Developer Relations: What is it?

Technology evolves fast. Faster than we could have ever imagined. As tech continues to grow, different sectors within get bigger — and move farther apart. This isn’t the only side effect of continuous growth: software becomes more complicated by the day. Both these things are amazing as they bring more and more possibilities to the table, for users and developers alike.

But as software development becomes ever more specialized, it also becomes stranger for those not familiar with it: even if you are a veteran software engineer, you might feel like a complete beginner if you face a new, entirely different product from what you are used to. Marketing was created to fix the distance between products and customers — it also helped to create bonds between different sectors within an industry.

But static marketing strategies found themselves out of luck in such a fluctuating industry like software development.

Who can help bridge the gap then?

Enter stage left: Developer Relations

There are countless names for people working in Developer Relations: DevRel, Developer Evangelist, Developer Advocate and a plethora of similar-sounding synonyms you might have already heard of. Developer Relations is rather simple to explain: It’s a field born out of a necessity within software development, to take care of the void marketing is unable to fulfill.

Someone working in developer relations is in charge to create a nexus between different sectors within the tech industry. He or she should also be the vehicle where information about a product is transported to the common people. A developer evangelist has one task at hand: to bring his company’s products to everyone he or she can reach and to do so in a simple manner.

As you know, software development is a complex field — a DevRel should take complex situations and translate them into a simpler language for everyone to understand.

What’s the job about?

As long as you are making your company’s products reach more people, you are doing an excellent job as a developer advocate (or any other name -of the many available- you might want to use for your job description). There are plenty of tools in this trade: Social media, blogging, vlogging, and public speaking. You should also be able to write and publicly share code to create a bigger community surrounding your company’s products.

A good DevRel has an active online presence but won’t stop there — he or she is also active in face to face encounters with other developers and customers. If it sounds an awful lot like marketing, that’s because it is. A DevRel’s job is to mix software engineering, marketing, and people skills.

They can take anything technology related and both simplify it and make it appealing for anyone listening: it can be an effort to reach a new customer base or to make third party developers interested in what your company is trying to promote. Either way, you are taking technology news to the people, whether they are professionals or not!but who can work as a DevRel?

But who can work as a DevRel?

If you are currently working in IT, you probably can! Most people working in developer relations are software developers or engineers who have decided to make use out of their people skills instead of their computer skills. A successful DevRel is made out of two ingredients: Software development experience and great communication skills.

As you know, a DevRel is in charge of getting his company’s product out to the masses: he or she needs to know what they are talking about (software development experience) and they need to know how to talk about it properly (communication skills).

Developer Relations is growing like no other field in IT — innovation and creativity are also necessary to thrive in this line of work. You’ll have to adapt to constant changes and be willing to learn new things all the time.

Ideally, you would have to be someone with vast software engineering experience and great people skills. But if you have a passion for technology and a way to get to people, you are made for this job.

If you feel this is the right job for you, congratulations! It’s time to get to work: you should either start volunteering at small tech companies you think are a great match for you and your style. If you don’t have a company in mind yet, you can start a blog or use social media to create a name for yourself in the tech business (and the DevRel world itself) and eventually the companies will reach you!

Are there any downsides to DevRel?

If you feel constantly reaching out to people, passionately teaching hard things to new users and always innovating to get your message across are not fun — then they are all downsides for this job!

If you love to write about, teach and promote technology this is the right job for you, but it comes with a warning: You might be dedicating yourself more to reaching people than software itself — you might feel like you’ll write less and less code and have little time to develop new projects. And you would be right about that. But that’s the price to pay to make technology reach new people and see how their lives improve because of it!

Are you thinking about a DevRel role? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter and as always thanks for reading!

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