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It happens at the worst time …. you’ve just met someone, they told you their name then poof! It’s gone!

Or you’ve known someone for a long time and your brain just freezes.

Here are a few tips ….

  1. Get it right the first time. When someone introduces himself or herself and you haven’t heard their name, simply ask them to repeat it.
  2. Use the name. In the first few sentences, use the person’s name once or twice. Don’t do it too often or it appears pretentious and can quickly become annoying!
  3. Look at their business card. Too often we pop someone’s card into our pocket. Take a look at it, comment about the logo or location while double checking the name.
  4. Ask a question. If you know someone with the same name, ask if there is a relation. Or ask what the derivation of the name is. We have become so politically correct we don’t want to offend anyone; on the other hand we’re willing to walk around mispronouncing someone’s name.
  5. Write the name down. When you are in a meeting and people go around and introduce themselves, write their name in the same order they are seated.
  6. Create a system that works for you. If you remember things visually, mentally write their name down. If you are an auditory person, say it out loud. If you are a kinesthetic learner, write it with your toe in the carpet or imagine it in the sky.
  7. Spell it back. This shows you are genuinely interested in getting it right.
  8. Connect the name to something. If you know someone with the same name, make a note of the connection. For example, I used to work with someone named Susan Fleming –like Ian Fleming who wrote the Bond books.
  9. Slow down. One of the main reasons we forget is that we are going too fast.
  10. Be cautious about your word association. There was someone named Chip and he could not remember the nickname especially since it was for a woman. So he thought of his favorite chip – a chocolate chip cookie. The next time he saw her, he smiled, and said, “Hi Cookie!”
  11. $100 per name. Remember Benjamin Franklin – his face graces the $100 bill. If I promised to give you a $100 bill for each name you remembered, would you try harder? Whatever motivates you to learn names, do it! Really try!
  12. Be human. Forgetting someone’s name happens to all of us. Be realistic. Work on the hints above! Good luck!

About the author 

Diane Darling

Diane is an accidental speaker and author. Her first business (helping airlines and hotels track lost and found) failed after September 11th. Someone asked her to share how she got appointments with senior level executives even though she had never been in business before. That turned into a talk called, "10 Ways to Network Effectively."

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