Networking For Drivers In A Digital Ageby Jake Tully - Published: 6/12/2017
These days, it seems as though the importance of networking in one’s industry or profession is becoming paramount to one’s success. No matter what occupation one holds, having connections in the digital age is not only a savvy trend for one’s career, but a requisite for one to be considered a potential candidate for a potential position.
In the commercial transportation industry, networking is a valuable tool for drivers currently seeking trucking jobs or simply looking to make a connection for a future career move. The new culture of networking does not mean that a driver’s experience or expertise completely goes out the window, for it certainly helps to supplement one’s networking presence.
Some drivers may wonder how they can make these connections in the industry as well as what avenues are effective in promoting their professional presence online and in person. The good news is that networking nowadays may not be as difficult as some believe it to be.
January 5th: Trucker Faces 20 Years After Pleading Guilty To Smuggling Alien Found Dead In Locked Toolbox
January 2nd: Police Identify 2 Oregon Truck Drivers Killed In Fiery Head-On Crash
December 27th: Iowa First Of Eight States To Debut New Truck Parking Information System
Conventions and Trade Shows – A Classic Meeting Place
For truckers, one of the best ways to make connections in the industry is through attending the tried and true conventions and trucking trade shows that have been prevalent in the industry for years.
The large-scale trucking conventions such as MATS and GATS are obvious choices for drivers to meet one another and make potential connections in the industry. With expansive showrooms, a large floor space and vendors/companies from all around the country, there is no limit to who a driver may meet or what potential connections they may make.
However, if you are unable to make it out to the large trucking shows such as The Great American Trucking Show held in Texas and The Mid-American Trucking show held in Kentucky, there are generally more localized conventions and show in one’s state that have meetings at least once a year. Every state has a Trucking Association related to it, and many of these associations hold frequent meetings, seminars and other events that are worthwhile for those seeking networking opportunities.
Another route for finding connections are attending conventions that are associated with trucking, but perhaps not those that are trucking-centric, so to speak. There are a great deal of conventions relating to energy, technology and safety that have a focus on driver-related topics.
These types of events are perfect for a driver in a specialized industry or one that wants to break into a specialized industry – such as working for green fleets or hauling HAZMAT loads – to meet professionals in the industry and discuss potential trucker job moves. California alone has a great deal of conventions that align with the trucking industry, from energy expos in Southern California to technology meetups in Silicon Valley. It never hurts to check out an event for that potential networking opportunity.
Using Social Media
Younger drivers may be more invested in an online world than veterans of the road, but perhaps the most logical move in networking is using social networking sites to more easily connect with people in your industry.
LinkedIn, to the initiated, may seem as though it is a site that only has sees results for white-collar workers and marketing professionals. The truth is that LinkedIn has an excellent culture and atmosphere for the commercial transportation industry, and sees a great deal of truckers, dispatchers and other trucking job seekers who are active on the site.
Aside from hosting trucking company profiles and allowing active users to connect with one another, LinkedIn frequently has jobs within trucking that users can apply for or contact the job poster about for more information. Even if there are no open or desirable positions for a driver, LinkedIn is still an excellent place to reach out to those in one’s job field and plant some seeds for a future relationship.
Aside from LinkedIn, Facebook can still be a useful tool for drivers, pending that they are utilizing it to its fullest extent. Aside from its ancillary features, Facebook can serve a similar function as LinkedIn, giving its users a platform to connect within groups (think “Oversized load haulers” or “Florida State Truckers”) as well as reach out to business pages to stay updated on any changes they may be making or the even a job opening that has recently become available.
Facebook can serve its users well if they log on with the express purpose of helping themselves make connections, otherwise it can become a monumental waste of time. Facebook may also allow users to create their own groups/pages in the hopes of attracting like-minded drivers to join their efforts.
Traditional Ways Of Networking
Although a great deal of marketing has shifted towards the online arena, every now and then glimpses and traces of a simpler era shines through. With over 500,000 trucking companies in the United States, there are still a great deal of fleets that are less immersed in the modern era.
Many companies regularly hold an open house for potential job applicants to drop in a inquire about a job, as do many companies have community-centered events that either bring awareness of their business to the nearby area or to simply establish goodwill within a nearby area. Companies who host these events will be happy to meet drivers who prefer face-to-face interactions and prefer a firm handshake versus sending a message online.
A driver must keep in mind that these “open house” opportunities may be few and far between in our digital age, but if they are available one should take advantage of them and make a lasting impression with a trucking company that is currently hiring.
But Getting Back to Digital…
Inevitably, another suggestion for truck driver networking is brings us back to the internet. Truck driving forums and message boards can be excellent for posting questions to a specific audience and receiving feedback on general questions regarding employment, feedback on companies, potential open positions and opportunities within the trucking market.
These forums are generally populated by students, current drivers, and veterans, which may offer drivers a vast array of answers and experiences throughout the market. In many cases, these message boards and online forums are moderated an expert in the industry to ensure that users are providing more accurate and unbiased answers to their fellow users.
For the job seeker perusing these message boards, it may be somewhat difficult to cut through the mire in order to find substantial and helpful content. Users on these boards can post their own queries, writing something along the lines of “Experienced Local Driver seeking Work” as a title for a forum posting. In the body of a posting, a driver can list their experience level and some details about their job, “Have 10 years of driving within Michigan, I have no DUIs or accidents on record” to give others an idea of what kind of job candidate they are. Often times, fellow users will recommend a company to look into, or may even have a personal contact within a company they are willing to share with someone.
Forums may be the least reliable avenue in which to gain information about a potential career move, but they are nonetheless seeing a substantial growth in their online prevalence. Whether or not forums lead to career prosperity is one matter. Forums and message boards can be, however, a fascinating and fun addition to one’s networking experience in trucking.
How to Choose a Networking Plan
It can be incredibly difficult to decide which networking route to pick when embarking on a journey of using new resources in which to find a new job or to simply meet others in the trucking community. Older drivers may be more inclined to shy away from the technology-oriented methods of networking while younger drivers may be less likely to attend an in-person meet and greet at their local trucking company.
Overall, great networking may be about getting outside of one’s comfort zone and attempting to find a new way of reaching out to people. There is no shortage of what opportunities may be presented when stepping out of the comfort of one’s traditional ways of job seeking.