There’s no easy way to admit this, but I am horrible with names.
I shake hands with someone I’ve just met, the person says his or her name, and within 10 seconds I’ve forgotten the name. And since I’ve just started a new job, I am beyond frustrated with my memory problem. Grrrrr.
As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building rapport and maintaining relationship with clients. That can be difficult when you can’t remember the name of the guy sitting next to you at lunch.
Never fear. There are plenty of techniques and tricks from business pros and memory experts to help you remember names. Below is a brief description of some of the most effective tips. As I continue meeting people at my new job, I’ll be using these:
1. Pay attention to the person’s name when it’s said. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to do. Sometimes people introduce themselves and then jump right in and ask a question. You’re busy focusing on the question and not paying attention to the name. Or maybe you’ve been introduced to a big group of people at the same time and you don’t remember who was who. Do your best to register each name.
2. Say the name aloud as soon as possible. Repeat the name to yourself and then use it in a sentence. “It’s nice to meet you, Cindy. What did you need my help with?” Then repeat the name to yourself again. End the conversation by using the name again. “I’ll be looking for that email from you, Cindy.”
3. Comment on the name. This may seem like something George Costanza from “Seinfeld” might do, but finding a way to comment on the name does help. “I have a cousin named Cindy.” “Do you spell Cindy with a ‘y’ or an ‘i’? “Is your last name one word or two?” “What does your last name mean?”
4. Associate the name with something meaningful. If the person’s name is Brian and your brother is named Brian, tie them together. Picture them standing next to each other. Another trick: Associate the person’s name with what they told you about themselves. Peter owns his own PR firm, has two boys, and likes to play soccer.
5. Form a visual association between the face and the name. From the person’s physical appearance, create a mental picture of one thing that stands out and associate that with the name. If Sarah is short, remember short Sarah. David Green has brown eyes.
6. Keep looking at the person’s name tag or business card. As you are speaking, keep the person’s business card in your hand. Glance at the name on the card and at the person, or from the name tag to the person. This will help you associate the face with the name. After the event, write notes about the person on the back of his or her business card.
7. There’s an app for that. If these tips fail, there is an app designed to help you remember names. “Namerick” lets you enter information about the person you just met and it uses mnemonics, keywords, and reminders to keep the name in your brain. Of course, you have to remember to use it.
Ragan readers, how do you remember names?
Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.