This has been a whirlwind week! Thanks for your patience with this newsletter issue. Between my laptop debacle and my keynote at Gluecon, I was taking my own advice and pushing anything and everything off of my plate that wasn't absolutely essential to get me through the day.
As we close out the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month here in the United States, I've been focusing on this mentality more and more in order to not only prevent but protect against burnout. What's essential? What's necessary? What's fulfilling and satisfying? What can (and should!) be delegated? What can be documented so that it's easier in the future?
I've been going through the book How to Not Always be Working to answer some of these questions. As people who love to build communities, our work often bleeds into our personal life in a way that makes it difficult to tell the difference. And with the mental health crisis in tech continuing to rear its ugly head, we need to be making sure that we're acknowledging these issues and addressing them head-on as they come up.
I'm grateful for companies like Vimeo, who are aware of these issues and are willing to address them with their employees. I'll actually be in NYC the week of June 3, leading a panel at Vimeo about burnout: how to prevent it as well as how to spot it in yourself as well as in your employees.
Want to chat while I'm in NYC? I've set up a handful of casual coaching meetings: 2-hour sessions with individuals and companies to brainstorm upcoming projects, walk through current initiatives, and get feedback on their DevRel and community programs. Snag a spot or send me an email for more information.
Before we jump into the awesome content from this week, I wanted to give out a special shoutout to our new sponsor, DevRelCon San Francisco. It's a fantastic opportunity to interact with and learn from other DevRel, Community, and Developer Experience professionals.
DevRel Weekly Patreon
P.S. Co-Matter just launched their annual survey about The State of Communities. If you have a few extra minutes this weekend, please take part!
DevRel Advice Column
Developer / Developer Relations friends! I'm currently in the process of compiling a list of developer/tech conferences for the coming year. I'd love to hear which ones you think are the best! I'd also be happy to share my spreadsheet with anyone who is interested 🤘
DevRel Friends: I'm moving into a product evangelism role at my current company! What's your best advice on how to structure your days? I'm trying to figure out how to balance research, writing, social media, and events now that this is a full time job rather than side project.
Traveling a lot for work, what do you do to stay healthy / in shape on the road and manage stress?
DevRel is Serving. Plain & Simple.
DevRel is there as a service for developers. It’s not imposing, it’s not expecting, it’s serving.
That can be in coding. But also in career advice, giving success moments and helping people on their journey.
It’s serving. Pure and simple.
Prioritize Engagement Above Growth
Focus on engaging your existing community members before you focus on growth. 📈
1️⃣Why did they join
2️⃣What do they hope to achieve
3️⃣How did they find your community
Invest in these & watch your community grow
Invest in DevRel, Not in Flashy Events
Hey tech companies, I've been in the industry for about 20 years.
Some free food won't make me buy your tool. Speaking to someone who actually used it to develop something more complicated than Hello World just might.
Invest in speakers and #devrel, not so-called flashy events.
On the Importance of Collecting Feedback
“Developers will find a way, whether, you give them one or not. A workaround is trying to tell you something.”
- @karen_pwhite on creating awesome DX for your #api at #NordicAPIs #AustinAPISummit #devrel
Was Trust Built or Strengthened? If Yes, It's a Success.
This. This should be the intent of every single community building effort. Every single damn time. This. This is the only key metric. The only question to ask is "Was trust built/strengthened?" Everything else is gravy.
-Rick Turoczy, quoting from a blogpost by Patrick Riley
Authenticity Drives Engagement
Authentic people 👥derive more informative engagement within a community - the core objective of any #CMGR should be to build a set of people with the right mindset 😇👌
The Vision Must be Shared at the C-Level
Last week's ESNChat covered the topic of how to save your community from an untimely death. These two quotes caught my attention:
Yes, measuring is necessary. But don't report just numbers, try to engage in an educating dialogue with leadership about what these numbers mean for the company, its biz strategy, etc. And spice it up with some great stories about what ppl have achieved thru the [community].
Today's chat is reminding me that the [community] is not ours as such it is the org's, and ownership should be wider than us in #cmgr role. That can be a great thing re: embedding the ESN: beware "knowing-it-all" & not involving others in strategy & policy decisions
Interested in more from this Twitter chat? Read the full thread.
Relatedly, Greg Bulmash replied to a separate conversation around this topic:
The company needs a vision of DevRel that's shared at the C-level, so if the primary DevRel champion leaves, the senior leadership proactively seeks another champion. Otherwise, the vacuum results in other leaders breaking up and parceling out DevRel's assets and budget.
Likewise, this thread from Charity Majors reinforces the fact that unless our C-suite stakeholders understand the true value of Developer Relations, we'll be constantly fighting to do our jobs at full capacity.
I am increasingly of the opinion that ~every company who employs developer advocates / evangelists is outrageously underutilizing and undervaluing them, even undermining them. To their own distinct disadvantage.
But there is hope! As @inwardeye says,
I'm not a baby engineer, but a year after following and studying several prominent DevRels for the what and how, I'm experiencing the multiplier effect in my work.
DevRel is at the cresting edge of the next wave.
What is Developer Relations (and why should you care?)
I took the time to write up my Gluecon keynote as a blogpost before I gave the talk. Pro tip: It was a great way for me to run through my notes one last time without having to rehearse yet again! It also allowed attendees to get additional resources fairly immediately after (or during!) my talk, which was a nice perk.
My hope is that this blogpost will be an effective way to explain what Developer Relations is to the technical folks around us, helping them understand once and for all why we're here (news flash: it's not for our companies... it's for them!) and why they should care about Developer Relations.
2019 Edition of the Community Maturity Model
The Community Maturity Model has a fresh new face thanks to the folks over at The Community Roundtable. However, the concepts are just as good as they always have been! This model will help you frame your view of how communities approaches develop over time within your company as your community matures.
How Dev Spaces Should Fit Into Your Developer Community Mix
When someone asks me how to build a community "from scratch," my first response is always "Your community already exists... it's just a matter of finding them." Chances are, someone's already talking about your particular nuance of API or tooling -- now it's time for you to figure out where those conversations are happening and engage.
But how do we engage? And how do you keep up-to-speed on the relevant conversations? Sarah-Jane Morris has an excellent blogpost that covers how (and when) to set up alerts, filtering the noise, and being cautious about how quickly you jump in.
DevRel Career Advice
Looking for some career advice from folks who have been in the trenches for years?
Richard Millington starts us off with a good one:
If you don’t love research, identifying costs, project planning, developing benchmarks, getting internal support, and building decision trees, don’t become a community strategist.
He explores this concept in more depth in this blogpost, explaining that while these are the less attractive bits of community building, they're intrinsic to your success.
Lisa Devaney dives into 13 myths about Community Management next, highlighting objections that we might hear from our stakeholders as well as beliefs we may be holding ourselves.
Jeanne Meister took an interesting approach to the idea of automating work in a recent Forbes article. Rather than focusing on AI, she explored self-automation, looking at jobs where the work could be simplified, delegated, and most importantly, repeatedly done without human intervention. As we continue to explore which metrics are the right ones to track and how to reach out to each and every one of our community members, these automation tools are going to become a more important part of our job. We should begin to ask this question right along with Jeanne:
How can job automation become less a top-down mandate and more a bottom-up movement?
Lastly, I recently spoke on a panel with Bear Douglas, Vanessa Diaz, and Gabriela de Queiroz. We gave advice on how to join the DevRel industry as well as landmines to watch out for and how to find the right company for you. Check out a sampling of the tweets from the attendees in this Moment.
We're going a bit meta with the first podcast on the list this week: Tim Hildred interviewed me about DevRel Weekly in his new Newsletterers podcast. Tune in if you'd like to hear all about the ins and outs of how I create DevRel Weekly and why I always caution against someone starting a weekly newsletter 😅
Here are the other DevRel-related podcast episodes that you might want to check out this week:
- How Online Communities Can Disappear if Section 230 Gets Repealed - Community Signal
- Ben Greenberg: From Rabbi to Developer Advocate - We Belong Here: Lessons from Unconventional Paths to Tech. Ben also has an interview up on DevRel.net this week with more in-depth information about his current role.
- Phil Hawksworth, Head of Developer Relations at Netlify - Static Bits
- The Role of a Developer Advocate and How to be Productive as a Developer with Sebastian Daschner - Developer Melange
- From Daybreaker to Tech Leaders- How Mustafa Khan Uses Research to Build Community - The C2C Podcast
- Technical Evangelism as the Voice of Building, Shipping, and Operationalizing Better Software with Priyanka Sharma - Frontier Podcast
- Inclusion and diversity to build developers of tomorrow with Arabella David - Under the Hood of Developer Marketing
There are a handful of folks that have been tweeting about favorite business- and community-related books recently, some of which are self-organizing into bookclubs. Here's a sampling:
- Jono Bacon is tweeting out his favorite business books with the hashtag #BaconBookClub:
Recommendation 1: 'Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People'. A powerful book with pragmatic recommendations applicable to both career and life. Read it and bake these into your weekly routine: it helps keep you focused on the right goals, problems, and approaches.
Recommendation 2: 'Predictably Irrational' by @danariely. A fascinating insight into the psychological blueprint behind our behavior, with a raft of examples. Great food for thought to understand how to build better relationships, teams, and user-facing products.
Stay tuned for 8 more books in the weeks to come.
- Simon R.J. Fogg is organizing an online book club around Peter Block's "Community: The Structure of Belonging." Grab your copy and join the conversation.
DevRel Con San Francisco
Join us at DevRelCon San Francisco to learn and share with other dev rel, community, and developer experience practitioners. We'll have two days of conference, unconference, and networking sessions, with speakers including Google's Kelsey Hightower, Heavybit's Dana Oshiro, Microsoft's Jeff Sandquist, and many more.
Developer Relations Events
Find yourself in a creative rut lately? Take a break from your writer’s block to go to an awesome upcoming event! Maybe it’ll spark an idea and unleash a flood of content creation!
Samsara brings together connected sensors and software in order to improve the safety and efficiency of operations for customers around the world. We are looking for a lead developer advocate to empower our developers to build applications and integrate Samsara’s IoT technologies into mission-critical systems. While we are currently working with a myriad of partners and large customers to build out solutions, we’re looking for someone who can help scale our developer program to the next level.
Developer Relations Jobs
No job is worth putting up with a toxic work environment or an abusive boss. Take it from me, something even better is just around the corner. Check out this collection of open doors waiting for you to knock.