Going Outside The API Echo Chamber With Your API Services And Tooling
You ever feel like you just preach to the choir when evangelizing your API tool or service? I do. All the time! While crafting stories for the blog I am constantly burying topics that I find super interesting but realize the “normals” I’m interested in reaching just aren’t going to care. Of course, I don’t always focus on this audience but I’d say I prefer a 60% normals to 40% geek focus in my storytelling. With this in mind I’m investing some more energy in getting out of the echo chamber with my storytelling and spending more time at healthcare, financial, energy, automobile, home improvement, and other conferences catering to specific industries and verticals, rather than just hanging with my API pals at the same old events. Don’t get me wrong, I will still be showing up at some of the best API events, but I’m going to be focusing on expeditionary mission work—it is the most dangerous type of API evangelism, but in my experience it can really pay off.
When going outside of the API echo chamber to evangelize APIs you have to work hard to refine your vocabulary and keep your stories precise and compelling. One downside is that you have to tell a lot of the same stories over and over, but I guess if you aren’t that keen on creating new content, and perpetually having to reinvent yourself, this could be a positive thing. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of my storytelling within the echo chamber—it keeps my mind busy. However, reaching outside the echo chamber pushes me to refine my storytelling in ways that only speaking to “normals” can do. Also, getting the real world questions that are more closely aligned with the actual business problems we are looking to solve with APIs helps me ground my API blah blah blah in reality, and keeping it out of the stratosphere above the clouds.
Being the API tooling presence at a consumer electronics, home improvement, or insurance conference takes a different frame of mind. It will get you out of your comfort zone where everyone knows the tricks of the developer relations trade. It will force you to hone your approach a little more, and reach a little further when it comes to explaining the value you bring to the table. I mean, aren’t you getting sick of “selling” to people who already know and love your product, and just preaching to your own choir, and most likely your own competitors? If your API tools and services are so good you should be able to engage with average folks running businesses in almost any vertical. Only selling your wares to the API sector, and presenting yourself as a “thought leader” seems like a pretty sophomore move. If we want to ensure the rubber meets the road when it comes to our tools and services being put to use across the business landscape we will have to break out of our bubbles.
I find the process of researching different industries, understanding their trade organizations, and where their conferences are a learning experience all by itself. To help me think about the big picture I like to have a ready to go vocabulary at my fingertips for driving my inquiries. Having a list of industries and keywords available for search for events, data sets, data standards, APIs, and companies is essential to expanding my horizons. I enjoy expanding my horizons on a regular basis and keep this whole API evangelism game forever moving into new territory, on-boarding new users to the importance of APIs, and how they are impacting their personal and professional lives in both positive and negative ways. After nine years of doing this I just don’t feel like I’m reaching my potential if I stay in my comfort zone and listen to how my voice sounds echoing back at me in this API chamber we’ve created for ourselves.