A Day in the Life of a Kentico Technical Evangelist
Technical Evangelist is a pretty unique title. Depending on who you ask, it may have several different definitions. For some, it’s all about blogs and forums, spreading information out to the masses. For others, it’s about growing a community and stimulating innovation. In this article, I wanted to give you a glimpse into this role within Kentico and let you know how I spend my time most days.
When I started with Kentico over a year ago, I had a mission: I wanted to grow the Kentico developer community and bring some great information to people. Having worked with the platform for over seven years, I had done a fair share of customizations and implementations, some of which were routine while others were something you couldn’t dream up. Combine those experiences with a love for talking with developers (perhaps not a shock to anyone that’s attended a Kentico Connection) and you can see how the Evangelist role fits me perfectly. Well, I can tell you I love doing it and enjoy connecting with a community that talks about and works with Kentico.
So what exactly do I do every day?
One of the most visible and talked-about parts of my role is producing technical content about Kentico. Often aimed at tackling a difficult or unique issue, blogging is a key part of Technical Evangelism and one that I enjoy immensely. I’ve always had a knack for writing and can usually produce a blog within a few hours. Luckily, we have a great team of copywriters to fix my MANY grammar issues and help me with all my articles. Through these blogs, I look to empower the development community, inform you of exciting changes to the platform and industry, and maybe show you a few things you didn’t know were possible with the platform.
I set a goal for myself to produce at least one blog a week, a standard I’ve been able to maintain for over a year now. During that time, I’ve blogged on all areas of the platform. Some of my favorites were my Azure-focused articles (shocking, I know) as well as some POCs I’ve created. A lot of people ask me how I come up with topics, and the answer is surprisingly simple: most come from people asking me questions. As a Technical Evangelist, I get to the opportunity to connect with a lot of people and, inevitably, they have a challenge or issue they are dealing with. I figure if they are facing those challenges, chances are others are as well — and those can make for some great blog topics.
I usually have two to three blogs staged at a time. That means I have already written the blog, created all the images, demos, etc. for it, and sent it through our copywriting process. Also, I usually have four to five other blogs sitting in some development stage. Some of these are rough drafts with a bit of content, some are an outline of an idea, and some are only a title or an idea. I try to stay ahead of the trends in the industry as much as I can and focus my articles on relevant topics that I know developers are dealing with. It’s really all about producing content the community wants to know about and will help them in their daily development.
In case you were wondering, I will have published 72 blogs by the time this one has been published.
Ah, presentations — possibly my favorite part of the job. As an extroverted kind of guy (no really, I am), I love speaking and delivering presentations to crowds. Whether it’s technical or not, I thrive on public speaking and embrace every opportunity I can do so. I’ve been presenting for nearly a decade now, and over that time I’ve seen it all. From the Internet crashing to hard drives failing, I’ve dealt with nearly every type of issue you can think of. But to tell you the truth, I actually like it when that happens. I learned a long time ago the secret to a good presentation is just being yourself. Everyone has a unique story about how they got to where they are. I try to work in as much of my personality and experiences every time I’m in front of a crowd.
When it comes to my typical activities, I average one to two presentations a month. Sometimes they are virtual, but often they are in-person events. While the virtual ones are good, I much more enjoy the direct interaction with the crowd and the ability to connect with people. I tend to speak at conferences, user groups, MeetUps, and any other type of event I can. With so many speaking engagements, I’m often working on my presentations or even more likely working on my demo environment for it. Some of them require a few days of setup and configuration, so that can easily fill a day right there. When I can, I’ll reuse a presentation a few times to get the most out of it.
My topics can range from very Kentico-focused topics to general technology. If I am presenting on a non-Kentico topic, I always find a way to work it into the demonstration. Given that my crowd is usually technical, there’s a very fine line between presenting good content and selling your product. Developers are notoriously cynical against a pure product-focused sales pitch, so it’s always a challenge to showcase Kentico while still delivering useful information. I use things like our MVC demo project and the Cloud to show off the product’s capabilities while keeping the “snake oil talk” to a minimum.
Another big part of the role is managing the Kentico technical webinars. As the Technical Evangelist, it’s my job to make sure we deliver beneficial technical webinars on a regular basis (currently once a month) to the community. I work closely with our Partner Managers, Consultants, Support Reps, as well as our Product Management Team to come up with topics and speakers. We strive to address the most critical needs of the community and cover a wide range of topics so everyone can get value from them.
As the host, I’m involved in every technical webinar we produce. That means that I am in charge of scheduling, confirming the topic and speaker, handling intros and outros to the presentation, and responding to any questions during the webinar. If I am the speaker, I do all those things as well as actually present the content. It’s a bit of a dance I do each time, but I like the challenge, and it’s always fun to see just how many plates I can spin at once. I try to answer everyone’s question if I can, and we follow up with the ones we don’t get to.
Because we take pride in our webinars and want them to be as helpful as possible, a lot of preparation goes into their production. On any given day, I may be working with a speaker on their topic and agenda, preparing my presentation if I’m presenting, or working with our internal teams to determine a future topic. During each webinar, I also control the recording of the session for people to watch later. Sometimes this involves a little video editing after it’s completed to make sure things sound as good as possible.
In case you missed any of them, you can find all our technical webinars on the Kentico YouTube channel here.
An additional part of the Technical Evangelist role is managing the Kentico MVP Program. Our MVPs are busy folks, and keeping track of all their activity is nearly a full-time job. They produce technical and business-focused blogs, present at industry events, make helpful videos, and respond to a whole lot of DevNet posts. Also, they commonly provide us with important feedback on certain areas of the product and how it fits into their development process. All of this activity requires a lot of communication, and it pretty much all flows through me.
We use Slack for all the MVPs and every day discuss all sorts of Kentico-related topics. Sometimes I ask them a question about a specific module or feature to get their feedback. Sometimes they ask the rest of the group and me a question to work through an issue. And sometimes we are just trying to see who can come up with the funniest GIPHY video. Like I said, it’s a lot of essential communication.
While I manage the current MVPs, I also spend a lot of time researching new MVP candidates. We have so many great developers in the community that do a lot of awesome things to help promote Kentico and assist others. Every day I read blogs, view posts, and research potential MVP nominees to be sure we recognize them when we can. That means I watch a lot of blogs, Twitter accounts, and other activity to try to find the next member of the club.
If you thought all of that was enough to fill my day, you’d be right. But that doesn’t stop me from doing a number of other activities within the community. Here is a list of other things I may do on any given day to help spread the news on the awesomeness that is Kentico:
- DevNet Q&As
- Twitter posts
- Developer Newsletters
- Technical Evangelism Recap blogs (for internal Kentico staff)
- Industry videos and interviews
- Third-party blogs
- Partner visits
- Discussing new technologies with Kentico R&D
What’s the Best Way You Can Benefit?
While I love doing everything I’ve written above, it’s really all about you and the rest of the community. Kentico has a Technical Evangelist to help our network of developers and promote the brand. I hope that at least some of the activities I do will benefit your development with Kentico. If not, we need to do better! I want to be effective as possible, so feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do what I can.
Getting to work as a Kentico Technical Evangelist is really a job I’ve dreamed about for a long time. It allows me to work with the product, create some cool demos and POCs, write a LOT of blogs, and, most importantly, connect with other developers. I hope this blog provides you a glimpse into what I do within the community and maybe even lets you know about some things you didn’t know. And if there is something else you’d like to see, I’d love to hear about it below. Good luck!