I love working with employee assistance professionals. They are courteous, insightful, highly intelligent, and understanding, which I suppose makes perfect sense for people working in one of the “helping professions”. I know firsthand about the good things that EAPs do in the workplace.

That’s why I’m often puzzled by the number of people I run into who don’t know what an handsEAP is or what it does. If you mention it as, “that 800 number you call for help at work” they have an idea what you mean, but even then just vaguely. I don’t think it needs to be that way!

“You must be visible and constantly raise the profile of EAPs in the workplace,” recommends Thomas McNulty, president of Success Stories, Inc. The following are some suggestions.

* Learn how you can become an expert on a workplace issue(s). As a former newspaper reporter I can attest to how much this tip can help. Media love having area professionals they can contact to localize stories on important workplace, behavioral, and related topics. Meet with local media and let them know you are available for an interview, comment, or quote when your area of expertise is in the news. Or what about writing a column for a local newspaper about important mental health and related subjects? The free exposure will raise awareness of both the EA profession and your individual EAP. It’s a win-win!

* Get on a local speaking circuit. Don’t get pigeonholed into only hanging out with EAP colleagues, McNulty stresses. Utilize Chamber of Commerce, civic groups (think Lions, Rotary, etc.) and others to raise awareness of an important issue or about EAP in general. In the former example, you can capture a great deal of attention by being seen as a reliable source of credible information. In the latter, you may be making people aware of EAP who wouldn’t have thought of using it.

* Network everywhere and with everyone. People frequently think of networking only at events such as Chamber of Commerce and professional association gatherings, like chapter and World EAP conferences. But some of the most productive business comes from chance encounters – at the grocery store, at ball games, doctor’s offices, etc. McNulty says it’s important to be alert to these possibilities, and be ready to explain the services that you offer. Do you have a “30-second elevator speech?” You never know when it can come in handy!

more hands* Utilize social media. Some people are intimidated about getting involved in social media, and while it’s true that one needs to be careful of what you say…don’t underestimate how much many Millennials use these platforms to communicate. If you aren’t already using social media, contact a tech-savvy professional who can help you get started. You can’t start rowing if you’re not at least in the boat!

* If you don’t have one already, develop a presentation that is easy to understand, slick, and customized for the potential client. Your slideshow should be simple, according to business expert Shelley Plemons. “Stay away from confusing graphics, and don’t put too much text on the screen. Use bulleted points that are concise, and stay away from jargon.”

I realize there are EA professionals who are well-versed in marketing their program, and they should be commended. Other readers, however, should probably be doing more to promote awareness of their EAP. What is YOUR EAP doing? What points may have been overlooked in this post? I’d love to hear from you.