I don’t have a great memory. In fact, I jokingly tell people I don’t remember anything longer than two weeks ago.
Normally this isn’t a major problem because I write down things I have to remember (assuming I remember to look at the list).
All this is preamble to what I consider the most embarrassing question in networking: “What is your name again?”
Let me explain.
I attend several networking meetings monthly, and it’s not unusual for someone to come up to me and say “Hey, how’s it going?” It’s obvious they know me…but I don’t remember them.
Or I’ll walk up to someone and introduce myself, and they’ll look at me strangely before informing me “I know. We met last month.”
Or someone will come up to me and say, “You remember Angela don’t you?”
No, I don’t.
Talk about being red-faced.
How to remember people’s names
There is a formula for remembering names, of course.
As I recall (and don’t quote me on this), the sequence is:
- Hear their name.
- Repeat their name immediately.
- Use their name a couple of times in conversation.
This may work short term, but by the end of the evening—or surely by next month—I’ll forget it.
It gets worse. I don’t remember faces either.
A better solution
One of the saving graces about networking is people wear name tags. I think name tags are the greatest invention since the magnetic key holder.
My proposal—and I freely admit others thought of this first, though I can’t remember who—is everyone should always wear name tags: at work, at the store, at the beach, everywhere (except bed maybe; I’m not sure yet).
Or we can take a page out of football’s book and wear our names on our backs. This would have the delightful side benefit of creating jobs for people who do the sewing. The flaw in this idea, of course, is you can’t identify anybody who’s walking towards you.
To remedy that, what if we had our names embroidered on our shirts in lieu of the polo players and lizards?
People with photographic memories
There are, as you know, individuals who remember the names of hundreds of people.
I suggest they rent themselves out at large networking functions, conventions, etc., standing behind you and discretely whispering in your ear, “That’s Joe Cool, president of Cool Corp. and his wife Lucinda.”
Since none of the above is about to happen, I ask your forbearance. When I approach you with a blank look on my face, take pity and say, “Hello, I’m Angelina Jolie.” With my memory, I won’t realize you’re kidding.
What tricks do you use for remembering names?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. At least he thinks that’s his name. If you want positive recognition for your company, products and services, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.