The Power of influence inside software engineering

Otavio Santana

Software Engineer, Architect, and Open Source Committer at Eclipse Foundation


Usually, we only focus on the hard skill when discussing the software career path. That is a colossal mistake that several engineers, including me, have committed for a long time. In this post, I'll explain why influence is vital to your career.

The first step on this post is to ensure we're on the same page; the discussion here is not to undervalue the tech perspective. Any engineer must have experience with software engineering, architecture, code design, and so on. The point is to focus only on those aspects and forget the others.

We mainly consult communication when discussing the post-senior career path, such as a Staff Pluss Engineer. The Staff Engineer's Path Book by Tanya Relly explains how to get on the culture/organization Map, mainly the trick terrain. Also, it includes the relationship between the engineering and product teams. 

The Tanya Relly is an excellent book that contains the importance of influence, but this is not unique. There is also the Engineers Survival Guide: Advice, tactics, and Tricks, which has a chapter: influence is Everything. This book was one of the first I read about branding for a software engineer. Being visible inside and outside the organization is crucial for your career. 

I hope I got your attention to how vital visibility is for any engineering career; let's talk about how to raise your visibility inside and outside the organization. Let's start to apply it.

Increasing your visibility

When we discuss, visibility is vital to hight light that you need to be visible to both: inside your organization and outside. When your organization knows what you know and what you're doing, it becomes easier to talk about your internal progress and promotion. However, the career belongs to you and not your company; with that in mind, find ways to work on your branding outside the organization.

Sadly, some companies do not value you, and you need to be prepared to move, and when you have visibility around what you're doing, it becomes more accessible to archive a new job. In this post, we'll enumerate three options:

  • Explore the company blog: your company blog is an excellent place to share your status, share good practices, and help your colleagues in a single place. Team scalability and raising the quality bar are other points you can address using this place.

  • Be kind: Everyone enjoys an accessible and helpful person; this is not an exception in an organization. Be prepared to help other colleagues with your knowledge, and be available to help. You're not scalable; thus, define a strategy to impact the most people possible with internal workshops, articles, and mentoring other engineers.

  • Conferences: A conference is a place not only to share your knowledge and your expertise but, learn and increase your networking. There are several options for meetings, such as in-person and online. Explore both because human contact is essential, and your new contact might be your following colleagues, but online is a time-saver on conferences. Use the time to get more people in your circle. 

  • Open-Source: It is only possible to talk about the ultimate stage of sophistication in software engineering by talking about open source. Being part of big open-source projects such as Inside Eclipse and Apache Foundation can help you learn the most advantageous technique to enhance your engineering team. From open-source, you can learn from several companies to archive high-quality code, comprehensive documentation, strong collaboration, and a healthy culture. Besides this knowledge, the open-source will help to visibility; this is differential. E.g., The number of people who contribute to JVM or Java language is less than the person who works with Java. 


As software engineers, we usually talk only about the hard-skill; however, the influence matters in your career. Getting visibility inside and outside the organization is crucial. It is time to discuss more the branding and your credibility. 

There are several ways to increase this credibility, such as company posts, personal posts, conferences, open-source, and more. I hope I helped you see this perspective and move your career to the next level. 

Please, let me know your thoughts, if you're investing your time in being visible, and which methodologies you're doing.

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Otavio Santana

Software Engineer, Architect, and Open Source Committer at Eclipse Foundation

Engineering LeadershipLeadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentTechnical ExpertiseTechnical SkillsProgrammingSoftware DevelopmentCareer Growth

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