Remember and Use People’s Names

I’ve been in Ireland for the past 10 days.   I’m back in the USA now.  While I loved Ireland, I’m happy to be home.  I didn’t do any career advice blogging last week because I was very busy with some consulting work and I was having difficulty with my internet connection in the hotel.

In this post, I want to go back to two Saturday’s ago when something big (in my world at least) happened.  Joe Paterno, coach of my beloved Penn State Nittany Lions won his 400th game.  Penn State was losing 21 – 0 against Northwestern, but scored 35 unanswered points to get Joe his 400th win.  That makes him the winningest coach in BSC football history.

Joe Paterno was the football coach when I arrived at Penn State in 1968.  He’s still the coach today.  Joe is quite a coach, and quite a guy.  Most of his players graduate.  He’s given several million dollars to the university.  Many schools have athletic facilities names for a coach.  At Penn State, we have the Paterno wing of Patee Library.  Joe Paterno is an icon and someone I respect and admire.

Like most Penn State alums I have a Joe Pa story.  It highlights some really great career advice – remember and use people’ names.

If I were writing Success Tweets today, one of the tweets would be “Remember and use people’s names.  That’s the best way to start building strong relationships.”

Several years ago, I was in New York.  It was the day after the ESPYs had been held at Radio City Music Hall.  I was walking along Sixth Avenue when I came face to face with Joe Paterno.  He had won an ESPY the night before.

I looked him in the eye, and said “Joe.”  He stopped.  I introduced myself – “Bud Bilanich, class of ’72.”  He said.  “How are you doing, Bud?”  Our conversation lasted about 10 minutes.  Joe probably used my name at least 10 times in that conversation.  He said things like, “You know Bud…”, and “When was the last time you were in State College Bud?, and “What are you doing in New York Bud?”

I know that he was repeating my name so that he could remember it.  And at the same time, I felt good about the fact that a famous football coach not only took the time to chat with me on a cold windy street corner in New York, he went out of his way to remember and use my name. 

We all like to hear our names.  Successful people know and use this bit of career advice.  Using someone’s name shows that you respect them.  It’s a great way to build relationships – and as you know by now, strong relationships are the key to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.

And that’s the common sense career success coach point here.  Successful people build strong relationships with the people in their lives.  Remembering names is a great way to begin the relationship building process.  People are flattered when you remember their names.  They want to interact with you.  They want to engage with people who take the time to remember their names.  So the next time you meet someone new, follow the career advice in the example of Joe Paterno, the coach with the most wins in big time college football history – remember and use other people’s names.

That’s my take on the career advice on the importance of remembering other people’s names.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.


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