Our Member-Get-a-Member campaign has been going strong since 1981, and it’s no surprise.
The program, which runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 each year, matters to our members because it provides incentives for them to refer people in their professional networks and friend groups to the Society. On top of the gratification that comes from seeing others benefit from the resources and professional development opportunities they also value, members participating in the campaign earn rewards, such as merchandise or even free education. If members refer three brand new, full members to the Society, they get a free webinar. If members refer five, they get a one-year extension to their own membership. At 10 referrals, members get a logo polo shirt and a free seminar. Each referral also earns members an entry into a drawing for a free professional development conference (PDC).
“People like it, in part, because it’s so easy to participate,” says membership engagement manager Susan Clark. “It takes less than 3 minutes. You tell the person you want to refer, ‘Hey, when you fill out your online ASSP application, put my name and member number along with the special promo code, for refer a friend.’ Then, customer service gets the info, and the referring member gets the credit.”
What’s more surprising about this 37-year-old initiative is what happens when you ask the most active participants why they do it. Rewards and the Member-Get-a-Member honor roll aside, one through line appears in the answers members give: People really care about involving young people in the occupational safety and health profession. They are all playing the long game, and when they look ahead, they know today’s students and young adults are tomorrow’s OSH leaders.
For member Wayne Jones, Ed.D., who is graduate coordinator of the OSH program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and has referred more than 1,000 new members to date, his students’ success is his priority.
“One of my former students told me at the PDC one year that the best thing he ever did was take my advice and join the Society,” he says. “It had really advanced his career.”
Likewise, Past President James “Skipper” Kendrick, CSP, who is currently the president and safety consultant at Kendrick Global Enterprises and has referred more than 200 members total, says he’s interested in directing his efforts in service of the future.
“In my opinion, it’s our responsibility to pay it forward for those young persons entering the profession,” he continues. “It is our profession, and we must each do our part to ensure its stability and sustain the growth.”
Society Fellow and global ambassador Jitendra “Jitu” Patel, CPEA, who has also referred more than 200 members and currently works as an international OSH consultant, has a slightly different approach to imagining what’s next for safety: He looks at his own past and how his involvement with the Society changed the trajectory of his life. He wants young professionals around the world to have access to the same opportunities.
“I was born in India, and came from a very rural district where there wasn’t even a school,” he says. “I had never seen a city in my life until I left India. I’m not sharing this to seek sympathy, but to make the point that if such a little boy coming from nowhere, having nothing to offer, can become an influential figure in safety with the help of the Society's global platform, then there’s something there for others.”
There are great reasons for anyone to participate in this year’s Member-Get-a-Member campaign. But the one that crosses every practice specialty, chapter, common interest group, country and generation is that members tend to get out of their experience what they put into it. Those who invest in their own careers, while also lifting up new and potential leaders, have the chance to go far.
“If everyone would just refer one person to the Society,” Jones says, “we could double our size from almost 40,000 to 80,000 members. What a great impact we could make.”