Happy... Monday?! I'm sure I'm not the only US-based person who's had a hard time keeping up with what day of the week it is given the recent 4th of July celebrations. So if you've been wondering where the newsletter has been, don't fret. The newsletter is certainly not dead, and neither am I! I am, however, feeling the type of tired that only exhibits itself after you've wrapped up a few big tasks. As many of you know, there have been a few major projects on my plate lately. Between pieces of these projects wrapping up and my automated systems failing me this past month, it's been difficult to get the newsletter out the past two weeks. But I'm calling this a win, since I've got a long newsletter chock-full of good information for you today, in addition to two awesome announcements!
We just finalized a fantastic list of diverse speakers for REdeploy and I'm even more excited about this conference as a result! We had a ridiculous number of CFPs (more than 10x the number of speaking slots!) and had an incredibly difficult time narrowing it down, which tells me just how timely the topics of resilient organizations and resilient people (in addition to resilient technology) are. If you're interested, I'd love for you to join us in San Francisco on Aug 16-17. Feel free to use discount code REDEVREL for 10% off your ticket.
Secondly, many of you have been following along as I've spent the last year writing what I believe is the first full-length book about Developer Relations, and I'm so pleased to announce that the writing and editing portions of this journey are DONE! There's likely one last proof of the book to come, and of course marketing and promotions, but I can breathe a sigh of relief -- it's now out of my hands and on its way to production land, led safely by my amazing editor, Louise.
These two milestones mean several things to me, most notably that I can accomplish things that I set my mind to, but that it often takes a village (or shall we say, a community), to see it through to the end. Stay tuned for a blogpost about lessons learned through this process -- just as soon as I can feel my writing fingers again 😅
No rest for the weary though -- we're coming up on the final weeks prior to REdeploy, I'm in the process of moving, and Burning Man is on the horizon! But as always, I'll be here once a week, bringing you the latest news and resources from the DevRel world. Per usual, feel free to reach out with any suggestions, questions, or comments -- I love hearing from you!
p.s. I'm looking to take a few weeks off from the newsletter in August & September but want to make sure you're still supplied with content during those weeks, which means I'm in need of volunteers! If you're interested in curating an upcoming issue of DevRel Weekly, hit reply and let me know.
With Great Power...
This tweet came to my attention after Rachel Happe quoted it and added the following:
Use your powers for good #cmgr - we need strong ethics or we can cause great harm.
With as many departments as we can fall into and as many talents as we have, it's important to make sure that we're using our skills in the right ways. As Adam Grant said,
It’s nice to have the right skills on the bus, but it’s critical to keep the wrong values off the bus. Values aren’t visible on a resume. They’re revealed in the choices we make: speak up or stay silent, take responsibility or make excuses, lift others up or cut them down
Twitter Advice Column
There have been a few questions posed on Twitter recently that I think you all can be helpful with!
First up, where do you go for your info?
What are your favorite sources for community management insights? I feel like my RSS feed needs an update.
I’m new to #DevRel as my day job (having been kinda doing it before only tangentially). What communities are there online? Slack, mailing lists, etc. Keen to learn more about the profession, chat with and learn from others, etc. I have a ton of questions, both practical (how do you keep abreast of CfPs? What criteria do you use in weighing up whether to submit to a conf?) and broader (how do you balance travel and family? How do you keep enthused about presenting the same topic w/out rewriting each time)?
Answer the Question
CFP tip: if your talk proposal poses a question, then make sure you answer it in the submission. After all, the answer is the core of your talk.
Use Your Strengths
💡 TIP: If you’re looking to increase community membership, leverage your current members, influencers, and partners. Most people will act on information from peers they trust than knowledge alone.
What About a Community Department?
Perhaps marketing, support, social, events, and communications should all be under a community department. All the ways you interact with your people. All community.
This tweet led to a fascinating series of conversations, one of which ended with David saying the following:
Community is still perceived as a lower level position than marketing. That will change when marketing becomes a part of community.
I love the direction that he's heading in and can't wait to see what happens next. I think it's going to take some time before everything community-related is reorganized under a community team, but it would sure help a lot of the confusing conversations that occur around whether DevRel is Product, Marketing, Engineering, Sales, or Biz Dev.
PJ Hagerty, Jason Hand, and I continued this conversation in our recent "After Pulse" episode of Community Pulse -- be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting app and take a listen!
What do you think? Do all of these departments belong under a Community department? Or is there one place where Community and DevRel function best? Hit reply and let me know your opinion!
Why Your Community Manager Needs A Seat At The Crisis Planning Table
Even if we aren’t in our own department with a dedicated Chief Community Officer, we still need a seat at the table. As CEO of Quiip, Alison Michalk says,
When it comes to C-suite decision making, the community manager is increasingly noticeable by their absence... Put bluntly, community management demands a level of seniority it’s not yet been granted… No one in the organisation has a better finger on the pulse of your audience and how they need to be engaged with than your community management team. They must be empowered as to how best respond — and listened to when it comes to how customers needs can be met.
When we aren’t included in ongoing conversations about decision-making and planning, we aren’t able to advocate for our community members effectively, which not only impacts our community but has negative implications for the company as well.
Alison closes with this:
Next time your brand is facing an issue or crisis, call in your community manager and ask. I can guarantee they’ll have an informed opinion on how your brand can best manage your communication on social media.
I would take this one step further — have your community manager involved from the start and you might avoid the Public Relations issue or crisis altogether.
Using Airtable to Manage Conference Submissions
One of the common questions in DevRel is how to keep track of CFPs and speaking engagements. For people who are on the road often (sometimes more often than not), there’s an art to keeping track of their speaking engagements in a way that is functional as well as relatively lightweight, which is difficult given all of the moving pieces.
Heidi Waterhouse shared her solution in this detailed blogpost and I’m both amazed at the simplicity and in awe of the power that Airtable provides. I’m not traveling frequently enough this days to take full advantage of it, but for those of you who are… enjoy!
Keep Your Eye On Community — Not On Influence
As the face of a company, DevRel professionals often feel like we need to be thought leaders and influencers in our space, but what does this actually mean? As J. Kelly Hoey points out, it's not a title we can bestow upon ourselves, and it doesn't happen overnight. I appreciated this wisdom from her recent blogpost:
You don’t set out to be an “influencer”. You set out to add value. And if what you share online is valuable to 1 person (YOU!) then great. What more do YOU need? If others find what you post useful or helpful, then terrific. Keep being generous, kind, helpful. And if you wake up one day with an army of people who are hanging on your every post, be extremely grateful, as you’ve discovered your voice and a way to connect with others.
Innersource: A Guide to the What, Why, and How
What happens when the tool your company most needs isn’t something that they can buy, but is something that they must learn? This is yet another role where the skills of Developer Relations professionals can come in handy. Jono Bacon explains:
Innersource is not a product or service that you buy and install on your network. It is instead a term that refers to the overall workflow, methodology, community, and culture that optimizes an organization for open source style collaboration… It is very important to note that innersource is not merely about optimizing how people write code. Sure, workflow is a key component, but innersource is fundamentally cultural in focus.
Read more about what inner source is and the benefit it can have for your organization.
How to Socialize Your Brand
Starting a new social media profile can feel overwhelming at times, whether your brand is well-known and you’re creating an off-shoot or you’re starting a brand-new startup’s first account. But we start with the same question that we should always be using when it comes to our community work: Why? Why are we spending time doing this? And also, why would our community want to meet us here?
As Corina Manea, founder of NutsPR, points out in a recent article, showing the people inside your company is a good place to start.
By involving your employees, those who become your internal brand ambassadors, you show the human side of your brand. You show that you care. Because a brand that takes care of its employees takes care of its customers.
On the other hand, Barry W. Enderwick brings up a fair point in a "what not to do" article about brand advocacy.
#GoSwagless — An Open Source Campaign to Encourage Charitable Giving
Swag is an ever-present conversation in DevRel circles — what’s the best swag these days, who are the best distributors, what’s the best pricing, how should you ship things overseas -- the list goes on and on. But there’s been a #GoSwagless movement recently — companies that are opting instead to give money to a charity of your choice (usually allowing you to choose one from a pre-selected group) instead of you taking home the latest chotches. Read more about companies that are investing in this swagless movement and find out how you can join them today!
Summer reading list for building your community 📚
Looking for good business books to dive into this summer? Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré has posted a summer reading list for community builders, and it includes many of the top books in the industry! There's plenty to keep you busy here until The Business Value of Developer Relations is released in a few months 😉
Managing without a Manager
Many DevRel teams don't have a team manager (e.g. you report directly to the CTO or CMO) or there's a temporary gap while you're waiting to hire a DevRel Manager, which can sometimes take a little while. So what do you do in the meantime? Leslie & Laura have a few suggestions.
Do you need to be a developer to work in DevRel?
In my experience, this is one of the most commonly asked questions about Developer Relations. The folks over at DevRel.net tackle this question around Developer Advocates specifically.
What's my opinion, you ask? I think it depends on the role. Developer Relations is an umbrella term for everything that falls under building (and supporting) a technical audience, which includes technical (e.g. Developer Advocate) as well as non-technical roles (e.g. Technical Community Manager, Technical Content Manager, etc.). DJ Adams touches on this a bit in his recent blogpost about his experiences at SAP as a Developer Advocate.
I think it's important that everyone in Developer Relations has a working understanding of the product and can at the very least connect customers and community members to others in the company who can answer more technical questions. But do I believe that everyone in DevRel needs to be able to sit down and code competently? Nope.
What's your opinion? Hit reply and let me know!
How Practitioner Marketing Can Help Developer Relations
I've spent some time lately chatting with folks about what department DevRel belongs in and what we can learn from the departments that already exist. Specifically, there's been a lot of controversy around the Marketing department, and from a quick glance at typical practices, it makes sense!
As Emmy & Naomi of Redefining Communities say,
What we saw happening was not community building, it was captive audience creation. Bringing people together with the primary intention of being able to sell what you do to them.
But this blogpost from Fixate brings an interesting perspective, pointing out what DevRel can learn from "practitioner marketing." It's full of great ideas and suggestions that everyone should read, whether or not your department falls under Marketing!
Is your online community like a picnic?
Art Gelwicks argues that instead of building an empire, we should be equating community building to hosting a picnic:
As community leaders and builders, our job is to host the picnic. We supply some of the goodies, make sure there’s plenty of napkins and plates, keep the ice bucket filled, and remind people to bring the things they promised to bring. At the end of the day though the success or failure of the picnic is on the shoulders of the planner, not the attendees.
Orchestrating Compelling Engagement
With almost a decade of experience, The Community Roundtable has learned a lot about what sets great engagement strategies apart. In this blogpost, they share the four most important elements:
- Shared Purpose
- Shared Value
- Key Behaviors
- Value Add Inputs and Value Gained Outputs
Creating a Space for All to Enjoy, Whether Online or in Your Neighborhood
Whether you’re building a community of developers or giving back to your local community in your neighborhood, the same principles apply:
- Highlight what you have in common to show solidarity and build connections
- Contributing to projects as a group brings satisfaction and good memories, which increases the stickiness of the community
- Successfully completing one project often spurs another, which leads to continuous improvement and an increasingly strong community of contributors
Developer Relations revelations
Chris Heilmann, Program Manager for Open Web and Browsers at Microsoft, started a new blog series on DevRel: a behind-the-scenes look at Developer Advocacy if you will. The first post, Developer Relations revelations: not all is glamour and fun serves as an intro to DevRel as well as a bit of a reality check. If you're interested in a true "tell-all" of DevRel, this is a good place to start.
One from the Archives 📰
Descriptive Job Titles
As we've talked about before, the term "Community Manager" has become a bit muddled over the years, and it continues to be a popular topic on Twitter:
Tip for teams looking for a community manager: consider changing the title to something more descriptive and transferable in and out of our industry.
Luckily, you're not alone in this! CMX Hub wrote an article about how to write a descriptive community manager job description (and title) several years ago, and it's still as relevant as ever.
Ultimate Travel Guide
The DevRelCon London organizers are looking for a talk that offers the "ultimate #devrel guide to travel."
Think you've got some tips to share? Submit your CFP before it closes on July 31!
CMX Summit Scholarship Opportunity
Are you a developer community organizer interested in joining a global event of community leaders? Apply for Google Developers Community Groups #CMXSummit scholarship by 7/16. Not a program member yet? Join here: https://buff.ly/2MUUCMe.
Developer Relations Events
From webinars to events all over the world, if you're looking for professional development opportunities, you're in luck.
Developer Relations Jobs
Looking for a new gig? Check out a variety of DevRel-related jobs, from Developer Advocate to Sr. DevRel Manager.
Hiring? I'm in the process of creating sponsorship opportunities for companies who would like their jobs to be featured front & center in this section of the newsletter! Be sure to reach out for more information.
Developer Avocados 🥑
Developer Avocados -- Cute Happenstance or Valuable Analogy?
In case you ever doubted my dedication to the #DeveloperAvocado cause, let me introduce my new favorite headshot, compliments of the incredibly talented Erick Zelaya. Stay tuned for the reveal of the final cover for The Business Value of Developer Relations -- there are a lot more avocados coming your way!
However, let me offer one caveat to the latest followers of the "Developer Avocado" movement. Joe Nash recently expressed concern about putting a serious definition around Developer Avocados, and he has a fair point:
Our little niche already wastes so much time and energy drawing lines between these titles (particularly advocate/evangelist), could we pls not take a cute nice thing & add to that mix? 😭
I have a tendency to agree with him on this, which might catch some of you off guard. But here's the deal -- I've used the "Developer Avocado" analogy all over the place for the last 2 years to explain what we do in Developer Relations, but I think trying to put a serious definition on "developer avocados" just muddies the water even more. There are so many different titles as it is - let's focus on getting an industry-accepted definition of Developer Relations before we spend too much energy on something that many stakeholders will view as a waste of time.
We need to be taken more seriously and I'm concerned that this "new definition", especially when presented as something that came out of a typo rather than an analogy of the value that DevRel brings to the table, will undermine our efforts to be accepted as valuable in the broader business community.
Thoughts? Hit reply -- I'd love to hear what you think!