It is interesting that many people understand the word, “Evangelist,” to have some religious connection to it. That would be true, as I can attest to this first-hand, since my formative years were spent in a Pastor-Evangelist family. This led me later in my life to pursue a “Theology” degree where I was given additional exposure as to how an Evangelist communicates, listens, teaches, preaches, and relates in such a way as to inspire and influence the audience or Community.
The word, Ευαγγελιστής, actually originated in ancient Greece prior to biblical times, where it was understood to mean a “reward given to a messenger for good news” or “bringer of good news.” Therefore, I can conclude the way “Evangelist” is used in the phrase “Technology Evangelist,” as laden with many values or connotations that I believe are necessary to bring about many positive benefits and results to a company wanting to educate its community.
Another common belief that I have heard is that a Tech Evangelist is just someone in marketing. In my opinion for a Tech Evangelist to become a trusted advocate, he/she needs to have one foot in engineering and the other foot in marketing. This helps build a bridge where a deeper technical understanding of a product and/or service can properly be disseminated to the general public. However, this isn’t the only place where a Tech Evangelist roams. It’s common to see a Tech Evangelist support the goals and visioning found in Corporate, Support, Sales, Engineering, and Marketing departments. It’s important to understand and interface with each area and apply learning’s where the most help can be provided. I like “floater” as a term in which a good Evangelist is gifted with listening skills to internally and externally both gain and craft creative content, so as to tell the story most effectively. To be most successful, I believe that a Tech Evangelist needs to work in an organization, hierarchy, or department, that allows for flexibility of thought and experimentation, so as to test the best new ways to communicate the content or message.
I love the lofty Wikipedia definition of a Tech Evangelist:
“A technology evangelist is a person who builds a critical mass of support for a given technology, and then establishes it as a technical standard in a market that is subject to network effects.”
I also believe the core part of the role of a Tech Evangelist is not just educating or communicating to the public, customers, or clients, about a particular technology, but about building an army of believers. One person cannot have a big impact in building critical mass in the industry without an army of supporters all passionately preaching the same message. This is one reason why I think one typically observes startups hiring a Tech Evangelist, or even a large corporation hiring a Tech Evangelist to focus on one product or service in a myriad of products or features.
Types of Activities
There are many activities that a Tech Evangelist would be involved with; in fact others perform some of the same activities with different titles. The key is to explain how some form of tech works and why it matters rather than just describing a given feature. Below are just a few examples.
- Speak at technical conferences
- Manage an external technical awards programs
- Produce technical blog posts
- Produce technical informative white papers
- Lead social media engagements
- Participate in the industry community
- Company ambassador at technical events
- Liaison between engineering and external technical experts
- Drive internal awareness and conversation
In order to do some of these things well, I think there are several important qualities that someone needs to obtain or naturally possess. This by no means is an exhaustive list below:
- Informed about the industry and community around them
- Passionate about what they are doing
- Authentic & Humble about what they communicate
- Listening skills to focus on priorities
- Speaking & Communication skills to capture the essence of an exposition
If I missed any important areas that you think would add to this list, please feel free to comment or contact me.
I am listing below in alphabetic order other noted Tech Evangelists who are focused in the Virtualization or Storage industry: If I have missed someone please let me know. I will add them to the list.
Update: Since many of you have sent me names to include, I have decided to create a Google Sheet. This sheet will list those that hold the "Tech Evangelist" title and those that don't hold the title but have been nominated and/or conduct activities of a Tech Evangelist in the community. If you find any errors, please let me know, I pulled details from Twitter and LinkedIN. Click Here...