Wisdom for Work

Avoid Awkward: How to Remember Someone’s Name When Networking

remember someone's name

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve just been introduced to someone new and after only a few seconds, or minutes, you cannot, for the life of you, remember their name?

Embarrassing isn’t it? Not to worry. It happens to everyone sooner or later, especially when networking.

Remembering someone’s name, when you’ve only just met, comes across as conveying attention, care and respect.

Here are some quick tips on what you can do to try to remember people’s names when meeting them.

  1. Repeat back – As they’re introduced to you, say their name back to them out loud and repeat. For example: “John? Hi there John, I’m Mary.” This has the effect of reinforcing the name by repeating it, and by saying it out loud. The added sensory input (i.e. sound) will help your brain remember.
  2. Use often – Use their name soon after being introduced. For example, “So, John, what role do you have in the Firm?” Apart from helping you to show interest in them as a person, this again reinforces their name in your mind. Reinforcement helps memory. However, don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll convey false interest.
  3. Association – Try linking their name to something obvious about them that has the same sound as their first letter. For example ‘John with the jaw’ or ‘Wayne with the white hair’ or whatever you notice. Of course, you only say this to yourself in your mind! It’s called association and, again, tends to help us remember things more easily.
  4. Write it down – A trick I learned years ago, when I was a radio announcer interviewing guests, was to write their name down immediately. If you’re holding some papers, say at the start of a sit-down meeting, jot their name down. The act of doing so shows care rather than forgetfulness. The physical act of writing also reinforces the name in your mind.

And what if you forget anyway?

Be upfront about it. “I’m sorry, can you give me your name again?”

Then repeat a version of #1 and #2 above!


Do you have any other ideas for easily remembering the names of people you’ve just met? Leave me your comments here.

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