Fleet networking - why, where, and who you should be networking
Source: Utilimarc Working in the fleet industry can feel slightly isolating. Your work is vital to the success of the company you work for, yet few in the “business world” truly understand the demands, pressures and concerns of a fleet manager. That is why networking can be so invaluable. Not only does networking give you the chance to talk to others who understand what it is you do and the challenges you face, but it also allows you to glean insight into changes and tactics that others are using to effectively run their fleets. Here are some ways that leaders in the fleet industry can network to make themselves more effective and better connected.
Benefits of Networking
Why should you spend time networking with other fleet professionals? Why can’t you simply sit back and manage your own fleet, without concerning yourself with what others in the industry are doing?
Networking can give you deep insights into the fleet solutions that others are using to better manage their fleets. Instead of spending money on fleet consulting services or trying to analyze the data in fleet analytics surveys to pull workable information from, you can learn from those who are in the field, actively working with vehicles, drivers and their management team, to see what is working and what is not. Networking can also help you glean some fleet best practices to apply to your own fleet from those who have tried the actions and know they work. As an added bonus, your professional network is an invaluable tool if you find yourself in need of a new position.
Places Where Fleet Networking Happens
Networking is valuable for fleet industry leaders, but it does not happen automatically. You have to have a plan for networking if you wish to benefit from it. First, you need to identify where it will occur.
The most obvious way to network is to attend fleet-related conferences to meet other fleet industry leaders. Conferences provide not only the opportunity to see up-and-coming technology and new industry strategies, but also to make new industry contacts. Conferences are held throughout the year and across the country, so find one near you and start networking.
This is one of the most effective times to network, if you use it well, because it offers the chance to meet face-to-face with other industry leaders. You get the chance to put a face with a name and make a more personal connection. This, in turn, will help you to get more of a benefit later when you wish to reconnect with that individual.
Online forums are another valuable way to interact with other fleet professionals, albeit in a less personal manner. However, not all forums are created equal, and you have limited time to spend online interacting with other fleet professionals that may or may not provide value.
To streamline your online networking, consider using LinkedIn to effectively connect with other professionals with similar roles in the fleet industry. LinkedIn has a number of groups where informational articles, questions and answers and industry insights are regularly posted. You can even find a list of the top 25 fleet management profiles to follow, if you are not sure where to get started.
To use LinkedIn effectively, start by finding a few companies or individuals who you feel you could benefit from, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Then, become an active participant in questions or discussions that are pertinent to you. Soon you will build credibility and network contacts that you can reach out to when you need advice or help. LinkedIn can also point you towards other online platforms that will provide value.
Utilimarc can provide another networking opportunity. Because Utilimarc is constantly reaching out to other fleet industry leaders for surveys and data for fleet analytics projects, we have made a number of industry contracts that you can benefit from. Connecting with those leaders can help you add to your professional network.
Whom to Network With
Networking is value able, but you have to be careful to network properly and with the right people. You can easily find yourself wasting time talking to other fleet professionals who have no insight into the specific challenges your fleet is facing. For instance, if you manage a small-business fleet, and spend your time talking to fleet mangers with 1,000 trucks in their fleets, the tools and tricks your contacts use are not going to be applicable to you.
If you are going to spend your valuable time networking, focus most of your effort on peers in the same industry and with similar fleet sizes. Even working with peers in your same geographic area can help you use your time more wisely, and improve the chances of local meetups. The more alike you are, the more candidly you can discuss the experiences and challenges you face, gleaning insight from one another as you strive to run your fleets efficiently.
It can be valuable to have a few professionals in your network who are outside of your particular niche. Leaders who are at the forefront of developing new fleet technology or those, like Utilimarc, who are interviewing and surveying fleet professionals can provide valuable insight into fleet best practices that could assist you in running your fleet more efficiently.
So how effective is your networking plan? If you are not already working to build a professional network, make this the year that you start actively adding people to your network. You will find that the benefits are well worth the time invested.
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