Somewhere between sales and marketing, there is a need for a software company or organization to promote its product to other developers and users in a way that generates enthusiasm and adoption.
This is where the developer advocate comes in. With a broad mission to introduce the tool to potential users, and show new ways to use the tool to experienced users, a developer advocate is a technical expert whose job is to interact with the community through conference speeches, virtual meetups and even in-person training in order to spread product enthusiasm to internal and external users alike.
What is a developer advocate?
If you're working in developer relations as a developer advocate or evangelist, you're an engineer at heart. You probably love to write code and work with the latest technologies. You're a tech enthusiast. Most of all, you love teaching technology to the people who need to learn it.
Ideally, you should enjoy the technology that you advocate for. You're not a salesperson, remember, but an advocate. When you genuinely have a passion for a tool, technology or software, the ability to share that enthusiasm will come naturally.
What makes a good developer advocate?
If you're thinking about making the change from an engineer role to an advocate, you should keep a few important things in mind.
First, you're not a marketer. You're going to be talking to hands-on developers and engineers, so you need to be able to speak their language. They don't want to hear about the high-level stuff that they can read from an online marketing page. They want to hear about the details on the technology and how it can transform the business.
Second, your technology skills need to stay relevant. If you're an advocate for a company that's making API integration easier, you should be ready to code up examples of that API integration. You need to stay hands-on with the platform you're working with. Never let your engineering skills fade.
Third, you need to enjoy working with people. This requires you to communicate with others and to help them. If what you like to do is code behind closed doors and not talk to anyone, developer advocacy won't be for you.
Finally, you need to enjoy public speaking. A lot of developer advocates will go on stage and talk about tech, join podcasts or participate in virtual events. You'll most likely need to create and present PowerPoint decks, talking points and demos.
Developer advocate and evangelist demand
Developer advocates and evangelist roles are in high demand. Organizations that create a lot of software are looking for ways to deliver their products in a digestible, technical format that isn't market-focused or sales-focused. Ultimately, this need has created these developer relations roles.
If you enjoy helping others, working with people and staying technical, this advocate role may be an appealing job for you.