Networking Tips

Support Beyond Referrals

Submitted by Virginia Green, PhD, MBA – Member, BNI Pipeline, Redondo Beach, CA for 13 years

“Givers Gain®,” right?  That’s what we do here in BNI, but sometimes that goes beyond a great referral. Sometimes it’s knowing when and how we can help when someone is struggling.

Few of our members are licensed mental health professionals, but most of us are compassionate human beings. Networking is about building trusting relationships, and part of that is noticing when something is wrong.

What are the signs that someone might need help with anxiety or even depression? Here are some widely accepted things to look for:

  • Personality Changes
  • Uncharacteristically angry, agitated, or moody
  • Withdrawal or isolation from other people
  • May neglect self-care and engage in risky behavior
  • Overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by circumstances

We might not observe these signs of emotional distress, but they might show up in a 1-2-1.

But then, what do we do? Actually, you don’t have to DO anything, but here are 5 ways you can show that you care:

  • Connect: Through your regular interaction with the person, note any changes in behavior.
  • Reach Out: Check in with the person. “How are you doing?” is a simple way to engage.
  • Inspire hope. Tell them that you care about them.
  • Offer help. It may take more than one offer, and you may need to reach out to others who share your concern about the person.
  • Show compassion. Show a willingness to find a solution when the person may not know they need help.

Not sure you signed up for this? True, you did not sign up to be anyone’s therapist. But BNI’s Code of Ethics reminds us to “Display a positive and supportive attitude.” Sometimes, that is about more than applause at a meeting. Here are some free resources that are devoted to helping people who are struggling. None of us is alone.

National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI): 800-950-6264, www.nami.org

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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