Suzy Welch: Making this common mistake can be a ‘career killer’

Many professionals will probably recognize this situation: You go to a meeting or an event and, assuming that everyone there already knows you, or that you’re playing a minor role, you introduce yourself with your first name — or not at all.

No big deal, right?

Wrong. “I see it happen all the time, and it’s terrible,” bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch tells CNBC Make It. “Your identity is an important piece of information for context in any business situation.”

Welch, a career coach, says it drives her crazy when people fail to say their full names during an introduction. But worse, this blunder could be hindering your professional advancement. “Not stating your full name at the beginning of a business encounter essentially announces, ‘I don’t matter,’ or ‘I lack confidence’ — or both.”

CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch

CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch

Welch says that a failed introduction is not just “first-impression poison,” but “it can be a career killer, because who wants to listen to a person who doesn’t believe in themselves?”

This was first pointed out to her 10 years ago, when bestselling author and financial advisor Suze Orman scolded her for making this mistake during a speech. Welch says that after she left the stage, Orman grabbed her and said, “You didn’t say your name!”

Welch protested that she had been introduced, but Orman said it didn’t matter. “Even when you think people know who you are, say your name — both first and last. Own your name and you own the room.”

She took Orman’s advice to heart. Recently, Welch spent a day coaching MBA students. The event included a Q & A, and Welch says she “watched person after person take the mic and say, ‘Hi, umm, my question is blah blah…'” As each student came forward, she sat there thinking, “Who is going to hire you if you can’t even introduce yourself properly?”

“Please take this advice about your name,” she says. “I promise you’ll see an impact on you and everyone in the room right away — and eventually on your career.”





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