Christian Heilmann

⚡️DevRelSummit was well worth it

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 at 10:47 am

Last week I was in Seattle to attend a few meetings and I was lucky to attend DevRelSummit in the Galvanize space. I was invited to cover an “Ask me anything” slot about Developer Outreach in Microsoft and help out Charles Morris of the Edge team who gave a presentation a similar matter.

It feels weird to have a conference that is pretty meta about the subject of Developer relations (and there is even a ConfConf for conference organisers), but I can wholeheartedly recommend DevRelSummit for people who already work in this field and those who want to.

The line-up and presentations were full of people who know their job and shared real information from the trenches instead of advertising products to help you. This is a very common worry when a new field in our job market gains traction. Anyone who runs events or outreach programs drowns in daily offers of “the turn-key solution to devrel success” or similar snake oil.

In short, the presentations were:

  • Bear Douglas of Slack (formerly Twitter and Facebook) sharing wins and fails of developer outreach
  • Charles Morris of Microsoft showing how he scaled from 3 people on the Edge team to a whole group, aligning engineering and outreach
  • Kyle Paul showing how to grow a community in spaces that are not technical cool spots and how to measure DevFest success
  • AJ Glasser of Unity explaining how to deal with and harvest feedback you get showing some traps to avoid
  • Damon Hernandez of Samsung talking about building community around hackathons
  • Linda Xie of Sourcegraph showing the product and growth cycle of a new software product
  • Robert Nyman of Google showing how he got into DevRel and what can be done to stay safe and sound on the road
  • Angel Banks and Beth Laing sharing the road to and the way to deliver an inclusive conference with their “We Rise” event as the example
  • Jessica Tremblay and Sam Richard showing how IBM scaled their developer community

In between the presentations there were breakout discussions, lightning talks and general space and time to network and share information.

As expected, the huge topics of the event were increasing diversity, running events smoothly, scaling developer outreach and measuring devrel success. Also, as expected, there were dozens of ways and ideas how to do these things with consensus and agreeable discourse.

All in all, DevRelSummit was a very well executed event and a superb networking opportunity without any commercial overhead. There was a significant lack of grandstanding and it was exciting to have a clear and open information exchange amongst people who should be in competition but know that when it comes to building communities, this is not helpful. There is a finite amount of people we want to reach doing Developer Relations. There is no point in trying to subdivide this group even further.

I want to thank everyone involved about the flawless execution and the willingness to share. Having a invite-only slack group with pre-set channels for each talk and session was incredibly helpful and means the conversations are going on right now.

Slack Channel of the event

DevRelSummit showed that when you get a dedicated group of people together who know their jobs and are willing to share that you can get an event to be highly educational without any of the drama that plights other events. We have a lot of problems to solve and many of them are very human issues. A common consensus of the event was that we have to deal with humans and relate to them. Numbers and products are good and useful, but not burning out or burning bridges even with the best of intentions are even more important.

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