The secret of connecting with others – your name!
Nothing sounds sweeter than the sound of your name. When you were a baby you got to know it well as mom and dad surely started to speak to you from the get go. Ironically enough you could not even participate in the conversation; you were reduced to be a mere listener, because you were so little.
Then you grow up. The older you get, the more people you meet, but the fewer know and use your name. Ironic, is it not? Not only does it hurt your soul, but it also hurts career and limits how many people will sustainably get or stay in touch with you.
That is the second angle of the irony that is your name: In order to gain more connections, you first must learn how to give. In this case that would be your name. All the good conversations and rapport building that you are capable of engaging in mean nothing, if people cannot remember your name. All it would take fixing this is putting your name on a tag and wearing it.
What is outright mind boggling is how fast we adopt the first name basis in our society any more. In a way that is great, because it lowers the resistance speaking to one another. Problem is that the bigger the groups get and especially when they happen to gather outside business settings, the lesser the chance that people will introduce themselves. When only few people know each other during such gatherings you probably know what comes next. Cliques form comprising people who DO know each other. Result: No new connections are formed, because people “don’t know anybody”. That is so silly!
What a great opportunity that is missed making the acquaintance of remarkable people. Are you using Facebook or LinkedIn? Well, you should. If you are then you probably know where I am going with this one. Just check out who knows whom and how many people we are connected to when you look even it is only the second or third level. It is fascinating how many people are connected to us.
Why is that important? That is very simple. The most precious commodity nowadays is attention. Our world is so noisy that fewer than ever people can rise above all this noise and chatter. If you want attention you need to provide value genuinely and sincerely, but the most important factor is who knows you and not whom you know. If they never get to know as much as your name: puff, you are gone.
There are two basic ways to change this dynamic and getting connected with people. The most basic form takes courage. You go and make a point speaking with people that you do not know. Let it be a business or social meeting. Make sure to say hello, extend your arm (depending on the geographic location you also hug if need be), and introduce yourself. Mention how you are connected to people in the room, which is also already a great ice breaker and conversation starter.
Kicking this up a notch is easy to execute, but tougher to mentally gather the courage to actually pull it off. Print or hand write your name on a label and wear it on your shirt or jacket. Are you really brave? Get some clothes embroidered with your name – and I mean the full name. No need to mention company name or job title. That may cubby hole you too early and you did not get on Earth this way either. Titles do not describe who you are anyway; they kind of describe what you do. Leave this part for breaking the ice with other folks verbally. Perhaps you can think of adding a line of what you do in a witty approach. I for instance would do use this one: “I help shake your snow globe” instead of “helping people reach their full potential”.
Great meeting organizers have known this powerful way how to connect people and that is why you wear name tags with all sorts of information around your neck. Why would you not be able to tap into the some tool bin? I have had the most interesting things happening to me when I wear my name tag. It has enriched my life and that of the folks I met. There is always something that we can take away from meeting and getting to know new folks. You have got to be the first one to gather the courage and putting your name out there. As my mentor Tom Hill always says you can “create predictable miracles”.