How to build a support network
No one is an island. And in our connected world, no one needs to be alone. Yet, it’s still far too common for workers in the transport industry – especially managers – to feel that they’ve got no one to turn to when things get tough or when they just want to talk shop for a while.
The benefits of having a support network
A good support network is invaluable. In addition to providing you with company and social contacts, there are three key benefits. You may be:
- Alerted: to fresh perspectives on your situation, problems or goals.
- Supported: in your everyday work and when facing problems.
- Challenged: to think differently or take a new perspective.
These are all substantial benefits in their own right, but there’s more. A strong support network can even be good for your health. A 2020 US study by the Mayo Clinic found that having a social support network has mental and physical health benefits, including:
- Improving the ability to cope with stressful situations
- Alleviating the effects of emotional distress
- Promoting lifelong good mental health
- Enhancing self-esteem
- Lowering cardiovascular risks (such as blood pressure)
- Promoting healthy lifestyle behaviours
- Encouraging adherence to a treatment plan
How, then, can we build a support network around ourselves to provide advice, suggestions, fresh perspectives and the occasional reality check?
Jacquelene Brotherton, Transport Manager at Lineage Logistics and Chair of Transport Women Australia Limited, is a big believer in support networks and their ability to help make your work more satisfying.
“There are incredible pathways once you get into the industry, so it’s not just coming in and getting stuck in one position,” she says. A good network can help you find a place in the industry, advance your career and even make life-long connections.
The good news is that it’s not that hard to do. There are three fertile grounds for networking to start with: industry associations, industry events and mentors.
Most industries have one or more professional associations, and transport is no exception. Join up. They can be a great source of information and contacts, not to mention a way to gain insights into how other businesses operate.
Associations also run local and national training programs and events, so don’t miss out. “We initiate a lot of programs,” Jacquelene says, including a conference and networking events. And while her organisation focuses on transport industry women, many others have a broader focus.
Industry events are another excellent source of contacts. Attend the conference sessions, visit the booths and attend any networking events, for example, the recent Brisbane Truck Show.
“We all love trucks, and I think that’s half the battle,” Jacquelene says. “We love to get together with people in the industry and talk.”
Even in our COVID-affected age, many events are going ahead online, so there’s no reason to miss out no matter where you are.
Mentors have many benefits, but they can also be your support network’s anchor. A good mentor will introduce you to industry contacts they think you’ll get along with or will be able to share information with. They’ll also be a significant source of career advice and support along the way.
Jacquelene’s organisation runs a mentoring program, and she’s watched mentors and mentees alike “learning from each other and creating connections … it’s working really, really well”.
If you’d like to get involved as a mentor or mentee, contact your industry association. If you work at a large company, internal opportunities might also be available – check with your HR team to learn more.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building your network today. You’ll be glad you did.
This article has been developed as part of NTI’s The Business of Safety series with the aim of helping transport and logistics businesses become safer and more sustainable. The Business of Safety is funded by the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Australian Government.
- Information in this article is a guide only. It does not take into account your personal or business circumstances. Whilst all due care has been taken, you must not rely on the information as an alternative to legal, legislated regulatory and compliance requirements associated with your business activities. NTI.M002.14.01082021