Come with me if you want to build cool things

DevRel is about scaling trust.

A series

You and me, we do DevRel. Let’s take a moment and be blunt.

DevRel is, for me, about building—and scaling—trust. Trust and awareness. Trust and awareness and a business case for international travel. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s talk about trust.

Look — if we want our products to be no-brainers for people to choose (and who doesn’t?), we have an enormous task ahead of us, one of building trust. Without trust, not using our product is the easy decision. To make using it an automatic choice requires intense, widespread trust.

We want developers to automatically turn to our product or tool. We need them — perhaps all of them — to believe in the value of our tool implicitly, which means trusting us, the people behind the tool, implicitly.

That’s tough.

I’m going to talk about tools for building trust, and (more importantly) for scaling trust. There’s little here that might surprise you, when I start talking about, I dunno, giving talks, and talking to people. What I aim to do here is to put everything we do in DevRel into a coherent and interesting framework, something that makes sense of our jobs, and that maybe can help us understand ways to advance our craft. A framework that emphasizes trust, and giving our product a human face.


Working definition: Trust is a human thing, a feature of human relationships. One cannot trust things, only people, (although one can believe claims about things of course).

Hypothesis: Trust is built through developing close personal relationships.

Immediate conclusion: Holy shit, this is gonna be a lot of hard work.

Let’s take a simple example. Imagine: You stumble across an article randomly. Said article makes a bold, perhaps controversial, even outrageous claim. Chances are you’ll dismiss it out of hand. Now imagine: A close friend shares the same article with you. Some of the trust you place in your friend makes you more likely to believe the article. You transfer a small amount of the trust you place in your friend into the article’s author.

This is precisely what we do with DevRel: We set out to form bonds of trust with developers, and we do it not to drive leads through the sales funnel, but to create warm fuzzy feelings in developers so that ultimately they can’t not imagine using our tool — and recommending it to those decision makers who are in the sales funnel. We create the conditions for strangers to build trust in our product team, and belief in our product.

So, we in DevRel are chasing trust, real genuine trust built on meaningful personal relationships…at scale.

By their very nature, personal relationships cannot scale. So how do we make this work, and how do we measure it? DevRel has a lot of arrows in its quiver. Over the following series of articles, let’s examine how they work together to bring about trust at scale, and maybe we can figure out how to do our jobs just a little bit more effectively.

Up next, we’ll take a look at that most basic of DevRel activities…yes, networking. (Ugh.)


Who am I? Hi! I’m D.E. Goodman-Wilson, and I’m the head of developer relations at Sqreen. We give your web application the ability to defend itself against attacks. You should try it out.

[Note: this was originally a much longer article — too long, in fact! — that I have broken down into a series of shorter articles, because who knew? people can’t digest that much all at once. 😵]