Dale Carnegie once said “a person’s name is the sweetest sound in the world for him.”

In all my years as a marketer I have managed to avoid networking. It was something I always expected my sales team to do but never felt comfortable with myself. With a change of role and now part of an agency it is something that I have had to embrace and do you know what?….I am a convert.

Networking for me is no longer a theory but an actionable marketing activity, that I have seen get results. I’m still not 100% comfortable with it, I still suffer from nerves but there are so many tricks you can learn to make the process easier. In fact Lara does some great networking training which has done a lot to settle my butterflies but one of my weaknesses is remembering people’s names. With that in mind I thought I would share some of the tips I have found on how to remember names during networking events.

Networking is all about expanding your business contacts, but it’s not so much about selling as building relationships. But how can you build relationships if you have trouble remembering people’s names?
Memorising names during a networking event can help you build rapport with new contacts and makes a good impression.

1. Pay attention. This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but it is easy to get distracted particularly when you are nervous. Listen to the new contact’s name carefully. Focus and blank out other distractions. Try to avoid planning or thinking about what you are going to say next during the conversation, wait until the intros have concluded. Often times people don’t remember names because they are too distracted by their own role in the conversation, rather than focusing on the person they are talking too.

2. Confirm their name. After hearing the new contact’s name, confirm that you have heard it correctly. Verify the name by saying it back to the person. If it is an unusual name, ask the contact to spell it for you or enquire about the name’s history or significance. If you didn’t quite hear their name, ask them to repeat it – don’t be embarrassed, as it will show them you are truly interested in getting to know them. Also, if you haven’t been directly introduced (for example if you’re at an event where people are wearing name tags), then why not ask them what they prefer to be called? So for example, if their badge says ‘Joanna Godden’, ask them whether they prefer being called ‘Jo’ or ‘Joanna’.

3. Repeat the name. Don’t be shy – repeat their name frequently during your conversation as this will help you remember it. By using it three to five times during the conversation, it actually helps commit it to memory. Again, repeat the name to yourself as soon as you have been introduced. You could use phrases like “lovely to meet you, John”, or “John, it was great talking with you – I hope to see you again”. In addition to helping you remember their name, people like hearing their own name – your new contact will feel that you are a warm and genuine person.

4. Create a mental image of the name. Convert the name into an image that helps you remember it. You could connect the person’s name with a famous person; if a contact’s name is Lara, think of Lara Croft. Or connect the person’s name to a visual object that helps you remember it, for example the name Joe might bring up images of coffee cups.

5. Associate the name with the things you learn about the new contact during your conversation. As you talk listen for prompts about work, interests or hobbies that will help you remember the name and try and associate it with the name. You could meet someone called Peter that likes paragliding – Paragliding Peter.

6. Connect the name with your impression. If your new contact doesn’t immediately start talking about their interests you could associate their name with a prominent characteristic. So if they are really giving you the hard sell you could remember them by Pushy David.

7. Mnemonic devices and alliteration are great tools for remembering names during networking events – they can be great fun too. Rhymes work well (if not a bit cheesy), but for example how about “Frank works at the Bank”.
Another fun tool is to use alliteration to help remember a new contact’s name. Create alliteration cues like Sheila from Shoreham or Tina the Trainer to help names stick in your memory.

8. Visualise the person’s name stamped on his forehead. By imaging the name written or stamped on the contact’s forehead, you see the name in your mind, which helps commit it to your memory bank.

9. Write down the name as soon as possible and if it’s not practical pretend by using your finger to trace out the writing movement. Then as soon as you can, write your notes – even if on just a scrap of paper or a napkin.

10. Confidence. Think positively about your ability to remember names and don’t allow yourself to make excuses for forgetting. If you keep telling yourself you are good at remembering names, eventually you will be, and don’t worry if you have forgotten someone’s name, just be honest and say “I’m so sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name”, or alternatively if you just need a memory jogger why not say “remind me of your surname”. Forgetting someone’s surname doesn’t see quite so impolite, and often it will help you remember their full name. Failing that, you can always go and look for their surname on the attendees list.

Not all these tips will work for everyone, but choose the ones that will help you gain the most confidence at networking events. For tips on how to make yourself more memorable at networking events, read our next networking blog here. Alternatively, to gain even more confidence at your next networking event, email us to find out more about Lara’s Networking Training at marketing@consortiumbiz.co.uk.

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