You are a Brand, and you should always market yourself like one. And that is especially true of establishing your brand recall and brand image. One key aspect of personal branding is to learn to introduce yourself in a way that you stand out from the crowd and are easily remembered in a positive light long after the first introduction is over.
Here are 4 killer techniques to firmly establish yourself as UNFORGETTABLE:
1. Introduce Yourself Memorably
Most people don’t know how to introduce themselves. They say their name as if it were just one word. “Hi, I’m Barbarajacobson.” The person you are meeting can’t understand what you just said. They hear “Hi, I’m Barbara blah blah blah.” Most people can’t remember more than 3 syllables at a time, so you need to add an auditory space between your first and last name so it can be heard, processed, understood and then hopefully remembered. Learn that you have a new middle name and it is SPACE. So when you introduce yourself, you say, “Hi, I’m Barbara (space) Jacobson.” Practice it until it flows smoothly and naturally.
Look for and try to create an auditory prompt so your name is easy to remember. If you have a name with another meaning, try using it as a memory prompt. My friend Brook Carey introduces herself by saying “Hello, I’m Brook Carey. That’s Brook like a babbling brook, and Carey like Mariah Carey. They will remember her name because she created a rich visual image in their mind, and a visual image is stronger than just an auditory message for creating memory.
Spell your name if there is the possibility of confusion by the person you meet. I have an unusual last name, so I introduce myself on the phone as “Hi, I’m Diane Huth — that’s H-U-T-H, Huth.” In the past I tried to add, “It’s pronounced Huth — like Ruth.” That was memorable — but everyone remembered Ruth instead of Diane and called me Ruth, so that didn’t work out so well. Your challenge is to come up with a clever way to help a stranger remember your name, and practice your introduction until it comes naturally.
2. It’s Important to Remember THEIR Names
You must also remember and repeat the name of the person you just met. Repeat the new person’s name at least three times in the first minute after an introduction to help remember it. Your conversation might go. “Hi, Steve, it’s nice to meet you. Steve, what do you do for a living? Steve, I want to introduce you to my friend Mary. Mary, this is Steve, Steve, this is Mary.” At the end of this exchange, you will probably remember that his name is “Steve.”
3. My Secret Name Recall Tip
Remembering someone’s name is very important in creating likeability. But sometimes you do forget. Let me share my secret trip for recalling someone’s name.
For several years, I headed up both a professional organization and a singles social group, and was on the podium presenting speakers and addressing the audience at events. Many people knew my name, but I didn’t know or remember theirs. Like many people, I’m awful at remembering names in the first place, so it was a real challenge for me. I created this technique that will serve you well in your career.
When someone comes up to me and says “Hi, Diane, I haven’t seen you in ages,” I don’t ask them who they are — that would be an insult. Instead I immediately shake hands and then introduce them to someone whose name I do know. The conversation might go like this: “I’m great, thanks. I’d like to introduce you to my friend Bob.” Bob politely sticks out his hand and says “Hi, I’m Bob Jones.” Then the new person introduces herself to Bob, saying, “Hi, Bob, I’m Barbara Jacobson.” Aha! Now I know her name, and I can say “Barbara, what have you been up to lately?”
4. It’s All About Them
When you’re talking to people while you are networking, there is one golden rule: “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” Being a good conversationalist doesn’t mean that you talk in an enchanting or interesting manner about yourself. It means that you LISTEN to them talk about themselves! They want to talk about themselves and you may have to prompt them to get started.
Ask them about themselves, “How long have you belonged to this organization?” “What do you do for a living?” “How long have you worked for that company?” “That’s an interesting last name — what is the origin?” “What are your biggest challenges in your job today?” Your challenge is to get them talking about themselves, their company and their interests. As they talk, you nod and give them words or gestures and body language of encouragement or acknowledgement. They’re going to think you’re fascinating. Ask smart questions. Every time you ask smart questions and they answer, you should acknowledge and affirm what they say with a nod, a smile, an “umhumm” or a statement of interest.
My friend and mentor John Carter told me how he was hired right out of graduate school for a much sought-after job in account management with the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York City — a plum of a job. He had an on-campus interview with a recruiter, just like twenty other students that day. When he sat down with the recruiter, he said, “I know what an account executive does, and I know what a copywriter does, but I don’t know what Human Resources does.” The recruiter launched into an animated explanation of how important his job was and how business was changing and how they were the frontline for acquiring talent for the company and on and on. When the half-hour interview was over, John had never talked about himself or the job or his qualifications. He left discouraged — expecting another polite rejection letter. The company extended a job offer to only one person from that campus recruiting trip. Yep, John got the job — only because he was a good listener and got the interviewer to talk about himself.
So network wisely and effectively and listen much more than you talk. Set a goal of only talking ¼ of the discussion – 25% of the time. You’ll be amazed by how much you learn.
By Diane Huth, MA, MBA, The Accidental Career Coach