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How to remember names so you can network like a champ

Name recognition is not only the one sure way we can easily get someone’s attention but because to remember a name is to be courteous. Here’s how.

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All in a name: Trying to remember what you keep forgetting

Believe me when I tell you that within the context of business, I understand the importance of remembering a name. The only ones I’m any good at are my wife and daughter. After that it all falls apart.

WaPo sums up name recognition as not only the one sure way we can easily get someone’s attention but because remembering a person’s name is always a sign of courtesy. When someone remembers our name after meeting us, we feel respected, not to mention that the individual that remembered our name makes a positive and lasting impression on us. You can hurt someone’s feelings when you not only forget the name but you forget it after hearing it several times. I apparently have hurt quite a few feelings over time.

In a world without nametags

While I was serving in the military it was easy, everyone has a nametag on their uniform with their last name on it. First names didn’t really count. The first thing on my agenda when I become President will be to insist that everyone wears a nametag. Until that happens, here are a few tried-and-true approaches for remembering names:

Make it a commitment. – Write down the individual’s name and something that distinguished them. That may not work at a party but in a business setting you can get away with it. What can you do to learn and remember all those names? At the very least make a mental note. When someone tells you their name, listen and repeat it back to them.

Practice makes perfect– It is okay to say, “Your name is Bob, right?” They will correct you if you are wrong, and will be flattered if you are right. You have to work at it and practice. Ask someone you just met if you’re pronouncing their last name correctly and try to use the name every time you see the person.

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Learn and use first names – Repeating their name in every situation helps you to remember it. Greet people by their name. Go up to them and reintroduce yourself.

Honesty is still the best policy

If all that fails you can never go wrong by being honest. As in – just admit that you forgot the individual’s name. I always go on the assumption that the person or persons I’m talking to forgot my name as well so they appreciate my honesty. I think everyone understands it’s difficult to remember names so I wear the mantle of fall-guy and politely admit that said name slipped my mind or that it’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t think of it.

I also get a lot of mileage out of saying, “I keep wanting to call you Bob, but I know that’s not right.” That doesn’t always work when it’s a female I’m talking to but again; at least I’m being honest.


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Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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