Developer Relations and community outreach can take on many forms and is a constantly evolving practice. At Mattermost, our focus is always on our community of administrators, developers, and end users.
Every member of the internal Mattermost team participates in Developer Relations. This can be as a formal member of the Community Team or as a casual participant in community activities such as discussions on the community server, discussions at external events, or other interactions with non-internal community members.
Some activities that fall under formal Developer Relations:
- Conference and meetup presentations
- Content creation and distribution
- Forum and discussion participation
Whether working in the virtual space during the pandemic or working an in-person event, there are some guidelines we need to be aware of when it comes to our interaction with current and potential users at events. These tips are a list of best practices and can be improved upon as we further our reach on events. Feedback on how to improve this list is always welcome.
One of the most difficult parts of event engagement is ensuring we have coverage for our presence, but also ensuring no one gets burned out or exhausted by a deluge of inquiries.
- One hour on, one hour off: To give everyone a chance to avoid constant bombardment, especially at in-person events, anyone staffing the booth should plan to have one hour on duty followed by one hour off. This also gives folks a chance to look into other parts of the event, consolidate notes on interactions, and unwind and refresh a bit.
- No solo heroes: There should, at no time, be a person working the booth alone. This may be unavoidable at times but we need to endeavor to avoid this situation. While someone may be amazing at entertaining multiple booth visitors, it does not indicate they won’t become overwhelmed, run out of resources, or be able to maintain that level.
Mattermosties are kind and considerate. We have a sense of humor and are generally good natured. We adhere to our internal Code of Conduct and the CoC’s of the events we are a part of. That said, there are some tips to make for a better experience when interacting with folks at events.
- Respect their time: Understand that most conversations at a booth last only a few minutes. Basic questions are addressed, like what we do, how do we compare to COMPETITOR X, and other straightforward ideas. There isn’t a need to go too deep on technical detail unless they specifically inquire about it. Most conversations will occur in 4 minutes or less. If things go deeper and they seem comfortable, continue the conversation. If it goes too deep, recommend connecting later during the conference or maybe chatting on the Mattermost community server after the event.
- No Hard Pitching: Most people understand what our goals are at an event. The chances of closing the deal, even at a large scale, enterprise event, are nearly nil. A hard press often disaffects potential clients. Especially with the tech-minded.
- Be aware of cultural differences: Occasionally there are cultural norms that change the course of conversation. Some examples include the reserved nature of many Scandinavian cultures or the brash, “we know this” nature of Americans. While no one expects you to obtain a minor in Cultural Anthropology or Sociology, be aware of certain norms from cultures outside your own.
- Assume everyone is an expert: Regardless of any outward appearance, assume everyone we interact with has been working in their field and has top-level expertise. We do not assume anyone is junior or not tech-minded for any reason. They are approaching us with some level of interest. Let’s work to keep that interest kindled.
- Event Engaged Attendee
- Virtual: Any attendee who attends a talk or visits the booth interactively. This can include volunteering their information directly or having it provided by the organizers post-event.
- In-person: Any attendee who attends a talk, offers their information at a booth or other station, interacts with any Mattermost representative with intent on further examining Mattermost. Interactions to simply look at Mattermost or to discuss philosophies of Mattermost may notbe considered "engaged" - this can be left to the respresentatives discretion.
- Any keynote, speech, presentation, demo, or workshop given at an external event (or at MatterCon).
- 1.Allocate available passes to each department - e.g. 1 Eng, 1 Product, 1 Support, 2 Sales/CS, 1 Marketing. Allocation is typically based on
- Goal of an event For example, if the main goal is to generate sales leads, we'd have a bigger sales/marketing presence. If the main goal is product or community awareness, then a bigger engineering/product presence.
- Audience For example, if the audience is mostly users (devs, etc), then we tend to bring more community, product or engineering folks. Usually aligned with the goal of an event, but not always. An example is FOSDEM where we only bring the community team and engineers.
- 2.Based on allocation, create a list of specific individuals we'd like to invite.
- Prioritize those who have expressed interested in attending events.
- Prioritize those who are geographically close (lower costs, less time and effort for folks to attend).
- Prioritize specific needs, e.g. for KubeCon, we have previously invited engineers who worked on our Kubernetes operator and Cloud platform, instead of other engineers. For security events it has been our security engineers, etc.
- 3.Once we have an invite list:
- Reach out to their manager asking if they are okay for us to pull a headcount for the event.
- If either the MLT/manager or individual says no, ask who they'd recommend instead.
- 4.Invite each person individually.