Masters of Community with David Spinks
How to Build an Awesome Developer Relations Team with Wesley Faulkner & PJ Hagerty
December 6, 2021
In this episode of Masters of Community, we speak with Wesley Faulkner, Head of Community at SingleStore, and PJ Hagerty, Head of Developer Relations at Mattermost, and Founder/Chief Community Officer of Wesley and PJ are also Co-hosts of Community Pulse. Our host, David Spinks, VP of Community at Bevy and the Co-Founder of CMX, moderated the conversation. David talks with Wesley and PJ about developer relations, developer evangelism, developer engagement, developer community, and the developer relations role of connecting, serving, and supporting developer ecosystems. They also uncover the differences between those terms and how the role of developer relations has evolved. Who is this episode for? Developers, heads of developer relations, software community managers, and developer evangelists. Three key takeaways: 1. Defining developer relations: Developer relations is a term that describes the specialists or teams whose responsibilities include building and developing both online and offline communities. There are many names for developer relations, like developer advocacy, developer community, developer marketing, or developer evangelist. 2. Building developer communities: Companies need to have developer relation teams to provide support and growth to their members. There should be a few dev advocates who can go out and speak to different communities. It's crucial to balance everything and have efficient communication within the community to meet people's needs. The team members need to focus on various aspects of the community. But, the end goal is to incorporate all of those people together as one team. The mission of a Dev Rel is building, understanding, and engaging, and bringing that back into the business to guide the roadmap to get more buy-in and trust. 3. Engaging developers within communities: There is much demand for developers' attention. Many companies offer attention-seeking content for developers, trying to bring them into their communities. Meanwhile, developers are looking for ways to engage with like-minded people and become a part of a supportive community. Dev rels working in the industry know how to communicate, engage, and understand what developers want. Thus, they can satisfy their needs and adapt their form of communication, either by writing blog posts, creating podcasts, workshops, or whatever developers like. Notable Quotes: 1. “Every company now should have a dev rel team. They should have advocates or evangelists helping to talk to people who work in technology.” 𑁋 PJ 2. “Keep everything in balance, meaning that there's adequate communication to the community of developers. And the developers, once they feel heard, they produce a response back to the company. And then, if it's healthy, the company responds healthily back to the community.” 𑁋 Wesley 3. “A Dev Rel's job is not just to be a catalyst or the community's voice. But also a member of the external communities you wish to interact with. And the more you do that, the more you participate, the more you go out to the community, the more you're going to create value that you can then bring back internally.” 𑁋 PJ Answers to rapid-fire questions: 1. What's your favorite book to give as a gift to others or to recommend to others? PJ: "The Business Value of Developer Relations: How and Why Technical Communities Are Key To Your Success" by Mary Thengvall Wesley: "Just Work: How to Root Out Bias, Prejudice, and Bullying to Build a Kick-Ass Culture of Inclusivity" by Kim Scott 2. What's one guest you had on your podcast that made you change your mind about something, and what did they make you change your mind about? PJ: Elizabeth Kinsey, Community Manager at Slack. She came in and showed me the value of developer marketing. She showed me that caring about developers and marketing to developers, developing that messaging, and understanding how to talk to developers is important. So, in reality, it's not that we should be working with different means towards the same end. It's that we should be working hand in hand to understand how better to communicate with communities. Wesley: Bear Douglas, Director of Developer Relations at Slack. Her perspective on metrics was very enlightening to me. 3. Wesley, you’ve said that “Community shapes us.” To what extent do you feel that we are shaped by our communities versus being ones that shaped the communities around us? So, it's a weird feedback loop where sometimes, we bring the cells that we think will be accepted, and so that shows what the community should be and how we are trying to present it to them. And then vice versa, the community reacts to what we present, and then we get a feedback cycle based on what they think they should be doing, and then we acceptably react to that. 4. PJ, you’ve said that “Community doesn't come to you. You have to go to the community”. What tips do you have for applying this advice and taking action? I think that it's kind of right there in the answer, go to where they are. If your community primarily communicates on IRC, join the IRC channel. If you have a heavy influence in the Midwest, go to all the Midwest conferences, meetups, and events, find out where they are. Go and talk to these people. And I'm not just talking about going to where the community is, but also bringing yourself to the level of the community. 5. What's a go-to community engagement or conversation starter that you like to use in your communities? PJ: Hey, what brought you here? Wesley: What do you think about this? What do you think about this conversation? What do you think of the people here? 6. What is the weirdest community you've ever been a part of? PJ: Jelle's Marble League Wesley: Engineering fraternity in college 7. If you were to find yourself on your deathbed today, and you had to condense all of the life lessons that you've collected into one Twitter-sized piece of advice for the rest of the world on how to live, what would that advice be? PJ: Everybody's a human. So try to be kind to each other, and do your best. Wesley: You are the best version of yourself. Stick with that. And if you look at yourself and you feel that you could be better, do better.
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