Go public!

Posted 14 days ago
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Iceberg and ice formations against a colourful sky

As developers most of the actual work is done behind the scenes (or screens). This is not just for backend development, but goes for frontend development just as well. Consider all the time, effort and planning that goes into executing a technical solution or building an interface. Aligning between multiple stakeholders or comparing technical solutions and routes before implementing, goes largely unnoticed.

In most cases, what the end user sees, is just the tip of an iceberg! With "going public" I mean proudly exposing the underside of that iceberg. Not for the sake of the end user, but for your self. You should always consider contributing to your personal brand!

What to share

Depending on your goals and growth targets, consider what you would like to share. What parts of a development process stand out to you. What are you proud of? Do you have any evidence or examples to back up your achievements? Share it with the world!

Did you solve a rather nasty issue? Did your efforts increase performance, security or usability of an application? You should be proud of what you achieve!

Bu why bother?

It can be difficult to start sharing, because the internet can be intimidating (especially social media). It can be risky in many ways, so why do it?

First of all, since this can be challenging for lots of people, the fact that you're sharing already makes you stand out! It shows that you're communicative, have the ability to reflect and are working on personal growth. That's a great first introduction.

Sharing makes you stand out more, but it also makes you more visible, especially if you're working in a bit of a niche market. Positioning yourself in a visible spot makes it more likely that interesting opportunities find their way to you.

It makes you accountable for your own actions. If go public with a promise you've made, you are very likely to feel the pressure to follow through with what you promised. All of those invisible side projects? If they're hidden, why bother completing them? But the fact that someone might be keeping tabs on you, is a great motivator!

It allows you to better measure your own growth. If you look back after a year and have to think about all the individual things you've achieved, it will be difficult to remember even a quarter of them, if you're lucky. By posting and writing in public, you have a great way of circling back to all of those individual contributions!

It is a way of giving back to the community. You may have been stuck on a very nasty bug, when suddenly, one of the suggestions of Stack Overflow solves your issue! We all run into issues every now and then. Some topics might even come back to haunt you, so writing down and sharing solutions might help somebody get unstuck. Open Source your knowledge!

Having all of these benefits, how could you not start sharing your work? Finding a right shape can be difficult, especially in the beginning. Luckily, there's a good method to get you started!

How to find your right shape

One of the well known forms of documenting your contributions is the STAR method, where the acronym stands for:

  • Situation: what was the original setting, what's the context of your achievement?

  • Tasks: what was your responsibility in the context?

  • Actions: What did you do, what's your contribution to improving the situation?

  • Results: What was the effect of your personal contribution? Quantifying is great, but should not be the focus. Focus on added value.

Following this structure helps a lot in thinking about the different components. But please, for the love of sanity, do not list your achievement by literally filling in those bullet points! Please make some effort in telling an organic anecdotal story that's much more pleasant on the readers' eyes!

Many forms

Sharing your achievements can be done in various ways. Using the STAR methods is a great way of story telling and you can post stories on various platforms to build your brand. Consider what shape best contributes to your story.

Do you primarily post on your blog? Write a blog post. Are you more active in Twitter (X)? Start a thread! If you've learned a valuable insight? Maybe you can create a tutorial or video where you explain what you did.

Consider who your target audience are. Peers? Potential employers? Future you? (You wouldn't be the first to find your own blog post as a solution to a problem you're currently facing.) Shape the achievement to fit the audience!

It can be very helpful to set and track goals, to help you get into a rhythm of posting. Set up a habit tracker of starting to post a certain amount of content per week or month. The first steps are hardest, but it'll get easier over time!

Own your own achievement

With multiple platforms at your fingertips, I'd still highly recommend aggregating your content to a space that you own. Don't make yourself dependent on the visibility and success of other platforms. Personally, when I post something on an external site, I always post a copy or derivative on my personal blog with links back and forth. This blog is and always will be my own. I can leverage the easy access of platforms such as social media or publication platforms to reach an audience, but it would be a shame if any of those platforms would pull the plug and all my content was lost!

It's out there forever

If you've been working on a use case for an organization, check what (potentially sensitive) information needs to be redacted or obfuscated before you post. Keep in mind that data or context can be anonymized and still tell your story.

What has been posted on the internet, is out of your control. It can be copied, archived and reposted without you knowing. Be diligent with what you post. Ranting about a vendor, software solution or peers will inevitably come back to haunt you. Keep your private stuff private!

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