To be a successful networker, it is important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication:
– make and maintain eye contact
– listen more than you speak
– remember people’s names
I’m sure we all agree that remembering someone’s name is high on the list of mannerisms that will impress others at business networking events. It shows that you pay attention to detail, that you are a good listener, and that you are interested in the person, not just their business.
However, it can be challenging to remember names, especially if you are an avid networker who attends many different events. Well, I’ve got good news. Many years ago, I learned about a four-step process to help with the name challenge that really does work.
- REPETITION is key. When you are first introduced to someone, ask them for their business card and then take a moment to carefully read it. Read their name on the card and ask them to repeat it; this helps you connect the face with the name.
“Hi! It’s great to meet you, Jamison Smith. It is pronounced Jamison, yes?”
- Use their name in conversation. At the beginning of a conversation with them, listen to what they are saying and then respond by using their name.
“Wow, Jamison, that sounds like an amazing opportunity! I’d love to meet for lunch and talk with you more.”
- Connect them with other people and say their name. Master networkers know that when you are at a business networking event, it is important to connect people with others in your network.
When you are introducing two people, use their names when they first meet.
“Sara, I’d like you to meet Jamison. Jamison is a realtor who recently got a big contract with the city. I think the two of you may have a lot to talk about.”
- Dedicate it to memory. When you are back home or at the office after the event, review the business card and try to remember what that person looked like and what they were saying and doing. You may want to send a quick “nice to meet you” text or email to help you remember the conversation you had with them.
These tips are very effective to help us better remember people we meet during our business networking activities.
And yet, sometimes it happens – we meet someone and don’t remember them. Or we can’t recall their name or how we first met them. I have observed this happen many times during networking events and I have seen the different ways that people have dealt with not recognizing someone. Some people ‘fake it’ by engaging in a conversation and hoping that they get a clue about who they are talking to. They try to remember where the person is from or how they know them. Others come right out and say, “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.” or “I’m sorry, where do I know you from?”
What NOT To Do
If it happens to you, I recommend that you avoid saying, “I’m sorry, I forgot your name.” or “I don’t remember where you’re from.” I have found that people take it rather personally when you don’t remember them. They might begin to avoid you because you did not recognize them earlier.
Finally, you certainly do not want to say, “Nice to meet you”. Even if you do not remember previously meeting the person, they clearly know you, so it is highly unlikely that you are meeting them for the first time. Nobody wants to be forgotten and it can be hard to build a strong relationship on that type of beginning.
What TO Do
When you forget someone’s name, I recommend that you say “Hi, good to see you.” and then start a simple conversation related to the event you are attending to help you remember them. Starting a dialogue is an effective way to shake up the gray matter in your head to try to remember who they are. If, after conversing for a while, you still are unable to remember, it’s time to stop trying and just move along. Before exiting the conversation, you can say, “It was nice to see you. I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you again next time”.
And my final tip: If you have a name badge, wear it when you attend all business, professional, and networking events. This is a way to help the people you meet easily remember your name. And it is very helpful for others who may be having a temporary challenge remembering YOU.
What are some of your tips to help remember names? Have you had an experience with forgetting, or being forgotten by, someone you previously met? I’d like to hear about it in the comment section.