It happens more often than you like: You’re standing there speaking with someone at a cocktail party, networking meeting, conference, convention, etc., and you realize you have no idea what that person’s name is. You’ve been chatting it up, yet, you have no idea who the person is or, worse still, how you might introduce them if you need to. And you’re hoping that doesn’t somehow come up.
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The reality is when you exchanged names during the initial introduction you probably weren’t listening the first time. You didn’t actually forget the name, you simply never processed it. Why? You were on to the next thing – the conversation.
People love it when you remember their names even if they’ve forgotten yours. Better them than you, but here are five techniques to help prevent you from forgetting someone’s name and ways to recover if you do.
Repeat their name back to them when someone introduces themselves to you. “Hello Lenny. My name is Michael. So, what type of work do you do, Lenny?” Repetition gives you a better chance of remembering the name and engaging in a richer conversation. People really do like hearing their own names and will feel a sense of intimacy when someone they meet for the first time is using it.
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I will almost always ask for a clarification in spelling no matter what the name is — even if the name is Joe. It as a way of making the conversation more interesting, gaining clarification, and serves as a memory hook. “Is that John with or without an H?”
If it’s a popular name like John or Ryan (or John Ryan), I’ll clarify the spelling and associate the name with someone I know well that has the same name. Names like John, Ryan, Paul, Jimmy, Tommy, Joe, Brian, and of course Michael make it easy for me to make this type of an association.
If it’s an unusual name like Avish (pronounced a-veesh) I will ask for the spelling, origin of the name, and even its meaning. I imagine people with unusual names deal with this sort of thing all the time. As long as you’re genuinely looking to learn and remember, people appreciate it.
Ask for a business card