By Denny Kahler, AAM
In today's automotive service and repair environment, a shop owner can greatly benefit from peer-to-peer networking.
Whether you prefer manufacturer-specific groups, 20 Groups, ASA national, affiliate or chapter events, repair-related online discussion groups or training events - just to name a few - you're missing the mark if you're not in touch with your peers in the industry on an ongoing basis.
I speak from personal experience. When you are in a networking environment, the content of peer discussion groups can be good for all parties involved. Company-sponsored events provide a platform for manufacturers, service providers and others to learn the needs and challenges of the shop owner. Shop owners and managers learn from each other in all cases; we can also glean information from some of the hosts of such gatherings. No matter the mix, significant learning occurs from every angle.
Don't overlook the tremendous value of your online options either. For example, incorporating the International Automotive Technicians' Network (iATN) into your routine can provide you with an incredible amount of information because the others online are "just like you" and share the same challenges in their business. Networking is a highly effective tool where automotive service professionals can learn from each other. That's the true value - learning what you need to know so you can be as successful as possible.
I'm personally involved in several groups and recently attended an aftermarket manufacturer event where I noticed I could count on one hand the number of attendees lacking any gray in their hair! We are an aging industry. My challenge to each of you is to not only jump into the networking mix yourself - I promise you, you will learn from your peers - but to also bring part of our industry's future along with you!
How do we make the newer, younger shop owners successful? They are the future of our industry. Find someone to take along the next time a networking opportunity presents itself. Encourage a younger colleague to join you at the next trade show you attend, or the next chapter meeting ... or the next 20-group gathering ... The options for networking are vast.
And I'll let you in on another little secret about the benefits of networking. You will not only learn at a networking event, but you'll enhance your personal experience and feel rewarded when you know you've helped a colleague. There's probably not a single networking event that takes place where one doesn't hear at least a few times, "I didn't know that was available!" or "I didn't know that was out there!" Trust me, the more you're "in the know" in our industry, the less you hear "I can't ..." "I can't repair this," or "I can't do that."
Networking is good for all involved. It's one of the educational, social, enjoyable tasks we can undertake as service professionals that's truly a win-win situation for all parties involved. I'll see you at the next gathering!
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