I’ve been talking to a number of small, technology focused companies about developer outreach. Many are beginning to realize that they need staff dedicated to marketing and developer outreach, but they aren’t sure where to start in terms of finding someone to do this type of work. It’s a challenging role to hire for, as you need someone with a skill set at the intersection of technology and marketing. In addition to profiling a few of my colleagues in the space, I thought I’d provide some insight into places that companies can explore to find candidates for these roles.
Look at your community
Leaders naturally emerge in technical communities. The people within your community who are excited about your technology, who are answering questions on the forum and in IRC, and who are organizing local meetups are the ones that are likely to be effective in a developer evangelism or community management role. And if there isn’t anyone engaged with your product at that level, consider looking at similar communities.
Nathen Harvey strikes me as an excellent example of this approach. While web ops manager at CustomInk, he organized the DC MongoDB and DevOps meetups. As he became more involved in the community, specifically around evangelism of Chef, it was no surprise when OpsCode hired him as their community manager.
Look at your existing staff
Sometimes it’s helpful to look within the company to see if there is someone on the staff that might be well-suited for an evangelism role. There are some engineers that naturally gravitate towards community outreach, but may not realize that this type of position can be a career path for them. Look at the team and see who enjoys interacting with the open source community, attending meetups, and speaking at conferences already.
Some developers may be apprehensive about giving up their engineering responsibilities in order to focus on marketing. In approaching them about a change in their role, I recommend sharing these great blog posts from developer evangelists that I respect tremendously:
- What A Hacker Learns After A Year In Marketing – Rob Spectre of Twilio
- Being a Developer Evangelist – The business of exciting people – Amit Jotwani of Mashery
- A Day in the Life of a Developer Evangelist – an article in The Next Web profiling Rob Spectre (Twilio), Akshay Patil (foursquare), Michael Schonfeld (Dwolla)
Another approach is to find someone who’s just done it before. There are more technology companies than ever employing engineers in technical evangelism roles. Think about the companies that do amazing work with developer outreach, and find out who is behind that. Participate in events like Community Leadership Summit, local user groups, and technical conferences where technical leaders congregate.
I’m not aware of many lists or job boards for these types of roles, but here are a few places to start:
- Online Community Jobs – Sue on the Web’s job board and mailing list
- #cmgrchat - hashtag on Twitter for community managers
- Local meetups such as NYC Developer Evangelists or San Francisco Community Manager Breakfast
If you have other suggestions, please post in the comments section!