There are many urban legends about folks working in developer relations, and some of the legends do correlate with reality more than I, a person who dedicated my whole professional experience to the craft, would like it to be.
For the fun of it, here's an exercise. Try to assemble 10 developer relations people from different companies and compare their duties. I do it every devrel meetup I host (the next #devrel Stockholm meetup is on November 28).
You've guessed it right. These people would do different things and often would have different opinions of what developer relations is ;-) Isn't it fun?
Developer evangelist or an advocate, developer success manager, customer support engineer, technical account manager, field engineer — all these job titles hide programmers, who enjoy enabling others more than writing code inside a peaceful environment of their soundproof headphones. All of them also have diverse duties, while being under a single developer relations umbrella.
Does your company make a product primarily used by programmers? APIs, middlewares, game engines and all kind of developer tools find market adoption much easier if supported by a developer relations program. Sometimes these programs grow out of sales, marketing or engineering.
Yet before they do, here's a checklist:
2 - You’re herding a community of programmers in any sense of this almost funny pseudo-sarcastic expression.
But here's the trick. Are you enjoying it? Do you like empowering other programmers enough to spend less time becoming a better programmer yourself? That's a plot twist I'll blog on later =)
For now, here's a tentative number 4. If you’re a software developer who enjoys talking about tech on the internet or even (gasp!) live, publicly… chances are there’s a developer advocate or a technical evangelist hidden under your skin!
Now welcome to the club. Now life has just become more complex, as additionally to learning how to be a better programmer you may also want to learn how to be better with people, how to interact with the business, marketing and support. And how to not burnout, what is unfortunately too common in the devrel field.
My very humble opinion is that now you also may want to hang out with fellow Developer Advocates. Technical Evangelists. Customer Success Engineers. Developer Community Managers. Technical Writers. Developer Experience Managers. Sales and Support Engineers. Technical Product Owners.
The answer is plain and easy: to learn from each other in the multitude of dimensions:
- folks from bigger corps are often very good at putting numbers to their travel and event work;
- API providers often can share a lot about the open-source practices and community building;
- game dev people contribute their experience of facilitating game jams (it’s hackathons for the non-game dev crowd);
- everyone even after 10 years in devrel still talks about being a good speaker and making nicer slides;
We talk career prospects, references, cool events and meetups… We discuss tools that make our lives better. We ask each other for the feedback on our content drafts. We… moan… Yes. Because everybody needs a safe space to moan instead of doing in on Facebook.
I run non-profit devrel meetups in Stockholm and Vilnius. Then there are nice meetups in London, Paris and Munich. But probably if you ask in the comments, we'll crowdsource an event or at least a pub meetup in your area.
There's also a helpful online Slack community for devrel people. It involves a screening process to join (that I have no control of or affiliation). Getting there helped me to feel better about what I do and what I want to do. It is a decent space to ask questions, get feedback and share back some love.