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Balancing Virtual API Evangelism With In-Person API Evangelism

I haven’t published any stories this week on API Evangelist. I’ve been on the road in Lyon and Paris, France. Giving talks, and conducting workshops about my API lifecycle and governance work. Often times when I go on the road I try to pre-populate the blog with stories, but I’ve been so busy lately with travel and projects that I just didn’t have the time. Resulting in the blog not resembling its usual stream of API rants and stories. While this bothers me, I understand the balance between virtual API evangelism and the need to be present in-person from time to time.

While I feel like I can reach more people virtually, I feel like at least 30% of the time I should be present in-person. It helps re-enforce what I know, and allows me to evolve my work, and learn knew things by exercising my API knowledge on the ground in the trenches within existing organizations, and at conferences, Meetups, and workshops. While exhausting, and often costly, in-person gatherings help build relationships, allowing me to establish deeper connections with people. Helping my work penetrate the thick bubbles that exist around us in our personal and professional lives. I’m always exhausted after traveling and shaking so many hands, but ultimately it is worth it if I do it in a thoughtful and logical way.

In-person experiences are valuable, but I still feel that consistent, smart, and a syndicated virtual experience can reach more people, and make a more significant impact. It costs a lot less that traveling and attending conferences too. A robust presence isn’t easy to setup, and takes time to establish, but once in motion it can be the most effective way to build an audience. After eight years of doing API Evangelist, with some of it exclusively operating on the road, I can say that the sustained virtual presence will have the biggest impact, and provide a much more evergreen exposure that will keep on producing results even when you aren’t working. I can take a week off like I just did, and my traffic numbers keep growing, as long as I do not take too much time off, and neglect my work for more than a week or two–even when I took 3 months off a while back, my numbers and presence wasn’t damaged to badly.

In the end, it is all a balance. After a road trip I’m always happy to be home, and feel like I want to say no to other invitations. I feel like I could do so much more if I just had interrupted time at home doing the work I feel matters. While this is true to some degree, I definitely grow and learn a lot by talking with people at companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies, as well as connecting at the right conferences and Meetups. It is a balance I have to assess from month to month, and have to put serious thought into which events and in-person engagements will make a difference. It is something I don’t think there is a perfect formula for, and is something that evolves, flows, and sometimes dries up depending on the season. It is something I just have to keep trusting my gut, while also forcing myself out of my comfort zone as much as I can possibly handle.