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Acing Introductions and Networking -- Four Tips for Remembering People’s Names

Categories: Listening Skills, Building Relationships

One of the most bothersome business blunders is forgetting someone’s name. Mispronouncing a name and getting it entirely wrong are equally cringe-worthy, if not worse, making you want to slink off with your tail between your legs.

Forgetting business contacts’ and co-workers’ names is not just embarrassing, it makes it seem like you don’t care or value the other person at all.

In a sense, we really can’t blame a bad memory for not remembering someone’s name, because we usually forget it within moments of hearing it any way. How many times have you had this happen: “Oh gosh, was his name Jim? John? Joe? I’m sure it started with a J,” only to later discover his name was Bill!

Let’s face it — our memories are really not that bad. The problem is more along the lines of not paying attention at the time we’re first introduced. We don’t realize how many of our own agendas are in place when we meet other people.

When you interact with others – whether at a networking event, or one-on-one in your “normal” workplace -- please, please, please don’t be looking around the room for someone more interesting or more important!

Not only is this the height of rudeness, it absolutely guarantees you will not remember the person’s name. Instead, look him or her in the eye and shake hands. What if this is the very person who will “make” your career? Always assume value whenever you meet someone; this attitude will serve you well.

Since so many people are terrible at remembering names, you’ll really stand out and be appreciated if you make the effort to remember others (and actually succeed).

BRODY is all about helping people succeed, so I’d like to present four tips when making introductions to help your memory. Follow these four tips, and you'll definitely do well at your next business conference or networking event!

  1. Pay attention to the person you are being introduced to, instead of wondering whether or not you are making a good impression, whether or not the person you are meeting might be important, or anything else.
  2. Make a comment or ask a question about the name. ("Is that Leslie with an “ie” or an “ey?" Did you say Mary or Marianne? Oh, my sister’s name is Jodie also!”). Notice how each of these responses repeats the person’s name? This is one of the all-time best ways to remember a name, by using it immediately. That leads us to...
  3. Use the name, as soon as you get the chance. A simple, “Nice to meet you, David” or “What do you do, Sam?” will go a long way to cementing that name with that face in your mind.
  4. Make a mental association, (yes, mental means silently in your head)either with someone else you know, or a famous person. “Jacqueline, like Jacqueline Susann.”

Now that you’ve mastered the whole name remembering thing, have a bit of compassion for those who are still stumbling around in no-name land. Remind them of your name, if you get a sense that they might have forgotten, “Hi, I’m Hope. We met at last year’s annual conference.”

Want to learn more business etiquette and other ways to advance your career? Take a look at my book, Help! Was That a Career-Limiting Move?

Find out more about our communication and relationship management training programs, contact BRODY Professional Development directly at (215) 886-1688.

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