Dev-XP-Session on Marketing Yourself

Chat session for developers, designers and technology enthusiasts on distinguishing and making a mark for themselves.

Pamela Corbin-Audoux and Lee Dohm


Hello Everyone,

It's that time again for another amazing #dev-xp-sessions

This time we have two amazing guests joining us, @PseudoPam and @lee-dohm from GitHub. @lee-dohm has been here before so I'm sure most of us are already familiar with him πŸ™‚

So quick introductions, Pamela @PseudoPam is the Marketing Manager, South EMEA at GitHub and @lee-dohm is the Open Source Community Manager also at GitHub

To proceed I'd let you guys properly introduce yourselves so you can do better justice to it. @PseudoPam @lee-dohm

That was quite a good introduction actually, thanks! I'm just going to add that I've been at GitHub for 15 months leading the marketing initiatives in France, Spain, Italy, North Africa & the Middle East. I've have worked at a few other tech companies before but I am a non technical person, but I have been involved in recruiting devs before to see if they were a good fit for culture, team spirit, etc.

Hello! I'm Lee Dohm and the Open Source Community Manager at GitHub. I've been working at GitHub for about two and a half years now. Before becoming a professional Community Manager, I was a software developer for over twenty years, working at such companies as Intel, Microsoft, and Amazon. Marketing oneself as a developer is challenging and ever-changing, but I hope to share some ideas that I've had over the years and I'm excited to hear your questions πŸ‘πŸ½

Lets get down to business πŸ˜„

From your experience, at what point does a techie have to start thinking seriously about their brand or marketing themselves?

I'd say from the start of your career, but I'm a marketer πŸ€·πŸ½β€

It depends on what your goal is. The more high profile you set your sights, the more seriously you need to need to think about these things. But yes, @PseudoPam is correct, you should be thinking about it right at the beginning.

What are the recommended first steps in that case? @PseudoPam @lee-dohm Especially when starting out. How do I find my identity or know that yes, this is the brand I want to portray?

I believe that the brand starts with you. It is a good way to reflect on what you want to do with your professional life, what you've done, where you want to go next. You need to be happy with what you are doing and only then will you be able to present something you are comfortable with to your peers, recruiters, and to the world.

Your brand is the easy part. Your brand is "you". Highlight your accomplishments and show how you've learned from and improved upon your missteps. Then what you have to do is get your message "out there". Whether that's a blog, your GitHub (or other code hosting site) profile, some public project that you can point to, or other contributions you've made. Just remember that if it's public on the Internet, it's forever.

I'd ask myself a few questions:
- How does my GitHub account look? how does my contribution graph look?
- Am I following projects that are important in my field?
- How completed are your online profiles in general?
- Do you post/like things? Are you in any groups/meetups/communities? Have people recommended you or your skills?
- Would I hire myself form what I see when I google my name?

I mean that mostly in the sense of your speech rather than code. Everyone knows that code has bugs and sometimes is sloppy. It's better to have working code that you can point to (even if it isn't the best) than not to. But what you say and how you say it on the Internet should be classy at all times.

Personal story: it's a bit of a "cobbler's children go barefoot" case.
I used to think that my work, my achievements would speak for themselves.
I was so, so wrong - I'm a marketer, getting the word out is what I do for a living.

By the way, feel free to take a look at my GitHub profile and repositories . There's a lot of them and I've had people be impressed by how "prolific" I am, even though the majority of them are nothing special at all.

I would never put myself out there, until someone told me: would you hire yourself based on your online resume?

I'm afraid you have to market your own victories, achievements, work if you want people to pay attention.
You must stay humble, be fact driven, and not just gloat, but you definitely have to be your own publicist.

Personally, that's one of the great things about a blog ... you get to author your own victory speech

and do the same for other people whose work you admire

One of the awesome things about working in tech is that the "celebrities" are so approachable. Because one can be famous in tech but not in the greater world, you may come up to one of them all in awe and the object of your interest in genuinely surprised.

So definitely take the time to, respectfully, introduce yourself and see if they have time for questions about what they're passionate about.

What are some of the actionable you'd recommend, or platforms to take advantage of when trying to market yourself better? @PseudoPam @lee-dohm

take advantage of one of the blog platforms out there, whether that's GitHub Pages (like I use ).

One of my good friends @benbalter has said, that if you get asked a question three times, write a blog post to document the answer.
I also believe in documenting things that you find especially hard to figure out ... such as this.

I'd say: GitHub, StackOverflow, LinkedIn (even if I know some devs are a bit reluctant to get on there, it's a great way to put your name on the map), Twitter...
I'd also use GitHub Pages for blog posts, Medium can be good too.

StackOverflow is a good one too ... especially if you find yourself interested in a new technology that doesn't have a lot of people answering questions already.

I've tried contributing on stack overflow, but I got quite the back lash, and most questions seem a bit complex, any suggestions to contributing on stack overflow?

I would suggest to keep trying, take the moderators' suggestions to heart ... try to find tags that are less busy so you have more time to compose responses. Or just answer questions for yourself and don't post the answer to build up your knowledge base until you feel more comfortable with things.

Also, cross-link all the things ... my GitHub profile points to my blog, my blog points to my GitHub, StackOverflow, and Twitter profiles ... etc

LinkedIn is a good way to get on the map, I agree. But be judicious in how you connect yourself.

I sometimes feel Linkedin is overrated for Developers, as to the amount of exposure it really gives.

Developers are a dime a dozen on LinkedIn ... but you'll find that there are specific _types_ of developers that get contacted a lot. Software testers is one of those categories. Anything to do with machine learning. That kind of thing.

I understand what you mean @stack1, and I believe you need to be specific in the way you build your profile in order to attract the right type of people/opportunities. Loads of devs out there, it's your job to make your profile stand out by the content you post, the things you πŸ‘πŸ½ or comment on, the tags you add to your resume... It requires a lot of fine tuning, but a lot of devs that I know got into senior/management positions thanks to a better curated LinkedIn profile. Not just the cool kids 😜

Also, Quality over quantity in core for LinkedIn.

Agreed: the people you connect to is also an important factor in the way people judge your online persona. It also never hurts to show that you're helping the community, contributing, liking stuff that you find interesting.

Would you recommend being strict with connections on LinkedIn? it more quality? @PseudoPam @lee-dohm to make

Yes, I would definitely recommend that. The last thing you want is for someone to contact one of your connections about you and for them to reply with, "Who again?"

Also, branding doesn't stop online, folks. You need to make sure you can show how amazing it would be to work with you in an interview.

Again, put yourself in the recruiter's shoes. Would you want to work with yourself?

Interviews can be very stressful, but you need to show your personality.
Don't pretend to be someone you're not.

Try to have fun with it ... if you're having fun with it, then in my experience, you're more likely to make a good impression

Of course, some interviewers just aren't fun and there isn't a lot you can do about that. But then that may not be the kind of place you want to work anyway

I understand that sometimes one just needs a job to pay the bills and put food on their plate, and you might need to downplay some aspects of your personality, but in the end, these jobs don't make you really happy. If you tell who you are from the get go and let it shine, and you get hired for this too, then, chances are you'll feel better at work. It can make a whole difference, believe me.

So very, very true ... beating your head against a wall is never a good look

I recommend interviewing for one job a year even if you don't intend to leave your current job, so that you keep your interviewing skills fresh and learn any new styles of interviews that people develop in the intervening time.

Haha... The time flew by so fast.
Can't believe we've gotten to the end of this amazing chat.
Thank you so much for joining us @PseudoPam @lee-dohm . We'd definitely work on the gems you've shared with us today. Thanks everyone for joining us.

Other tips that were useful to people I know (whether developers or not):
- Make sure you know what your skills, strengths are ask yourself and the people who know you (teachers, other students, former employers, friends…) to help you list that.
- Understand what separates you from your competition that means hard skills and soft skills
- Let people know if you have owned some skills on your own. I know some peeps don't like to say they are self-trained, but I'm a strong believer in people who can pick up a skill by emulation, or working on their own. It's a priceless quality. it shows you want to learn and evolve and take your life into your own hands

Asking others for honest feedback is a great way to get a clearer picture of your talents. I know I tend to underestimate myself.

it's great for people who underestimate themselves and those who overestimate themselves too. Bit of a reality check, really.

Hi guys, we have come to the end of this wonderful session.

We are grateful to @PseudoPam @lee-dohm for taking out time to be part of us today!

Thanks everyone for a wonderful session!! Until next time! Do have a wonderful day! πŸ˜ƒ

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