4 mins

What impact can you have on your engineering community?

April 13 – June 22, 2021 Event series
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Tell your team: LeadDev Together is back!

A six part event series addressing engineering leadership's most fundamental challenges.

Why do we hold community events?

Firstly, I would define a community as a safe place where members of a particular ecosystem can gather and openly discuss common interests, share problems, and share solutions.

Events are put together to help you and I connect and share knowledge. As engineers, we make better technical decisions when we talk to others in our field as engineers/designers etc. 

There are different levels to getting involved with these events; from being an attendee to helping run one. The question is, which level suits you best?

Four levels of community involvement

Level 1: Sharing an event 

There are several ways you can help promote an event: retweeting, sharing announcements, creating personal posts, discussing how the event is going, and also how successful it was. For example, while at an event, you could head over to Twitter and tweet about the sessions going on. You could include photos of you or the speaker, and use the event’s hashtag. This is a great way to share and support the vision of the organizers.

Level 2: Attending conferences or meetups

You can be part of a community just by consistently attending organized events within your ecosystem. By attending, you are making a valued contribution to your community.

Level 3: Collaboration

Almost every developer community out there owns some open source projects on GitHub. In your free time, you navigating to their GitHub organization and contributing code, design, or improving the documentation, is another brilliant way to get involved.

Level 4: Supporting the organization

At some point, a community event will hopefully grow to the point where it would need a more hands-on leadership team. As an active member of the community, it would always be worth asking if you could help in some way towards the organization of the event.

Getting started

How do I find a community?

Finding a community that you fit into should be easy (when there isn’t an ongoing pandemic). You can easily find a community in your area by searching Meetup, Facebook, Google, or Eventbrite.

How do I build a community?

If you can’t find a suitable community in your area, and you feel there are a lot of people in that ecosystem, make one! All you need to start a community is a drive for why exactly you want to put together a group of people. If you are lacking in experience when it comes to event organization, you can look for a mentor. I am always happy to help, so please feel free to message me on Twitter @developerayo.

Steps to building an event

  • Write down your setup goals – what do you want to achieve from this event?
  • Put together a team (optional).
  • Pick a meetup/conference theme.
  • Set a date and location.
  • Create a budget and find a source for sponsorship.
  • Find amazing speakers within your network.
  • Promote the event: get your community excited and registering!
  • Plan the logistics for the speakers and attendees.
  • Always get feedback after every event.
  • Send out a thank you email.
  • Analyze what went well and what went wrong.

Do not start a new event if there is already one existing in your area; you want to own something! Instead, collaborate with the existing event that could eventually scale faster and bigger.

How does open source work within a community?

Open source to me is free software built by the community for the community.  Improvements should be shared across different technical talents in a community, and you should be able to find ongoing projects within that group. Contribute via any skill you have: code, design, docs, etc. This can be done on the GitHub organization of your community.

How do I contribute my ideas as a member of a community?

Every community usually has people who are called ‘the leads’ and ‘the co-leads’. These folks run the group day-to-day and make events happen. If you have a unique idea for an event, the website, or anything in general, the first thing to do is to reach out to the lead organizers and share your ideas with them. 

The power of social media

If you are going to become a community member who puts together events, you must learn to use social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. These are important resources for promotion and for engaging with others in your community.  When it comes to the continued growth of a community, long-term communication is key. For this, channels such as Slack, Discord, specific Facebook groups, or email newsletters are better suited than general social media.

Conclusion

I can’t wait to see the amazing communities that we are going to build around the world, and I hope this article helps you get involved. Additionally, a lot of individuals have even gotten job offers just by contributing to the growth of their local community. Personally, I have received contract works to build structures of DevRel departments in companies across the world from being involved in events. Contributing to your local community is a really worthwhile endeavor and I’m sure you will do great things in your area. Good luck with your new adventure!