If you're anything like me, this experience will be familiar to you -- you're at a work function or networking event and you've just been introduced to someone who seems really interesting. You think you're focusing and plan to strike up a conversation, but no sooner do you turn away to shake another hand than you completely blank on the person's name. D'oh! This wasn't a big deal when you were just socializing in college, but in business being terrible at names can be a real liability.
The blog of business relationship guru and best-selling author Keith Ferrazzi has had a run of great practical tips for career-related socializing lately, and today the latest in the series addresses the common problem of the remembering names. His five tips aren't fancy but they'll get the job done. Maybe my days of being terrible with names are numbered.
- Make a choice to care. A kind of "first principle" of relationship building applies here. If you make a conscious decision that you are going to remember names, because you care about the people you meet, you will immediately become much better at doing it!
- Picture the name written across their forehead. Think that sounds dumb? It's not. It was a trick used by Franklin Roosevelt and he amazed his staff with how well he remembered names.
- Listen to the name of the person you are being introduced to. If you don't hear the name clearly the first time, ask them to repeat it. Again, this seems obvious, but some of you are so convinced you aren't going to remember that you don't even listen in the first place!
- Repeat the name as soon as possible. You can either repeat it as a confirmation, "Joe, right?" or in conversation, "Nice to meet you, Joe." Either way, say it aloud and look the person in the eyes, too.
- Use word or picture associations to make the person-name combination more memorable. For someone named Joy, picture her with a huge smile on her face, glowing with happiness. Imagine Sandy on a beach. Maybe Mike is singing karaoke. The more unusual the picture, the more memorable. Be creative!