A while back I wrote about developer communities. The series consists of these posts:
This post covers feedback to developer communities from the business community.
I see the interaction between developer communities and the business community as a lifecycle. The developer community participates in the lifecycle by adding business value, in the form of education and skills, to the community members. The business community participates in the lifecycle by sponsoring the developer community.
The business community can measure the impact of its sponsorship dollars pretty easily: How many people are "touched" by the presentation? Sponsorship partners in the Richmond VA Developer Community tell me the ROI is real and beneficial for them: the recruiting firms tell me they can earn the cost of a Platinum Sponsorship from placing a single developer in a contract lasting from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the nature of the gig. The rest of the money earned from placing that developer - and all the other developers "touched" by the recruiting firm's participation in the developer community - is profit.
So how does the developer community get feedback? I ask for it. (filed under: Duh!) I find surveys impersonal and somewhat cardboard. So I send individual emails. Yes, I copy and paste the content to make sure the responses are to the same questions, but I send individual and personalized emails. You can do this with a dozen or so sponsors. It's not hard. Trust me.
- Which Richmond Developer Community meeting / event was your favorite of all time? Of last year?
- What can we do to make sure the right people - the people who need us most - are hearing about our meetings / events?
- What can I (Andy) do better? What should I never do again?
- Do you have any suggestions about how we can improve our value to members? To you?
To remain effective - to sustain your developer community - you need to constantly improve. That may mean more meetings, it may mean more structure to your meeting times and locations. Your business partners / sponsors know a thing or two about providing value to your community. Why not ask them what they think?
You don't have to do everything they suggest, but I guarantee you will learn something you didn't know if you email them and ask those questions. Plus, you'll demonstrate your commitment to participating in the lifecycle with them. Try it!