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Tricks to remembering names

June 15, 2018

Tricks to remembering names

There is nothing worse than going along to an event, being introduced to someone new, only to find five minutes into the conversation that you have COMPLETELY forgotten their name! 

True to form; this usually only ever happens when you find yourself enjoying a surprisingly engaging conversation with someone you would like to connect with again; and where it could be perceived as awkward or even rude to re-ask for their name. 

I don't know about you; but this used to happen to me all the time!

As a self-confessed extrovert, I would often simply take the upfront approach; "Please forgive me, could you please tell me your name again". However, I have since found the following tricks extremely effective in overcoming this (very common) problem.

 

Be present!

Ensure that you are alert and actually "in-the-moment" when first receiving this information. Easy ways to do this include:
  • consciously looking and actively listening to the person when they first tell you their name;
  • making eye contact and smiling at the person (and repeating their name in your head);
  • shaking their hand and repeating their name back to them out loud; "Great to meet you [name]. / Nice to meet you [name]."

 

Use their name in conversation

Try using the person's name (in a natural way) at least twice in the next 5 minutes of conversation. For example:

  • What brings you here [name]?
  • What did you get up to today [name]?
  • That’s interesting you say that [name], because…
  • Actually [name], I also…

 

Associate their name with a story

People are much better at recalling stories than they are at recalling facts. For this reason a very effective way to strengthen your quick recall reflex is to associate new information (like a name) with a distinctive characteristic or small story about the new person.

For instance:

  • Kate has brown hair and works as a lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin. She regularly comes to these types of events. 
  • John is wearing a pink shirt, had a rough day, but is happy he now has a glass of champagne.
  • Alice works at Macquarie and hates networking events. She recently got engaged (*lovely ring) and is in the process of planning her wedding for December later this year. 

 

    Make an introduction

    Once you've been talking to this new person for 5-10 minutes or when you wish to exit the conversation, a great way to reinforce your recall is to introduce this new person (using their name) to someone nearby. For instance: 

    • I’d love to introduce you to someone else I met tonight [name].

    followed by...

    • I’ll leave you to get acquainted. Have a great evening.

     

    Named farewells

    The classiest exits I've experienced at functions occur when people remember your name and follow up or make a comment about something you have mentioned earlier on in the interaction. 

    Some easy ways to exit a conversation politely include:

    • I’m going to grab another drink [name], but it was fantastic to meet you. Have a great night.
    • I have to head off now, but I would love to speak some more [name]. Do you have a card I could take with me?
    • I have a few people I need to see tonight and I’ll be in touch about [topic], all the best for tonight [name].  [OR]  It’s been great talking to you [name], but I really need to say hello to a few other people. Hope you enjoy the rest of the event.
    • It was great speaking with you [name]. If I don’t run into you later on, I look forward to crossing paths at another event soon.
    • I don’t want to take up all your time, and I'm sure you have other people you need to catch up with. It was great chatting with you [name].

     

    Remembering someone's name is very powerful. When you are able to remember someone’s name, it demonstrates their importance to you and your genuine interest in who they are and what they do. The ability to do this effectively is a skill I've found integral to creating a great first impression and, often, the foundation to establishing a lasting connection

    Happy networking!

    The Networker Handbag


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