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Developer Relations is a rapidly growing field. As technology advances and software development becomes increasingly complex, businesses are turning to Developer Relations professionals to bridge the gap between developers and businesses. In this blog post, we will explore some of the current trends in Developer Relations.
This article contains my personal insights and notes from DevRelCon Prague. I attended the conference for the first time and was blown away by the expert presentations and valuable insights shared by industry leaders. In this article, I share some of the key takeaways that stood out to me.
If you share or quote these insights, please credit the speaker - links to their LinkedIn profiles are added next to each of the insights.
Developer Relations in a downturn - where do we go?
Two of the presentations that left a lasting impression on me were Ben Greenberg’s and Matty Stratton’s talks about the challenges and opportunities facing DevRel teams during times of economic downturn.
What is your “why”?
Ben's presentation focused on the challenges of showing the success of a DevRel team, and he made the point that relationships are difficult to quantify. However, he emphasized that teams who don't measure their work often have a hard time proving and showing it to the organization. The key to long-term success in DevRel, according to Ben, is to show value across the entire organization and to own the narrative about how DevRel impacts the work of other teams.
During times of economic downturn it is especially important for DevRel teams to focus on what is creating the highest impact. In order to do this effectively, Ben emphasized the importance of really understanding the "why" behind your work. By understanding the underlying motivations for your actions, you can make sure that you are prioritizing the right projects and initiatives to maximize your impact on the organization.
What is the value of Developer Relations?
Matty closed the DevRelCon Prague with a thought-provoking presentation about where the value of DevRel lies. He touched on the difficult topic of the need for DevRel teams to understand how their company makes money, and to work towards these goals together with other teams.
According to Matty, during times of economic downturn, collaboration between DevRel, sales, and marketing teams is especially crucial. These teams need to understand how they can impact each other and how they can deliver value together. Matty also challenged the notion that sales teams are inherently "bad" or "toxic," and emphasized the potential for marketing teams to help distribute the content that DevRel teams create.
Check Ben’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rabbigreenberg/
Check Matty’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattstratton/
Gratitude, recognition, inclusion
One theme that emerged from all of the talks at DevRelCon Prague was the importance of gratitude, recognition, and inclusion for developer community members. Speakers emphasized the need to show appreciation for the work and contributions of community members, and to provide them with the support and recognition they need to feel valued and included in the larger dev community ecosystem. This can help to motivate community members to make contributions and become advocates for products, ultimately driving the success of DevRel efforts.
Collaboration between DevRel and other teams
Another topic that was discussed repeatedly at DevRelCon Prague was the need for DevRel teams to work closely with marketing, sales, and product teams within the company. As someone with experience in product management and marketing, I found this to be a particularly important point.
Daniel Bryant gave an excellent presentation on product-led growth and the benefits of creating cross-functional teams that include DevRel members. He argued that DevRel teams can learn a lot from product teams about conducting experiments and using product analytics, while product teams can benefit from DevRel's insights on user feedback and market opportunities. Overall, the importance of collaboration between these teams was emphasized as a key factor in achieving growth and success.
Check Daniel’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielbryantuk/
Champions, Ambassadors, Advocates - turning developer community members into advocates and ambassadors
Karin Wolok and Ully Sampaio gave presentations on the topic of turning developer community members into advocates and ambassadors for tech products. Both of them emphasized the importance of gratitude and recognition for community members' work and contributions.
A bigger role of contributor in the community ecosystem
Karin talked about the fact that people want to feel valuable to the larger dev community ecosystem, and shared some strategies for motivating them to make contributions. These include tying them into something bigger, showing them the potential impact of their work, and demonstrating that there is a demand for the blog posts or documentation they are creating. By showing them the actual impact, sharing the feedback and spreading gratitude, you can prove to them that their work is valuable. She also discussed the use of gamification and the "status game" to incentivize community members, drawing on Google's system for reviewing restaurants as an example.
Building Developer Champions programs
Ully gave us a talk on building champions programs. Drawing on her experience with the Elastic Champions Program, she shared her insights on how to define the "why" behind such a program, as well as best practices for launching a pilot, conducting a retrospective, and improving the program over time. Overall, Ully emphasized the importance of building strong relationships with community members and providing them with the support and recognition they need to become advocates for your products.
Advocate not only for product, but also for company’s values and culture
Brandon West demonstrated to us that there is another key role to fulfill as a Developer Advocate or Ambassador - that of an ambassador for your company's culture. They must embody your company's values when interacting with users at conferences or other events, as they are often the face of your company. Developer Relations is not just about the product or the brand, but it is about the culture of the company first and foremost.
Check Karin’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinwolok/
Check Ully’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ully-carolinne-sampaio-4782203a/
Check Brandon’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bmwest/
My thoughts about DevRelCon Prague
As a first-time attendee of DevRelCon, I was blown away by the quality of the presentations and the insights shared by industry experts. But beyond the talks, I also want to give a big shoutout to Matthew Revel and his team for organizing such a fantastic event. Everything that you could want from a conference, from karaoke to amazing food, was included.
One of the things that really stood out to me was the friendly and welcoming atmosphere during the coffee breaks. As an introvert who is sometimes intimidated by approaching people at conferences, I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone chatting and exchanging experiences, knowledge, and thoughts. It was clear that this was a group of DevRel professionals who are truly passionate about building relationships. Thank you for creating such a warm and inclusive environment!