Your Name Precedes You
When you meet someone for the first or second time, do you let them struggle with your name?
I’ve been to three networking events in the past week, and each one has offered case studies on how to — and how not to — manage one’s name around the all-important introduction or the “nice-to-see-you-again” moment.
Call me a cynic, but it truly boggles my mind how some people make me guess their name… and how some even appear resentful when I struggle — all the while, I’m wearing my name tag in a prominent place, and they’re not even wearing theirs. Helloooo?
“But You See Me Online A Lot!”
I was challenged by a fellow at an event recently for not remembering his name, because he comments on my posts a lot. We had only met in person once, and that was months earlier.
What’s more, his online profiles are under different nicknames and his profile pics are of landscapes!
P.S. He was not wearing his name badge, and virtually everyone else at the event was.
I’m sorry, fella’, but I don’t feel inadequate about not remembering your name. I’m human.
And I’m not the only human out here.
But I am trying to help! So to be cruel to be kind, first I list…
Five Sins of Managing Your Name
The first two sins directly apply to networking at organized events:
- You don’t wear the name tag that the event organizers prepare for you.
- You wear the name tag, but you place it in a difficult place to see; and if you write your own tag, you scribble it and use small letters.
- On your LinkedIn or Facebook profile — and even on your profile within said event’s community — you don’t post a pic of yourself. If you do, it’s of poor quality, it’s not a close-up, or it’s a shot of you in kindergarten with your favorite pet.
- When you meet someone, they say, “Hi…” and confidently state their name; then you say, “Yeah, I know, John,” and you don’t say anything else (like… your name!).
- When they smile and say, “Refresh me on your name again,” you appear offended, or you signal that you’re better at name recall then they are.
If you do any combination of the above, I regret to inform you that you are not only a less-than-stellar networker, but you have also created a negative vibe around one of your most precious brave new sales assets : your name.
You have not gained anything positive with an encounter like that.
Your brand has just been trashed… by none other than you.
Are you really offended if someone doesn’t have a perfect memory? Well, that says more about you than it does about that someone else.
And that only exacerbates the bad vibe you’ve created around your name.
If you’re in sales, or if you’re an independent consultant, entrepreneur or freelancer, you may have just alienated a potential buyer, referral or brand evangelist.
OK, cynicism aired.
So let’s segue to the positive.
You’re self-secure and you know people don’t have perfect memories.
Five Must-Dos For Managing Your Name
Again, the first two apply directly to events. Here’s what you must do:
- Upon greeting the hosts, you look for your name badge or label, and you immediately put it on.
- You put this name tag in a highly visible place, as high up your body and near your head as feasibly possible. (If you’ve placed your name tag on your belt and you notice people stealing glances at your lower body, trust me, all they want is to know your name!) If you are asked to handwrite your own name tag, you do so boldly. You double-check to make sure that the first few letters of your name are not under your lapel.
- You use the same photo for all your online profiles. (Some say you can have more fun with Facebook; I personally go for consistency.) Make this pic a close-up. Make sure you’re recognizable… very. Take the time to get a quality pic; spend some dosh if you have to.
- When you meet someone, whether it be a second encounter or first introduction, you don’t let anyone stumble with your name… not the person introducing you, nor the person you’re greeting. You offer your name immediately, confidently, and warmly. Your name precedes you. “Jack.” (Smile. Shake hands.)
- No matter how clear you think you’ve been in identifying yourself, when someone says, “Sorry?” or says, “What’s your name, again?” you appear happy to repeat it; you appear understanding that there could have been a distraction, or that the person may even be hard of hearing.
Now here’s the kicker.
When someone greets you and immediately states their name, chances are they’re struggling with your name.
They’re Asking For Help. Stay Positive!
It doesn’t matter that they’ve stated the obvious to you by reiterating their name. This is usually a subtle request for you to follow suit and state your name.
They want to know your name! You should be happy!
So follow suit!
“Hi John… Jack.”
They might even pretend that they’ve remembered: “Of course, Jack.” Don’t focus on their white lie. They’re being polite!
Seize the positivity, and move forward. Introduce them to the people you’re with. Ask them what they’re working on lately. Whatever!
Your name precedes you, and now you’re ready to proceed after putting your best name forward.
It’s your name.
It’s your brand.
It’s one of your greatest assets, and assets are meant to be positive.
Make sure your name precedes you.
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I help freelancers and companies sell more effectively. I’d love to chat about your biggest challenges and opportunities. You can message me here in the comments to arrange a conversation, or you call me directly at +41 76 43 43 043.
Photo by Giant Ginko http://www.flickr.com/photos/giantginkgo/37740313/