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Career Coach: The Name of the Game

What's in a name? Everything according to the Career Coach, Pamela Kleibrink Thompson. From making sure yours is known to learning others, the name game is an important one to play.

What's in a name? Everything!

Put your name on everything. When you apply for a job, your resume, reel, reel breakdown, outside of your portfolio, and portfolio contents should all have your name and contact information on them. Your resume may get separated from your other material so it is essential that all your materials have your name on them. If a prospective employer sees a reel he likes, make sure he knows who did it.

State your full name on your answering machine's outgoing message. Don't make the caller guess whether she's reached you or not.

Leave your name when you phone, leave messages by email, fax or other means. Identify yourself with your first and last name and leave your contact info if you want your message returned. Don't expect someone to recognize your voice, even if it is someone you have spoken with on numerous occasions. It is a courtesy to the person you called, it's professional, and mentioning your name makes the person you called think he should know who you are.

Be a Name Collector

Networking will help you hear about opportunities, but you also have to get your name out there.

Don't keep your name a secret at meetings or events. Introduce yourself to speakers and fellow audience members. If your fellow networker does not reciprocate, ask his or her name. Use it immediately and several times in your conversation so you remember it.

Forget a name? Don't be embarrassed to admit it. Introduce yourself and say, "I'm sorry I forgot your name." In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie reminds us that, "A person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language."

When you introduce yourself, give some information about yourself as well. Provide a springboard for conversation. Prepare a brief introduction (90 seconds or less), which highlights what makes you special. This is like a log line in the TV Guide why that person should get to know you. You might include what you do, what you specialize in and your special strengths and skills, your passions and what you've worked on and who you've worked with. Basically it's a personal ad of what you offer what makes you unique.

As you meet other people at the event, introduce your new contacts to each other. People appreciate being introduced. Your friendliness will make you stand out and everyone will think you're so well connected.

At the end of the meeting, address the people you met by their names and tell them you enjoyed meeting them. Exchange contact info with them.

When you follow up with your new contacts in a few days, it will be easier for you to remember names and faces as well.

Your name is the most important feature of your business card. Hand out your business card and try to get one in return. If your company doesn't provide business cards, make them yourself. When you receive a business card, repeat the name of the person who gives it to you.

You're often on a first-name basis with colleagues, but remember to treat assistants as well as you treat their bosses. Learn their names and greet them by name in person or on the phone.

Keep track of names in your database. Stay in touch with your contacts. The more you know about them and the work they do, the more interested they will be in you and the work you do.

Make Your Name Stand Out

Another place to use names is on personal notes to the people you've met at an event or meeting. Very few people spend the time to do this and your name will be remembered if you do.

Protect your name. Build your reputation as someone who can be trusted, delivers work when promised and is easy to work with. At a recent SIGGRAPH meeting, Frank Gladstone, head of artistic development, DreamWorks SKG Animation, noted that your first break will come because of the work on your reel. But the jobs that follow will be because people liked working with you. Be sure when your name comes up, it is in a positive way.

Promote your name by becoming an expert. Write a bio and a short letter about the project you are working on and your role on it. Send it to trade publications, alumni newsletters or hometown newspapers, and state your availability for interviews. Throw your name in the ring whenever volunteers are sought for speaking engagements.

Follow these suggestions and you're sure to make a name for yourself.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1982. 276 pages. ISBN 0-6717-2365-0 (US$7.50)

ACM/SIGGRAPH, Association for Computing Machinery, Special Interest Group on Graphics: reachable at

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist and career coach. Her clients include Disney, Fox, Framestore, Macromedia and Digital Domain. You may have seen her speaking at SIGGRAPH, Women in Animation or VES (Visual Effects Society) events. If you didn't introduce yourself, shame on you.