FleetSpeak

How Do You Connect with Your Peers?

November 4, 2015

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

At the fleet events that I’ve attended over the past several years, the one thing I hear again and again is that fleet managers value their networking time. They enjoy talking to their fleet friends, colleagues, and vendor representatives they may only get to see once or twice a year. They learn from each other, they inspire each other, and they come back with ideas about how to improve their operation.

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day responsibilities after getting back and not follow through with those ideas or plans. Continuing the conversation, and even bringing some of your main issues to other fleet managers throughout the rest of the year, can help you solve some problems.

Networking Online

Modern technology provides tools to somewhat replicate the networking that’s such an important part of in-person events.

Individual e-mails, calls, and LinkedIn connection requests are one way to continue the conversation. But if you want to talk to a larger group of people, e-mail listservs allow fleets to blast out news and questions to each other. Various regional groups are actively using this method, sending out career opportunities and requests for information from individual fleet managers. I was impressed with a recent e-mail sent out by a member from one of the more active listserv groups of which I’m a member, the Northern California chapter of the Municipal Equipment Maintenance Association (MEMA). This person sent out a total cost of ownership breakdown of his fleet’s hydraulic hybrid garbage trucks unprompted, because he had heard some people were interested. Even if you weren’t in the market for new refuse trucks, that’s some great data you can glance at and pull up during the next procurement period.

There are various online fleet-specific groups and forums you can join. Government Fleet created its own FleetShare social network a few years ago to allow fleet managers to do the exact same sharing with a closed group of their peers. Don’t be scared by the term “social network.” It’s not Facebook; I promise no one has yet spammed their fellow fleet colleagues with photos of their babies, grandchildren, or cats.

Rather, it’s a portal that allows public-sector fleet professionals to connect with each other to discuss their fleet issues. If a fleet manager has a question about a specific police vehicle, he or she can ask if others have had this issue and have repair tips. Or if you’re looking for something you don’t know exists, such as a comparison study, you can ask. You can also brainstorm ways to recruit technicians. And if you’re looking for a one-on-one conversation, you can search for specific fleet professionals based on their expertise, fleet size, or region.

Maybe you’ll make some fleet friends, who you can meet in person at the next conference. Maybe you can continue that great conversation and discuss that inspiring idea you had while at an event.

Bridging the Generation Gap

What’s important is that fleet managers don’t work in a vacuum, that they share their expertise, and bring to the community the knowledge they’ve acquired throughout the years.

It’s also a great bridging tool for the new generation of fleet managers who are entering the industry — as veteran fleet managers retire, they can stay connected to the industry they’ve been involved with for so long and pass along their knowledge to the newer folks. And as a younger generation enters this industry, one that grew up with the internet, online social networks for fleets may become a lot more popular.

What’s your favorite method of connecting with other fleet managers?

Comments

  1. 1. Tara Merrifield [ November 16, 2015 @ 11:24AM ]

    I've found the best sources of information are the forums here on Government Fleet and also the National Conference of State Fleet Administrators (NCSFA). As a relatively new Fleet Manager, NCSFA has been a great resource that provides access to a targeted group that mostly matches the situations I face.

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Thi Dao

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Thi is the executive editor of Government Fleet magazine. She is interested in maintenance management and alternative fuels.

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Charles Bowen has been retired from the transportation industry since Sept. 15, 2011.

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