Say Their Name

In executive recruiting and in business, say their name. Calling someone by name is a simple courtesy that is easy to forget. However, speaking a person’s name is one of the most effective ways to win friends and influence people.

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie. 

Research has shown that when you say their name it activates certain parts of the brain. The inferior frontal gyrus light up when a person hears his or her own name but does not illuminate at the sound of other people’s names. When you say their name, you are triggering a reaction that traces back to our evolutionary need for survival. You forge a primal bond.

Of course, you want to avoid using a name too much or you sound like a robot. 😉

inferior frontal gyrus

By NEUROtiker (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Be Mindful During Introductions

Whenever I meet someone, I try to remind myself to slow down and be present in the moment. Our short attention span culture is filled with tweeting and texting distractions that make it hard to zoom in on the person standing right in front of us. So as I am introduced, I focus with intention on appreciating that new person in my life. If I am uncertain, I ask what they preferred to be called and check to make sure I’m pronouncing their name correctly. I do that to honor their name and to show it matters to me.

Value Making Connections

Over the years, I’ve learned the value of giving someone your undivided attention when you are being introduced, if only for a few minutes. I’m sure you’ve experienced times in your life when you met someone whom you immediately sensed really “got” you and appreciated who you were. Certain celebrities and politicians are masters of the meet-and-greet. You could be in a room filled with hundreds of people. The VIP may be on a reception line. But when he or she gets to you, it is as if everyone else in the room disappears. Vice President Joe Biden is a master at making those he meets feel appreciated. He enjoys connecting with others and it shows.


Do a Research to Spark Your Interest

To be effective at networking, you actually need to want to get to know someone else. The desire needs to be there. I find it helps to do a little research Then you honor that person with your full attention. So very often in business, we are not operating in the here-and-now. When we meet someone and exchange business cards, we often shove them into our pockets without looking at them. That is a lost opportunity.

Ritualize the Exchange Business Cards

Imagine how much more powerful it would be if you exchanged business cards the way the Japanese in a  ritual called meishi koukan (名刺交換). In Japan, business people exchange business cards in a formal ceremony designed to facilitate introductions, to commit a person’s name to memory, and to enable future communications. You must pause to read the card and appreciate the design in such a way as to convey deep respect. The business card is actually viewed as an extension of the person’s body. You must never write on the card because it is as if you are writing on the person’s face. You must never shove the card into your back pocket because it is as if you are sitting on that person’s face.

There are specific steps you must follow:

  • You must remove a pristine card from your cardholder in preparation.
  • You must defer to the highest-ranking executive to exchange cards first.
  • You must use both hands when you make the exchange.
  • You must make sure the card is facing the recipient
  • You must keep the card visible for the entire meeting.

Clearly, the Japanese understand that our name connects us to our identity and sense of self. It is uttered first by our parents and by people who care about us the most. Our name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say our name is the most important word in the world. Harness that power by focusing on the moments you meet someone else. If you do, chances are you will remember that person’s name a little more easily and they just might remember yours, like Isenberg in Breaking Bad.



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