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As a developer relations professional, you're no stranger to the challenges that come with the territory. From managing a constantly shifting landscape of technologies and platforms, to navigating the delicate balance between product development, marketing and community building, the role of a DevRel professionals is never easy.
But as with any industry, there's always a dark side - and DevRel is no exception. From burnout and imposter syndrome, to the pressure to constantly produce content and engage with the community, the demands of the job can take a heavy toll on even the most experienced professionals. And as a Developer relations is an umbrella term for all the stuff related to educating developers to use your technology - it can mean a lot and include tasks from marketing, management, sales, product and more.
So what can be done to mitigate these challenges and make the world of DevRel a little brighter? In this article, we'll dive into the dark side of the Developer relations industry and explore some solutions put forward by experts in the field.
Balancing tech and talk: navigating the challenges of having a complex skill set in Developer Relations
Being a developer relations pro is like being a circus performer, you have to juggle multiple skills, and the stakes are high. You need to be a tech wizard who can code with the best of them and a master of the art of persuasion, able to build a developer audience, focus on empowering developers. But, just like a circus performer, it can be hard to keep all the plates spinning, especially when the industry is constantly evolving.
One moment, you're deep in the code and technical aspects, the next you're networking and schmoozing. It's a lot to handle, and it can be easy to feel like you're doing everything and nothing at the same time. That's why it's essential to focus on what you do best and not try to be everything to everyone.
Another challenge is that everyone thinks they can do your job, and they may question your methods. But hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's important to take constructive feedback and make tweaks, but don't forget that you got here for a reason, trust your abilities. And remember, all your skills are seen as "soft skills" when they're actually very hard. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice to perfect those skills.
In short, being a DevRel is a high-wire act that requires you to balance tech and talk. It's challenging, but with focus, determination, and a bit of flair, you can pull off the impossible.
Tip #1: Build your DevRel career consciously
It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with everything, and it's easy to feel like you're never going to find your way out. The key to success is to have a plan and a clear idea of where you want to go as a DevRel.
One solution is to make a conscious decision about your career path in DevRel role. Take a step back and think about which direction you want to specialize in, which skills are a must-have for you, and which ones are "good to know basics." Consider which parts of your job you enjoy and which ones you do just because you have to. By identifying the things that are most important to you, you can create a roadmap for your career and stay focused. Like writing and creating content? Think abou technical writer career. Got a various backgrounds in product and marketing? Think about Developer Experience Manager role.
It doesn't have to be an overnight change, and you don't have to change everything at once. But by having a clear understanding of your goals and priorities, you'll know which direction you're moving forward in and can make decisions with more confidence. In short, it's time to take control of your Developer Relations journey and chart your course for success.
Tip #2: Build relationships with other team in your organization
Most DevRel professionals at the center of all things related to product team, marketing, customer support, and sales. With this unique position comes a unique responsibility - to build strong relationships with these teams. After all, you're all working towards the same company goals and can help each other immensely if you're communicating effectively.
The key to building strong relationships is setting expectations about communication flows, the work each of the teams can do, data you can provide to each other, and how your work will impact each other's metrics. By setting clear guidelines and maintaining open lines of communication, you'll be able to collaborate more effectively and achieve better results as a DevRel team.
For examples, your product folks would love to get as much feedback from your users, developers, as possible (even if it's negative) and the marketing team would love to solve the never ending problem DevRel qualified leads vs marketing qualified leads.
So don't underestimate the power of collaboration. Take the time to build strong relationships with other teams, and watch as your DevRel efforts become more effective and impactful. By working together, you'll be able to achieve more than you ever thought possible.
Tip #3: Do not be afraid to ask for help
When it comes to DevRel teams, building strong relationships with other teams can make a huge difference in the success of your efforts. And one of the biggest benefits of having these relationships is the ability to easily ask for help with unique tasks.
Think about it, if you have a strong relationship with your marketing team, they can help you set up proper website analytics and traffic metrics. And your product team can give you valuable feedback on how to communicate new features to your developer community members. Having these teams on your side can make a huge difference in the success of your DevRel initiatives and strategy.
So, if you want to make your job as a DevRel professional or developer advocate easier and more effective, focus on building strong relationships with other teams. You'll be surprised at how much help you can get when you have a solid support system in place.
Conquering self-doubt: overcoming imposter syndrome in the world of DevRel
Imposter syndrome can be a major challenge for those working in Developer Relations. In fact, about 62% of global employees deal with it every day. The constant pressure to produce content and engage with the community can make it easy to feel like you're not good enough.
The idea that "if you don't get views, you don't have value" can be particularly debilitating. Even if you're successful in generating community engagement and views, the feeling that you're "really good at talking about things rather than doing things" can gnaw at you. The fear that the world needs "doers more than talkers" can lead to feelings of anxiety and insecurity. And the constant comparison to others who seem to be more successful can exacerbate these feelings.
It's important for those in DevRel to remember that imposter syndrome is a common experience and to work on building self-confidence and resilience. How to deal with that?
Tip #1: Focus on the facts, not stories
One way to combat imposter syndrome is by using the “facts vs. stories” method, proposed by the Conscious Leadership Group. This approach involves separating your feelings from the facts of a situation. Facts are observable truths, such as the number of views on your blog post or the feedback from a conference presentation. Stories, on the other hand, are the interpretations we place on these facts.
It’s natural for our brain to create stories, but by focusing on the facts, we can ground ourselves in reality. Next time you’re feeling like an imposter, refer back to the facts vs. stories of the situation. Instead of dwelling on the fact that your blog post didn’t get as many views as you wanted, focus on the feedback from readers or the connections you made through the post. This way, we can see the whole picture and not just one small part of it.
Tip #2: Keep track of your progress
When in doubt, it's always important to look back at the progress you've made. You can keep a jar with post-it, where you store all your successes. You can open Jira or other project tracker to see how much you have accomplished for a past few weeks. You can focus on the feedback you got in the last peer-to-peer review.
Make sure to create a place where you keep all of these "good stuff" and come back to it when in need. Remember, you are valuable, and your work is valuable. Keep pushing through and don't let imposter syndrome hold and your DevRel team back.
Setting priorities: managing the challenges of constant distractions in DevRel teams
As a developer advocate, particularly in an early stage tech startup, it can be easy to get pulled in a million different directions. Especially as a first hire for the Developer Relations team, there is a million things to do. With the constant influx of new ideas and opportunities, it's important to set priorities and not get swayed by every "shiny object" that comes your way. You cannot switch between "let's build a developer community and community management processed" one day to "we need to take care of developer experience" the next one.
This can be especially challenging if you have a technical background in a larger company or team, where there may be an overwhelming number of things to improve or build upon. Additionally, it's crucial to not get caught up in the constant stream of new ideas from the CEO, who may have seen something on Twitter (we've all been there) and got a ton of new ideas. It's important to stay focused on what is truly important for the Devrel team and the company, and what bring you business value.
Tip #1: Prioritization techniques
If you are a DevRel professional who has a difficulty defining the next thing to work on, here are some prioritization techniques that may help you with this:
The impact/effort matrix is a tool that helps you prioritize tasks by plotting them on a grid according to their potential impact and the amount of effort required to complete them. Then you can easily identify which tasks will have the greatest impact with the least amount of effort and allocate resources accordingly.
The MoSCoW Analysis is a method used to prioritize tasks or projects by categorizing them into Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won't Have categories. It can help DevRel professionals and teams focus on the most important tasks first and make sure that resources are allocated efficiently. Check more prioritization methods in the full article.
The constant on-call life: navigating the challenges of travel and a 24/7 job as a Developer Advocate
For developer advocates and DevRel professionals, your job is all about being on the go. From attending conferences to networking events to staying in touch with developers from your community, your calendar is always packed with opportunities to help other tech folks and spread the word about the technology, organization or product you work with.
But after a few months of working like this, you realize that your job is a 24/7 commitment. The FOMO is real - "I'll just answer these 3 messages on Discord community", "Oh, new questions on Stack Overflow", "Someone commented my video, let's see that".
It's easy to get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of being a DevRel. To avoid burnout and stay on top of your game, it's essential to set a schedule, prioritize rest, and make sure you are taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. It's the only way to keep up with the demanding but exciting life of a developer advocate.
Tip #1: Manage your schedule and listen to your body
As a developer advocates, the constant demands of travel and networking can take a toll on your body and mind. To avoid burnout, it's essential to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs.
For me, after a busy conference where I was speaking and networking nonstop, I know that I need a proper period of rest and recovery. That's why, on the day after a conference, I always decline any meetings and allow myself to sleep as much as I need, giving my body the time it needs to recharge.
If speaking at conferences brings you joy and fulfillment, it's important to make sure you're taking care of yourself, so you can continue to do it for years to come without burning out. Remember, taking care of yourself is essential to thriving in this fast-paced and demanding DevRel career.
Tip #2: Turn-off notifications
One simple yet often overlooked tip for managing stress and finding peace of mind as is to turn off notifications. Most smartphones and laptops (definitely iPhones and MacBooks) have built-in tools for managing notifications, such as the "Work," "Focus," "Do Not Disturb," and "Personal" modes.
By setting specific apps to only send notifications in certain modes, and even scheduling when different modes are active, you can greatly reduce the amount of distractions and interruptions in your life. I cannot stress enough how much this simple change has improved my own wellbeing. If you're feeling overwhelmed, give it a try and see the difference it can make in your own life.
In conclusion, the world of Developer Relations is not without its challenges. But by setting clear boundaries, focusing on your strengths, and prioritizing your time, you can mitigate the dark side of the industry and make your job a little brighter.
With the right approach, you can run successful DevRel programs and make a positive impact in the community of developers using your product.