As ASSE members, we reap certain benefits from our membership. These benefits vary for each of us as we all have different wants and needs, as well as a myriad of reasons for belonging to ASSE. Some of those benefits are indirect, such as advancing the profession and promoting SH&E professionals. As ASSE members, we also all feel different levels of commitment to the organization.
One thing is certain, however. No matter what you seek from ASSE, it is important that you help choose strong leaders who will advance the Society. March 1 brings us to an important phase in the leadership evolutionary cycle: Society elections. Some of you may be groaning at hearing the annual plea to vote, but history suggests that many of you simply will not vote. I urge you to rethink that. You invest in ASSE—your money, time, resources—and you expect to receive certain benefits in return. Why not help maximize those returns by electing the best possible leadership?
ASSE’s election process is rigorous for the candidates. The Nominations and Elections Committee sorts through all the applications to select the two most qualified potential leaders for each Society position. It is then up to you to decide which individuals will become leaders of ASSE, your regions and your chapters.
ASSE has strict rules about campaigning. This helps protect us from having a process where those with the resources to invest in the campaign have an advantage. Instead, ASSE offers several ways to learn about the candidates. You can read candidates’ biographies in the February 2010 issue of Professional Safety. Candidate bios and platform statements are also posted on ASSE’s website at www.asse.org/elections. Reading this information will help you learn about each candidate and what s/he hopes to accomplish while in office.
Another great way to learn about candidates is to invite them to call in to a chapter meeting. According to the rules, you must invite both candidates and give them both equal opportunities to speak. This creates an opportunity to hear them speak and it generates some dialogue around your members’ interests.
Another way to learn about candidates is to ask around in your network. Most of us look to our networks to find new opportunities or to get guidance on a work challenge, but networks also can be a great source of information about candidates for ASSE office.
Speaking about networks, I encourage you to ask yourself whether you are investing wisely or sufficiently in yours. A network is more than a list of people you can call. Instead, think of your network as a list of people who can, and would, call you. To establish those relationships, you must contribute value to your network. Social networking and electronic media are great ways to achieve this. You also will gain recognition, which will further extend your network.
ASSE has been striving to better utilize available tools to improve communication with and among members. From adding Ning sites to webinars and virtual symposia, and from blogs and social media groups to Twitter, we are finding new, efficient ways to bring members together. As I have said all year, we must continuously seek out and use new, cost-effective ways to serve members’ needs and to reach more of our members with more services.
Whether March is bringing you spring or autumn, this is one of the most obvious seasons of change. Look at it as an opportunity to get motivated and invest in your network and in ASSE. Both investments will produce long-term gains for your career.