Because the trucking industry is something of a unique profession to get into, truck drivers tend to go their own way and may ignore or neglect some of the skills and strategies for success that other professionals swear by.
One of those skills and strategies is a rather important one: networking. For most professionals, “networking” more or less means “making friends in your industry,” keeping in contact with people you know and meet in order to (hopefully) forge professional connections that help you both succeed in your field of endeavor.
The logic here is simple: the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” If you know key people at trucking companies around your area, you’ll be privy to job openings, perhaps sooner than the general public. As people get promoted, friends can hire you and become supervisors (and vice versa, of course).
In the trucking industry this is as important as it is anywhere else, though it may seem kind of hard to come by. After all, truck drivers aren’t necessarily attending bi-monthly seminars, coffee klatches and speed networking events like other professionals, because they are typically too busy actually hitting the road and getting somewhere.
But as a professional truck driver, you still have some vital networking resources that you would be wise to consider keeping up with.
Trucking industry sites: You want to stay on the cutting edge of information in your industry, which is why you visit trucking industry sites daily to keep up with the latest innovations, law changes, and other occurrences in the biz. You can then circulate these articles around social media, and speak a little more intelligently about topics that come up elsewhere.
Message boards: Many drivers tool around on message boards, seeking advice, posting and looking for job openings, and just generally horsing around with other drivers, virtually speaking. There are many truck driving message boards, but Truckers Forum, Truckers Report, and Trucking Boards are three popular ones. Find a couple you are most comfortable with and join. Post with regularity and engage other truck drivers.
Social Media: Of course you should start with the essentials—that is, LinkedIn and Facebook—to establish connections. Pay particular attention to LinkedIn by keeping your profile fully updated, and join a couple of truck driving groups and make frequent posts and connections. Post articles and videos important to the trucking industry, and stay active (check and comment or post at least twice a day if possible). Of course, there are trucking social media sites like this and this that can also help you make connections on a larger scale.
Union meetings: If you’re a union employee, meetings are your chance to put your expertise to work for you. If you have followed these other bits of advice, you’ll likely find yourself a more informed voter, able to make a better decision on your union vote, and you’ll also perhaps hold more sway with your co-workers and friends as well. Plus it gives you opportunity to meet union employees from other companies, giving you the chance to mention if you are interested in new opportunities.
Truck stops: Ah yes, your everyday bastion of trucker activity. If you find yourself meeting the same people at multiple truck stops, why not make friends? Being sociable is the biggest way to network, so merely chatting with a colleague and maybe having breakfast or coffee together could be a good way to establish new contacts.
Conventions, conferences, and seminars: You may not be all that jazzed about the idea of going to a trucking convention or conference, but why not give it a shot? You get to hobnob with your industry’s leadership, get some good advice, and meet some colleagues along the way.
Trucking Groups and Organizations: Perhaps the best way to network is to join a group whose primary mission is to introduce truck drivers to each other for professional development. Groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), National Truckers Association, and America’s Independent Trucking Association