Recently, we discussed the benefits of in-person professional networking groups. But how often have you left a networking event and forgotten the names of the people you made connections with? You might think you have a bad memory for names. But chances are your memory is just fine. It’s your memorizing technique that needs work. Here are 4 tips to help you remember names at your next professional networking event.
Most people are convinced they're bad at remembering names. But according to a study from the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, we may be better at remembering names than faces. So maybe you're not as bad at remembering names as you think you are. And simply believing that you'll remember someone's name can actually help you keep their name in your memory. It may sound silly, but it works. Walk in with the attitude that you will remember people’s names. You’ll be surprised how far a little confidence in yourself can go.
One thing that makes remembering names more difficult is how distracting your own mind can be. It's difficult in a conversation to stay focused on what the other person is actually saying if you're too busy thinking of what you're going to say next. So first and foremost, focus all your attention on the other person and ignore the temptation to think of how to respond. We remember things better if they’re interesting and important to us. So when you meet someone new, make them the important one in the conversation, not yourself. Focus on being interested in them instead of trying to be interesting to them. Once you do that, you'll be amazed at the results. Not only are you more likely to remember the person's name, but you'll also establish rapport.
You probably remember this classic technique from school: If you want to remember something, repeat it. And then repeat it again. As the old saying goes, every time you repeat something, you make another copy of it in your brain. So use the person’s name in the conversation.
Instead of, “Nice to meet you,” use “Nice to meet you, [person’s name].”
It’s subtle but effective. It forces you to focus on their name just long enough to sink in and give you a better chance of remembering it later. Of course, you’ll want to pepper their name throughout the conversation as well. Just don’t do it too much, or it might come across as creepy.
Even with all the memory tricks in the book, chances are you’ll still forget someone’s same at some point. It’s just a fact of life. When it happens, the best thing to do is to own up to it and ask the person for their name again. Sure, their name might come up again later in the conversation, but why take the risk? Tell them honestly and candidly that you forgot their name and ask them what it is again.
It might be embarrassing, but it’s better than calling them by the wrong name or, worse, introducing them to someone else and then standing there drawing a blank. Asking them for their name again shows them you care enough to know about them.
A great way to meet new people and put these tips to work is at a professional networking event. Find a 4BR group near you and start building effective business connections today.