Understanding the Role of Developer Relations on a Product Team

Published on 2021-08-16

Developer relations is a very fast-growing role in the USA, with over half of all such roles existing in that country alone. It is the kind of opportunity you will want to jump on, so do you know everything you need to know to take advantage of that? This article will help you understand what a career in developer relations entails and how to get started in such a role.

So read on, and find out how to improve your career by being ready to enter this fast-paced role moving forward.

What Is Developer Relations

It is very important to clarify one thing off the bat: Developer relations is not a single role. It is a mindset and a set of broad impulses that act towards supporting developers in a company.

Every company will have different methods of applying this mindset to their intra-office culture. Some of them create dedicated developer relations teams that exist only to support their developers. Others try to infuse the training and mindset of developer relations jobs into the developer team themselves.

It is often accepted that developer relations revolve around four key principles. These broad tenets tend to empower developers who follow them. They are as follows:

Awareness: This includes being knowledgeable of your own company’s products. It also revolves around spreading awareness of your organization’s objectives. Finally, a company focusing on awareness should be able to answer how their product solves their industry’s problems.

Community: Networking with other companies and individuals who are in the same industry as yourself. This principle also encourages people to get involved with events involving your industry. Doing this will maintain an organization’s place in the community and show why they deserve to involve themselves.

Education: This means to ensure that your clients or potential network understand what your product does. It also involves understanding this network and being able to respond to its demands.

Feedback: This involves communicating with current or potential clients. You should be receiving the feedback they have and reporting it back to the developer team. Any responses from the developers should also pass back to the clients in a diplomatic manner.

Developer Relations Jobs

Despite developer relations not being only one job, there are still plenty of opportunities that make use of this skillset. Many of them need similar skill sets. They include jobs in which the person has embedded as a developer or involve working only as a relations manager.

Examples of these jobs include:

Developer Advocate

This role involves assessing the current market and estimating long-term changes. Following this, the developer advocate must produce a plan to investigate the skill gap. They should know the difference between developers’ abilities and what they will need moving forward.

They will then work with developers to ensure any required training occurs. At the same time, they will promote any planned growth to external partners.

The developer advocate creates public-facing content to promote its development team. Because of this, they must have marketing experience.

Also, the ability to create communities is essential. The developer advocate builds relationships between developers and clients. They must then maintain these moving forward.

Tech Evangelist

Such a role aims to support both internal partners and external customers. They must also empower developers to create applications with the rest of their skills.

They work with product owners and the creative team to assess client needs. After this, they need to ensure the developers have the correct information to respond to these requirements.

The tech evangelist has a focus on networking, with a need to gain recognition in the industry community. They often attend conferences, events, and trade shows, promoting their own developers’ ability to get the job done. All the while they will be assessing upcoming market needs in the community.

At other times, a tech evangelist may create and present data to the public to increase awareness of the company’s products.

Product Manager

This job involves attempting to guide the developer team. A product manager works with clients, developers, and designers to ensure they communicate.

Their role is often one of facilitation, seeking to encourage progress and goal completion. Their final goal being a completed product.

What Job Training Should You Get?

Developer relations is a new skill set in the IT industry. There are very few options available for dedicated training, this means you must often find your own learning options.

Even defining exactly what “Developer relations” is can be difficult when trying to specify what you are looking for. The following are skills you can learn as part of a continuing education plan following your own formal learning:

Community Building

Acting as a community relations ambassador is a learnable skill. Many formal education programs allow you to pick up habits and knowledge to be better at this aspect of a working role.

Another option here would be to get hands-on experience. You could do so by building an online community around a specific interest.

Computer Programming

Having a strong knowledge of how to get involved with the life of a developer can work twofold. First of all, it can allow you to empathize with and understand the life of a developer, letting you communicate with them better during your job.

Second, there are plenty of embedded developer relations roles that need you to be a developer yourself during the process. These will need you to perform the role to the same level of skill as the rest of the developers while also engaging with clients or the public.

Having a strong computer programming skill will mean you can perform this task exemplarily. As a developer relation manager, you will also be able to communicate your needs in specific situations. For example, if you wish for a client to produce an API for your software to work with theirs.

Programming is a common skill to learn at many educational institutions. Also, you can learn how to do this via many online courses. Finally, once you have learned enough to show an aptitude, many vocations allow you to learn more of the advanced skills during the job.

Event Organizing

Event organizing may be a very different beast these days. This is because many presentations have become from-home digital events, but this will not always be the case. Organizing events still encompasses a large number of explicit skills that include:

  • Organizing a dedicated space
  • Finding and networking with a potential audience
  • Sending invites
  • Finding speakers
  • Booking refreshment companies

These are not the only skills needed, and organizing events needs many cross-functional skills that you will not find in other areas of a company.

Events management training exists as a set of courses that you can attend. This is not your only option, though, as other options include:

  • Hotel management
  • Catering management
  • Leisure and tourism
  • Marketing
  • Business planning

Each of the above will give you specific skills you can apply to the act of organizing events.

Public Speaking

If you plan to work with large numbers of people, you can expect to have meetings with many of them at the same time. In these situations, acting as the host of the meeting will need you to talk with confidence in public.

When public speaking skills in those situations it is imperative to ensure that you present ideas as well as possible. But at the same time, you should be encouraging others to communicate with one another.

To help with these situations, you have several formal options available to you. Although, far more opportunities exist as clubs and community events. For example, Toastmakers are a nonprofit that helps people make speeches through teaching and practice.

Another option along the same lines is presentation clubs such as Pecha Kucha events. These help people learn how to present in a way that is both informative as well as succinct.

Technical Writing

Many people think they have the ability to write, but technical writing is a specific skill that takes practice and education. You need it to ensure that you communicate both the needs and capabilities of different groups who might be working together. Failing at this will cause bottlenecks as important details are not sent between organizations.

There are several technical writing courses available online or through dedicated organizations. Google even provides its own course for free online. It can help you learn the ins and outs of technical writing before dedicating yourself to it as a skill.

Finally, some clubs can help you to learn in a more relaxed environment. For example, Write the Docs is a community of people online who focus on correct technical documentation as a hobby and interest. Here, you can get a lot of advice on how to improve this skill at home or professionally.

What Next?

You should now have a much stronger idea of how to get involved with the world of developer relations. Many tools can also help you with such a role, and we are here to provide you with one of them. If you still have questions and want to know more, you can always get in contact.

Our specialists are on hand to help answer any queries you have about what we offer. So, get in contact and we will do everything we can to help you in your future developer relations role.