Also published in the Boston Business Journal here.
It happens to the best of us at the worst time. You have just met someone at an event and then two seconds later you have no clue what their name is. Or you see someone walking up to you with an extended hand and smile. You think to yourself: "Uhm, what's their name?"
I have great news for you -- you are not alone. In fact you are probably in the majority.
First, let me allay the fears for you boomers who are terrified of growing old. If you cannot remember where you put your keys, you may simply just have a bad memory -- or maybe you are just disorganized.
Here are some tips:
Ask a question about the name. Even simple names such as "John." I often ask, "Is that with an "h" or without."
Slow down. You can use all the memory tricks in the book. After trying many I finally realized the truth. I am not paying attention. It is unrealistic and unfair to think you can meet many people at the same time, look over their shoulder to see who is there, while trying to think of what you are going to say next. Slow down!
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.
Be cautious about your word association.
Once there was a man who met a woman nicknamed Chip. The man 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!"
Networking skills can be practiced - and receiving feedback on how we present to others can be immensely helpful.
Remember, whom you know may get you started, but how you proceed is the key to long-term success.
Networking for Career Success shows professionals how to enhance their careers through effective networking. It covers everything from basics of networking to targeted techniques for making a career change, funding a new business venture, adding clients, and more.