Tried and true professional development tactics

Q&A with Aaron Clevenger, Governor at Large, Generation Next

Muncie Power Products Inc.

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of Generation Next Edition

NTEA caught up with Generation Next Governor at Large Aaron Clevenger, Muncie Power Products Inc. ( LinkedIn profile ). Here, he offers insights to professionals new to the work truck industry.

What advice can you offer professionals who are new to the work truck industry? 

Being new to the work truck industry can have its challenges. The industry is very close-knit, but it’s all about getting connected.

  • Make the most of trade shows. Attend as many as you can and cover as much as of the floor as possible. Find out what kinds of companies are in the industry and have conversations with the people manning the booths. This will not only get you more acquainted with product and the companies behind them, but strike up friendships within the industry. You’ll be surprised how things start to click just from listening to what others are saying.

  • Join some groups/committees. This gets you connected to some great people who by default have something in common with you: the work truck industry. It will give you an in to building friendships and networking to strengthen and expand your professional reach.

  • Take advantage of training and webinars. Education is power. You will also be shocked to learn how many different things have an effect on our industry. You may also come away with new techniques on how you go about your business. 

What actions have you taken to advance your own professional development?
For my personal development, I’ve tried to step out of my comfort zone. It’s easy to go day to day doing what you’ve always done. Here’s some of the ways I’ve tried to up the ante:

  • I joined Generation Next. This helped me get face to face with some great people from around the industry. It’s gotten me to open up about what I see in my duties, but also given me an insight to what else is going on in the industry.

  • I enroll myself in training opportunities. This can be anything from product-specific training to general business, or even how to more effectively operate programs like Microsoft(r) Office Excel. Nothing is off the table.

  • I dive into articles and literature. Being in a sales position, I like to read up on different sales strategies. I also get great content from NTEA newsletters that update me on how global economies and politics may have an impact on our industry.

What are your top takeaways from attending Generation Next events at The Work Truck Show?
Networking is always at the top of my list. More so though, I’ve learned a lot and had a great time! 

  • I have been fortunate enough to network with the people who are and will be the face of our industry. I’ve had great discussions with companies I currently do business with, as well as companies I may be doing business with in the future. It’s helped create a positive bond.

  • I’ve been able to learn more about the industry as a whole. Most of our companies are a small piece of the entire industry. Whether it's hydraulics, lights, plows, chassis – it takes all of us. There’s a great deal of innovation with the work truck industry, and it’s been great to grab a beverage and pick some brains.

  • My favorite networking event from the last show was the Take 5 event. I got to meet with people from Generation Next, network with a number of NTEA board members, and was even feeling nice enough to let the Generation Next Chairman Shane Woodman win in Cornhole.

Any tips for trade show attendees?
Step out of your comfort zone, be intentional, and have a great pair of walking shoes.

  • Go out of your way to learn more. Go out of your way to see what’s out there. Don’t skip over a booth because you don’t know what the product/service is. You never know what could be beneficial to you or your company. It takes all of us to make this show what it is, and it takes all of us to make the work truck industry.

  • Be intentional. Intentionally ask questions and stay curious. Intentionally sit through some speakers. The time flies and you don’t want to miss out on a single bit of it.

  • Have the most comfortable shoes available. If you don’t have a comfortable pair of shoes, go buy some (and maybe some inserts while you’re at it. There’s a lot of ground to cover. Other than that, just enjoy the time and come say hi!

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