Association leaders meet a lot of people. A LOT. One of the best ways to make a good impression and solidify connections is to be great with names, but more often than not introductions are made with the disclaimer, “I’ll probably ask you again and I apologize… I’m terrible with names.”
If this is you, you’re not alone.
Here are some tricks to help you remember names and make you look like a rock star with those meetings and conferences!
Comic Courtesy: xkcd.com
This one is tough to do sometimes without sounding a little crazy, but repetition works for unlocking the brain. Even adding the name to the handshake and the “nice to meet you” can help you remember a name. Don’t go overboard, though. Anyone would be a little confused if you said, “Hello Sarah! Nice to meet you, Sarah. How are you enjoying the conference so far, Sarah?”
2) Make associations
This is a little trick the MemberClicks CEO Mark Sedgley shared with his team. When you meet someone, pick a unique characteristic about the situation you’re in and link that mentally with the person. For example if you were meeting me and I was wearing distinctive blue earrings, repeat in your mind, “Sarah Blue Earrings” and the next time you see me, even if you don’t remember my name and even if I’m not wearing the earrings you may think, “Oh that’s the girl with the earrings.” And hopefully my name will pop into your head!
We loved making rhymes as a kid for a reason: they’re fun for the brain. Remember silly little rhymes don’t have to make it public- they’re just to help you remember. “Sarah has long hair-a” or “Joe likes snow” can even get sing-songy in your head, and we all know how hard it is to get a song out of your head.
4) If all else fails
Just ask. It won’t be a social A+, but you’re definitely not the only one out there who has issues remembering names. In fact, a little self-deprecating humor here can even clear it up further. Something like, “Here we’ve been talking this whole time and I am so sorry… I just can’t remember your name.” It’s not at all uncommon and it’s better to ask than risk losing a good connection.
5) Business cards
Say all of that doesn’t work, and you still walk away without a name in your head. GET THE CARD AND DO NOT PUT IT AWAY! When you walk away from the conversation, jot a quick note on the back of the card to remind you of the conversation. Chances are you’ll remember the talk and the name is provided for you on the card!
Names are not easy, and it’ll take some practice, but you’ll get there. Don’t write yourself off as “bad with names!” Remember the brain is a muscle. You can train it!