Your name is the single most important factor in your enterprise, whether you introduce and represent your company by speaking your name loudly and clearly while offering a hearty handshake – or write an equally hearty introductory post on a discussion thread.
Here’s a slightly off topic tip: the back of your head or an avatar that looks like Gumby and Courtney Love had a child, not a good personal branding choice.
I counsel my clients to use their whole names, by the way. So unless you are Perez or Cher (who might be the same person since we’ve never seen them together), when you are introducing yourself or registering on a website use: Bunky McFearson. That is, if you are Bunky McFearson. So Bunky, when you’re making a new acquaintance live and in-person, you might add: “That’s McFearson with an F.”
Give them a hook – give them a visual.
You see, within seconds of making contact: you got to work in your last name twice. You might also add, “I know, I look a lot like Kenny in South Park. I figure the K in my first name: ‘B-u-n-K-y’, is our connection.”
Always add something that forces your audience (one or one thousand plus people) to spend time remembering your name. You might give an association of your name and likeness to a famous person, develop a word picture or story, or create another reason that allows you to repeat your name.
Why is this an important factor in personal branding and not simply echolalia? Because you’re helping your audience overcome a widespread and embarrassing problem. Almost everyone is nervous when it comes to remembering names of people they’ve just met. So, your name ritual is a personal branding tool for two reasons. One, you are making multiple impressions with your name. Two, you are perceived as ready, relaxed and helpful, perhaps even opening a window on your sense of humor. Simply put, you are relationship building.
Here’s one of my self-introductions for a networking event.
“I’m Nance Rosen. Yes, just Nance, not NanCY. When I was born, my parents were too poor to afford more than one syllable, so they left off the ‘Y’ and stuck on an ‘E.’ So, I’m not Nancy Rosen just Nance Rosen.” (Pause and Smile) Just kidding. Actually, there’s only one other Nance I know. She’s Nance Mitchell the famous Beverly Hills hairdresser. Obviously, no one would mistake us for each other (my hair is usually pinned up so I can shower and get to work in under ten minutes). Obviously, we have different businesses and priorities (Smile). I’m the executive publisher at Pegasus Media World and I speak to audiences on the topic of personal branding.”
Avoid the Vacuum
I want to break you of the habit of introducing yourself into a vacuum. The first time you say your name it is swallowed up and your audience’s brain space goes vacant. You need to establish your name as a beachhead for your personal branding from now on. No, you don’t have to do a soliloquy, but you do want to say something so people can later LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and more, with you.
If they collect a pile of business cards, they will remember you when they see your name.
Do this before your next holiday gathering.
- Consider how you can say your name and associate it with memorable images.
- Create your “story” and say it 10 times before you greet your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s daughter at your family’s holiday party. Every new person you meet could be a prospect or referral source.
- Never stop branding.