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Four Tips To Help You Remember Names While You Network

December 9, 2013
From Loan Officer John Hendley

From Loan Officer John Hendley

Holiday events give you the opportunity to network with many people you don’t see often throughout the year. Family, neighbors, past customers, and vendor partners are just a few of the groups you may mingle with. But what happens when you don’t remember their names? How can you maximize the effectiveness of your conversations without that vital information? And how can you make the most of new introductions so you can grow new client relationships in 2014?

Here are four ideas. Use the strategy that’s most effective for you or use a combination of all four!

Focus on what they are saying – not what you want to say. It’s amazing how much easier it is to remember a name when you make it the goal of your conversation. For the first few minutes, focus on learning the person’s name, what they do, and how they are connected with the event. Once you know those three things and cement them into your mind, you can relax and think more about what you want to say.

Use their name during the conversation. This tried-and-true suggestion really works. There are many creative ways to do it while also creating an association in your mind. Is the person’s name the same as someone else you know? “Oh, that’s my daughter’s name, so I should remember it!”  Is it an unusual name? “That’s beautiful – how do you spell that?”  Is it a formal name that might have a nickname? “Do you go by Katherine or Kate?”  By spending time talking about the name, you give yourself added information that can help trigger your memory in the future.

Ask again right away if you missed it. There are some things that have a short window. One is asking new acquaintances to repeat their names. That’s generally fine in the first conversation as you exchange a wealth of new information about each other. However, if you have to ask their name again at a later meeting, it implies you didn’t pay enough attention the first time or they did not make an impression on you. So, ask. “I’m sorry, but I struggle with names. Can you tell me yours again?  Chances are your new friend will actually welcome the opportunity to ask you for yours again, too!

Visualize an image. Your brain sifts through all of the sensory inputs it receives to discard extraneous stimuli and store meaningful, patterned information. That’s why you may not “feel” the carpet under your socks or “hear” the television unless you think about it. By associating the name with a visual image, you are giving it order, something that helps your brain retain it. Add something unique, humorous or unusual to your image, and retention is even more likely. For example, imagine the person in a marching band carrying a sign with their name on it.

If you absolutely can’t remember someone’s name, ask for a business card and explain that you are updating all of your files for 2014.


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