There was a powerful scene in the fifth season of AMC’s award winning show, “Breaking Bad”. In it, Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg, a high school chemistry teacher turned master meth cook and drug lord) offers a potential drug distributor a percent of his risky business. What unfolds is a highly unconventional business dialogue, with far more tension than your typical distribution agreement or salary negotiation.
The episode is entitled “Say My Name.” It’s worth taking the two minutes to watch the scene included above but for our purposes, I’ll summarize. After offering to cut the drug distributor in for a mere 35% of Walter’s growing enterprise, the scene unfolds as follows:
Drug distributor: “Who the hell are you?”
Walter White: “You know… you all know exactly who I am.”
Drug distributor: “Do what… I, I don’t have a damn clue who the hell you are.”
Walter gives the distributor some background of his nefarious activities and the distributor realizes who he’s dealing with.
Walter White: “That’s right… now, say my name. “
I thought of this episode when I was speaking with a client who had texted a former colleague and received a curt text reply along the lines of, “Who the hell are you?” The former colleague went on to say “I’m not in the habit of memorizing phone numbers.”
We’ve all done this before. I know I have, texted someone forgetting that you might not be in their contact list and the recipient had no clue who you were. In fact, this just happened to me this past week with a dear friend, my name wasn’t listed among his contacts and he didn’t recognize my phone number. Once he knew who I was, our communication improved dramatically.
This is important to remember as you’re reaching out to people and networking in your efforts to make a career transition or build relationships. Remember to identify yourself in the text, in other words, “Say your name!”