Say my name. It's not just a Destiny's Child song.
I’ve been starting and growing businesses most of my life. When you grow up in a huge ethnic, entrepreneurial family, you are hard-wired to work, work, work. So for me, working has always been like breathing, which is why I think that at a very early age, and especially as I matured into my own ventures, I figured out a way to make my business rewarding and fun, while also being profitable.
Through all the "formal" training courses (like Landmark Education), academics (while at Oakland University), and books I’ve read, there’s a thread of (what I consider) common sense related to the notion of "say my name".
I've learned “on the job” as I welcomed the public into our businesses:
Be friendly. Smile. Make eye contact, and above all, say a person’s name when addressing them.
I have found this to be a key in breaking down barriers.
It warms relationships up, as they start to form, when a new customer is greeted for the first time, by name.
Imagine my delight, as I’ve grown my Digital Marketing & Consulting business, that these are not only key business-building elements off line, they are equally, if not more crucial when building online relationships. Why? We don’t have the advantage of looking into a person’s eyes to communicate sincerity. Saying a person's name helps with all communication, on and off line.
Think about it. In the world of Twitter, for example, where we reach out in concise bites with a limited character count, how does it make you feel when someone warmly greets you by first name, in addition to your Twitter handle?
Whether online or off, I’ve noticed that I often respond more warmly to someone who takes the time (and keyboard strokes) to say my name.
By the same token, one of the biggest Social Business “fails” I’ve seen, is a business that identifies themselves as the name of the business, without identifying the people and names behind the business. This happens on owned channels as well, like websites.