What’s in a name? A lot. Your name and how you use your name influences how you are perceived. And like it or not, perception is everything. In a fast and information-overloaded world, people make conclusions quickly and can overlook your value if you don’t present yourself properly.
You have the opportunity to share information about yourself that can increase your influence and gain the respect you deserve. Here are four easy ways you can leverage your name and advance your career:
1. Say your first and last names.
Whether you are introducing yourself in-person or by phone or signing-off on an email or letter, use your first and last names. Using both names establishes a formal, professional tone and can project gravitas. Use your name to show you are serious and make people pay attention to what you have to say.
2. Include your middle initial.
Research from the European Journal of Social Psychology found that using your middle initial increases people’s perceptions of your intellectual capacity, performance and status. When you are writing an article, memo or letter, use your middle initial. You can also include your middle initial in your e-signature.
3. Use your title.
Dr. Julia W. Baird, an Australian journalist, recently wrote in the New York Times that women report that they are called professor less than male counterparts, and research shows female physicians are called doctor less often than men. If you have an advanced degree, use it to show your authority.
Include your degree (e.g., PhD, JD, MD or MPA) with your name in a letter or in your e-signature. Use your title when you introduce yourself. For example, say “I’m Doctor [Full Name].” Or say “I’m Professor [Full Name].” You worked hard for that degree. Let your degree work for you. Let people know your level of expertise.
Dr. Baird says, “Sometimes authority should be worn lightly,” like in non-business situations. “But sometimes it should be brandished like a torch,” she goes on to say. Be proud to show your authority.
4. Let people call you by your last name.
Research shows that referring to someone only by their surname makes people believe the person is more important. “This sort of judgment could result in more recognition, awards, funding and other career benefits,” wrote the researchers in their paper, “How Gender Determines the Way We Speak About Professionals” published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research also reveals that men are more likely than women to be called by their last name, which can contribute to gender inequality. To facilitate the opportunity to receive similar career benefits, allow others to call you by your last name.
When it comes to your name and title, use it or lose it. Be intentional about using your middle and last names, as well as your title. Make your name work for you to position you for success.