Starting a Developer Community can feel overwhelming, well, it was for me. I joined my first community in 2013 back in college, it was a small group of about thirty to fifty members and was quite an active one, active until the lead graduated and the group became a memory, but what I learned over those years volunteering in various communities (like ALC, Ingressive and GDG) and being part of their growth gave me a solid foundation of what I needed to get mine started.
Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash
If you want to develop a platform for people who are interested in technology and want to make sure everyone gets the best out of it, this is what I have to share with you. Kindly note that this might not be a 100% accurate for everyone and it's mainly based on my experience so far over time, I believe it is something to be looked out for.
So, let's get straight to it, shall we?
Here are things you should have in mind.
This is the very foundation of why you are starting it in the first place. You want to create opportunities for people to learn, collaborate, contribute to open source or even build a project around a particular technology, or maybe to provide Jobs opportunities for them. Whatever the reason could be, you need to know why you are doing this in the first place. This question set a clear path for you and help you communicate better with your community. You need a clear view of how you want things to go.
Just like Maya Angelou said - "If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going."
Knowing your audience will help you identify ways to reach them, Google, for example, has various Google Developer Groups that organise events and workshops for those interested in using their product. Let's take TensorFlow for instance, Tensor as an AI technology will have an audience centred around people who are into Machine learning or Data Science, you could even be a developer, someone into Robotics or just curious about Artificial Intelligence and wants to build a career out of it. The engagement will be a solid one since the majority of your audience have a common interest. You might not figure out completely who your audience might be but with time, getting feedback and working on that feedback will give you a clearer view of what you are dealing with.
Once you have that pretty much figured out then we can talk about what to finally look out for and how to get this community started.
You need to also consider one thing in making this work. You choose to become a superman and try doing everything yourself, I mean handling publicity, social media, emails, banners, phone calls, venues and other resources that may arise, oh wait a minute…"You mean you can do all that yourself at the same time even with your other activities? you really must be superman", even superman had a justice league and batman had a butler but hey, you could as well find out for yourself. The key part of making this work is having a strong team, a team who shares the same vision and level of passion as you do, who will take it as their own and take necessary measures in making it a success, that's the kind of team you should look out for, the success of your community also depends on your team. So find one.
Now let's talk about growth. This might not be full time but you can send frequent Newsletters to keep them updated on things centred around a common interest, it could be through an email or a community group (Slack, Telegram Whatsapp e.t.c). Have a social media platform lets people know what is happening in the community, which will also help you reach more people interested in becoming a part of it.
Key things to consider when organizing meetups
Time is a very essential value not to be taken for granted. You want to make sure you achieve the key things your meetup is set to accomplish at the time frame you provide, and of course, it's fine to give a few minutes before the event or even after but no longer than it should be. Normally it shouldn't matter if everyone is having fun, I mean learning is fun, but it can also make one lose track of time. so don't give in to that temptation. Make your meetup something to remember, it's not just what you say to them but it's mostly how you make them feel so make them feel they are in the right place, you want to impact and not let them depart.
oh, also make sure you have a hashtag on twitter to let people know what is going on at your event, after all, you want the world to know you exist right?
I know of a few platforms that let you create events for people to register, websites like Eventbrite, Meetup and Attending among many others are the major ones I know of. Take advantage of the social media as well, Twitter to Facebook, to your Whatsapp groups that's if the group admin does not mind. Be creative and that also include a not so terrible banner for people to read online, trust me I won't look twice.
Lastly, it is best to always publicize months before the actual date at least a minimum of two weeks, set a date you know people to can be available to come and also venues that can easily be located.
Want to get sponsors to support your event? I thought as much. This is the part where you hone your communication skills. There are companies looking for an audience like yours to reach out to, but it's not just as easy as that, it depends on your audience, you want to give them a win-win or they will see no reason to provide support. Imagine you set up an event for dog lovers, knowing they love dogs, only for you to reach out to sponsors making cat food. if you were that company would you want to spend your money on that? I didn't think so. Companies want to target people who can be of benefit to them. Reach out to those you think can benefit from it while you get more support for your event while making it fun for everyone at the same time, you see? Win-Win.
I hope you get to build a community people can't wait to be a part of, try to be accessible to your community and team, do that and growth will become accessible to you. Be creative, try new ways to make your community a useful one, not just for food, drinks or the swags but of value and impact.
Thanks for your attention so far 😁, kindly share to those who might need this.