Thursday, April 24, 2014

Five things your company should do with developer communities (but probably doesn't)

Being a long-time developer community manager (Google Developer Groups) I'm often struck with how little companies care how they interact with the programming community, especially when it comes to sourcing and recruitment activities.

Most companies today are becoming more and more dependent on recruiting good developers, yet the way they communicate with the developer community remains very last-century.

In essence, if you're letting your HR department or an external recruitment agency be the first point of contact with developers, chances are you're scaring away a good deal of them, who might have fit and thrived inside your company. You're essentially paying to become isolated from the very community you're increasingly becoming dependent upon.

If you think this is a bad thing, here are my five top tips on how to interact with a developer community (I hope they will seem obvious after you've read them):

1. Do proper research on which developer communities exists in the towns where you have offices ( is a great tool here), see which fit best with the technical skills you have the need for and consider asking your developers to create a new group if none exists.

2. Create incentives for your developers to a) talk at developer community events, b) host such events at your offices. This can be anything from perks to paid overtime.

3. Host at least one Hackathon each quarter in your offices. Make sure this is entirely planned and communicated by your developers.

4. Have your developers identify interesting / famous external developers who can be invited as speakers and let the developers invite as many people as can fit. This can be done perhaps once every quarter as well.

5. Create or host a developer game, where your developers interact with, evaluate and gets to know all other attending developers as part of the game mechanic. One great example is (full disclosure alert :) my own Escape from /dev/null series of events.

If you do all these things - good for you! If not, know that many companies do and that they will get ahead of you in getting to know the best and the brightest developers.

All of these things are related to developer branding, could be argued to be developer branding, but the more important thing is that they make your developers meet and interact with other developers. Everything else is details.

You can have the best workplace in the world, but if you don't get the word out on a personal developer level, no one will know.