan (H) - Craw MacGraw @ Thundermar or Grot Deathblow @ Bloodgulch in the Twilight Highlands
Earthen Ring - Provisioner Arok @ Silver Tide Hollow in Shimmering Deeps, Vashj'ir
Ramkahen - Blacksmith Abasi @ Ramkahen in Uldum
3) Find the appropriate buff food for your class and farm it. Either identify your guild chef or level your cooking to 525.
Recipes for the Alliance are sold by Bario Matalli in Stormwind.
Recipes for the Horde are sold by Shazdar in Orgrimmar.
The NPCs standing next to these two vendors also give daily quests (they are VERY easy) to not only gain Chef's Tokens but also level your cooking. Picking 6 pumpkins out of a pumpkin patch with no mobs in sight is probably the easiest thing you'll do throughout the expansion. Do these daily quests! At the very least, you can buy crates of meat and mail them to your guildies. The quests only require level 1 cooking.
+60 Buff Food (The OK Stuff) (450-500 skill)
+60 Spirit - Whitecrest Gumbo
+60 Haste - Broiled Mountain Trout
+60 Critical Strike - Lightly Fried Lurker
+60 Hit - Seasoned Crab
+60 Mastery - Salted Eye
+60 Expertise - Lavascale Filet
+60 Dodge - Lurker Lunch
+60 Intellect - Pickled Guppy
+60 Agility - Tender Baked Turtle
+60 Strength - Hearty Seafood Soup
+90 Buff Food (The Best Stuff) (500-525 skill)
+90 Agility - Skewered Eel
+90 Spirit - Delicious Sagefish Tail
+90 Intellect - Severed Sagefish Head
+90 Dodge - Mushroom Sauce Mudfish
+90 Mastery - Lavascale Minestrone
+90 Hit - Grilled Dragon
+90 Expertise - Crocolisk Au Gratin
+90 Parry - Blackbelly Sushi
+90 Strength - Beer-Basted Crocolisk
+90 Haste - Basilisk Liverdog
+90 Crit - Baked Rockfish
Conjured Mana Cake Equivalents:
If you are fishing for Deepsea Sagefish, you will end up with a lot of
Food - Fish Fry
Water - Starfire Espresso , South Island Iced Tea
4) Help your guild out by farming the materials for the Broiled Dragon Feast.
If your guild does not yet have the achievement for Set the Oven to "Cataclysmic" then you may help out by farming any meat listed above. Imagine the faces of your guildies when you tell them there are Broiled Dragon Feasts in the bank for heroics or the first raid!
One Feast Takes:
Dragon Flank x 6 (kill Cataclysm dragons, loot meat)
Delicate Wing x 4 (kill Cataclysm birds, loot meat)
***Sneaky Workaround (as of 12/21/10): Buy Tropical Sunfruit and Fresh Water from Innkeeper Francis in Highbank or Lizzy "Lemons" in Dragonmaw Port. Brew 5000 iced teas. If you feel rich, brew another 5,000 to get the second achievement. There's no telling when this will get hotfixed like the Starfire Espresso so do it quickly.
5) Fish in fishing pools to help catch 10,000 fish for your guild to get the Seafood Magnifique Feast.
By fishing 10,000 fish from pools to get That's a Lot of Bait, you open up access to the +90 stat fish feast. It's going to take a lot of fishing so everyone will appreciate you for fishing! Also, these fish will be worth $$ on the AH, along with the fish used in the cooking recipes mentioned above for buff food. Pick your favorite fish and farm away. However, your guild will benefit greatly if you drop a stack or two in the bank.
Seafood Feast Takes:
Highland Guppy x 4 (found in pools, so you can get materials while working on the achievement)
Fathom Eel x 4 (found in pools, so you can get materials while working on the achievement)
Lavascale Catfish x 4 (fished in lava)
6) Farm herbs for any of the following elixirs, potions, and flasks for you or your guild.
All of the herbs listed below are priceless. With the holidays, there is plenty of time to get some farming in and stock up for January when people return to school and jobs. If you can spare the time, consider farming herbs for your guild and having a guild alchemist brew up some pots for the raiders. This will help you out when everyone goes back to a normal schedule.
Herbs used in Cataclysm brewing (links are to node locations):
Elixir of Deep Earth
Ghost Elixir ** (Spirit)
Elixir of Impossible Accuracy (Hit)
Elixir of Mighty Speed (Haste)
Elixir of the Cobra (Critical Strike)
Elixir of the Master (Mastery)
Elixir of the Naga (Expertise)
Volcanic Potion (Increased Spellpower) **
Earthen Potion (Increased Armor)
Golemblood Potion (Increased Strength)
Potion of the Tol'vir (Increased Agility)
Potion of Illusion
Potion of Treasure Finding
These potions are EXCELLENT! You are able to loot Tiny Treasure Chests occasionally which contain gold, cloth, and volatiles in any combination.
Mana / Health
Mythical Healing Potion
Mythical Mana Potion **
Mighty Rejuvenation Potion **
Potion of Concentration **
Potion of Deepholm
Flasks no longer require a special herb such as Frost Lotus to use, BUT, they require double the herbs of the BC and Wrath flasks.
Flask of Flowing Water (Spirit) **
Flask of the Draconic Mind (Intellect) **
Flask of the Winds (Agility)
Flask of Titanic Strength (Strength)
Flask of Steelskin (Stamina)
Flask of Enhancement (Alchemists only)
7) Read boss strategies!
http://www.tankspot.com has some great guides on the first few bosses. Watch movies, read strategies, and see if any friends in other guilds will let you listen to their raids. Learn the fights and be prepared for the curve (it's going to be tough). The best thing you can do for your guild and friends is bring your A-game! There are plenty of videos on Youtube for the heroic dungeons if you are having a bit of trouble.
The above link will take you straight to the raid videos on tankspot.com
There you have it! Some suggestions of things to do; a general pre-raid farming list; a quick "what do I farm and where because my raid is in two days" list. Whatever you want to call it, I hope it helps you all!