Building A Community
As a developer advocate, I get the priveledge of meeting developers doing all kinds of projects. They don’t work in the same ways, or use the same languages. It’s great to see what people are doing and how they blaze their own trails.
Developer advocacy is about one thing really - creating new advocates. There are tons of posts about tactics to manage communities, grow/nuture them. I can tell you this - the tactics are simple, and really only a few.
1. Meet new people
Face to face, 1:1, handshake to handshake - meet them. It’s not about how many followers you have on Twitter or how viral you can make a post. It’s about actually physically talking to someone, and building a relationship with that person. Share their joys, be a shoulder to cry on, and be a friend. It’s not quick, it’s not easy, but it’s effective. You build a community one relationship at a time.
2. Be genuine
There are tons of people out there who claim to be an advocate, but can’t develop. This is crap - and any developer who know’s his/her stuff, will see right through the act. If you can’t code your way out of a paper bag, find a new career.
3. Have fun with it
I recently travelled to Austin where we met up with a few developers. It was a ton of fun. It builds a memory for everyone - “You remember that one time - that was great!” Developers are people too, who like having a good time, not just code all day long. So make your relationship one about code, and have a little fun too.
4. Keep doing it
You cannot, under any circumstance, simply stop. You can rest, vacation, break, whatever - but when you stop building relationships, it’s time to hang it up and move on. These relationships are exactly what your job is all about. It’s not really even a job - it’s making lots of friends, with different skill sets, who all look to you as someone who get’s it, and can help.
I’ll admit it - I don’t know everything. I’m still learning half of the things I use daily. But that’s ok - we all are. And sometimes it’s just easier to learn it together. And when it really hurts, that’s where the best part about it is - I get to ask someone to change it, and make it better. That’s the payoff.