Earlier this year, I was offered the opportunity to meet 50 Alpha Phi women outside of the Delta Epsilon chapter, from all over the United States and Canada. Alpha Phi’s Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI), held in Indianapolis, IN, was a chance to explore my leadership abilities and develop strategies to bring back to my chapter at the University of Iowa. Most of the women I met at ELI also held leadership positions in their own chapters.
In short five days, ELI helped me fall even more in love with Alpha Phi and my chapter, and I learned something important in that time frame, something that I had never realized prior: it’s all about the name.
I was initiated into Alpha Phi in October 2012. The day I left Indianapolis, I promised myself to know every member by her first and last name. Our leader whom I still look up to, Genevieve Evans Taylor (Psi-South Dakota), opened ELI with a segment on names. Little did I know, eight techniques would help me through Fall Formal Recruitment, networking opportunities, and all while strengthening my leadership abilities.
- Look the person dead in the eye and repeat his or her name. This is easier said than done. I consider myself to be very outgoing and have no issue with eye contact, but after learning this technique, I discovered I made excuses to not look someone in the eye. However, it’s one of the simplest things to do and it helps me make the most connections.
- Ask the person to repeat or pronounce his or her name. I’ve met a lot of men and women whose name on paper is difficult to pronounce. It’s shocking how many times I’ve been passively corrected because I’ve been pronouncing a last name wrong. If only everyone’s last night was phonetic.
- Visualize. Vague right? The “word art” all of us 90s kids came to love in middle school really takes the cake. Write it out in your head with your favorite font style or make bubble letters with pink sparkles if you’re feeling girly. Visualizing a name helps you spell and remember that Catie with “C”.
- Use associations. This technique takes some creativity, but it’s possible. If I find myself thinking of something, like a place for example, while meeting someone new; I’m going to remember that person’s name.
- Drill. That’s what I said. If we can do it for midterms, we can do it with names. As crazy as it sounds, notecards help. Now, think notecards sound extreme? I’m not disagreeing with you, but when your future boss has to remind you of the 10 most important people that could change your future sitting in a meeting…you’ll thank the notecards—and me—later.
- Write the name down. Over and over and over. I’m sure by the 100th time you’ll know their full name, hometown, and favorite color.
- Intend to remember. Simple, if you want to remember, remember.
- Admit you just don’t know. Avoiding a person’s name will get you nowhere except awkward. If all else fails, ask, “What’s your name?” When they respond, say, “No, your last name.” Poof! You now have both their first and last name without any awkward “Hey you!” elbow taps.
Anna Kozak is a collegiate member at Delta Epsilon (Iowa). Learn more about Anna by clicking here.