Remembering names is a challenge for almost everyone. Remembering the names of all the people you meet at networking events (or anywhere else) is a challenge. Here is a four-step process that works for Dr. Misner.
- Repetition. Ask for the person’s business card. Read it. Read the name out loud and ask the person to repeat it. (This also helps with pronunciation.)
- Use their name in conversation. (More repetition.)
- Connect them with others and use their name when you introduce them.
- Consciously dedicate the person’s name to memory. Look at the business card again after you get home. Remind yourself what the person looked like and what you talked about.
What this whole process amounts to is being present to the situation. When you are with a person, concentrate on that person. And if you reconnect with the person later, your chances of remembering names over a long period of time increases.
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Complete Transcript of Epsode 478 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am doing great. I am actually in Austin, but I am on my way to Toronto, Canada to do a presentation for a good friend of mine for a big event, Raymond Erin. There is a big event every year in Toronto. He invited me to be a keynote speaker there.
That’s great. You will have to tell us how it goes. What are you teaching us today about remembering names?
Well, listen, people always have a difficult time remembering names and I have to say that I do it, too. I, like most people, have difficulty in remembering names. There are a number of things that I do that help me.
I know that there are so many ways to do it, and people talk about various concepts where you hear the person’s name, rhyme it with something else. If it’s a full moon on a Tuesday, then you do some other thing. I mean, I have a hard time with all of the stuff that I have heard, where you envision them wearing something that sounds kind of like their name and that is how you remember. It. I can’t do that. I know some people can.
Are you able to do that stuff?
Well, no, not what you just described. Definitely not.
You know, they try to teach me how to think of someone’s name and think of something that rhymes with it, sounds like it and then remember them from that. That just doesn’t work for me for whatever reason.
So what I would say is if what you have is working for you, then you don’t need this podcast. If what you have isn’t working for you, here is what I do try to remember names more effectively.
You know, when you are networking, it is really important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication, things like making eye contact, listening more than you speak and of course, remembering people’s names. I think it show that you are paying attention if you can remember the individual’s name.
To me, part of that is really about being present in the moment and listening, showing that you are interested in that person and their business. Not just that you are interesting but that you are interested in that person.
It can be really challenging to remember names, especially if you are an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four step process that will help ensure that I don’t forget people’s names. Here are the four steps. They are really simple, but they work reasonably well for me. They work really well for me when I go to an event and I keep these four things in mind.
Sometimes we go to networking events and we don’t plan and say okay, I have to remember to use the four steps to remember names and I find myself not remembering the names. When I think back on these four steps, I always do a better job.
Okay, what are they?
I’ll remember them. The first one is repetition. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card. Read it carefully. Then read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it. It will help to lock the face with the name.
So if I get a card from someone named Betsy Smith. I take the card, I then look at the card , I look at the card and say, “Hi. It’s great to meet you, Betsy.”That’s Betsy, correct?
You know, just get her to pronounce her name. Even if Betsy is an easy name to remember or an easy name to pronounce, get that person to say it.
Number two for repetition, use the name a couple of times. Get them to say their name. Especially if it is a complicated last name. “Could you pronounce that for me?” Then I will ask where did that come from and I will repeat it back to them.
Number two, use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to them and respond by using their name. “Wow, Robert, that really sounds incredible! That sounds like a great opportunity. I would love to sit down and talk more about it over lunch or over coffee.”So use their name in the conversation is number two.
Number three, connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. So if there is anyone else in the circle of people or if you think there is someone else that they need to meet, say, “Let me introduce you to someone else here who I think you might want to meet as well and is a good networking partner of mine.” You are networking, after all, so when introducing the two people, use their first names. “Jill, I would like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet the two of you have a lot to talk about. So try to use that name again in introduction to another person.
Number four is consciously dedicate it to memory so that once you have left the conversation. Hopefully after you have left the networking event and you are back home and you take out that business card and you try to remember what that person looked like and what you are doing by consciously saying to yourself, looking at the card and making the conscious connection between the card and Betsy and the conversation that you had with Jill.
It helps me to remember names more effectively. If I had to categorize more effectively, it would be about being present in the siutation- being fully present. Not being so focused on meeting more people and passing cards and trying to collect as many cards as you can. But being fully present for the situation and doing these four things: repetition, day the name over a couple of times as you meet the person. Use the name in conversation, number two, and connect them with someone else or introduce them to someone else if possible by using their name. And really dedicating it to memory by looking back at the card when you get home, pulling the cards out and making that connection with each of the individuals that you collected cards from.
I also like to write on the back of cards. Normally, you want to ask for permission. We have talked about this in podcasts before. Generally, you want to ask for permission before you write on the back of the card, especially in any Asian culture or community. As a matter of fact, in any Asian culture or community, don’t write on the card. In fact, don’t even ask for permission because they will give it to you, but they believe it is rude as a rule. In any Asian cultures, it is rude to write on a card. Don’t even ask.
But it most certainly, in most countries in North America and Europe, writing on a card is no big deal. I still like to ask for permission. So you write on the card whatever message, “Introduced them to Jill. Touch base with Betsy later to see how the introduction later.” Whatever.
Then all of that helps keep me present to the moment so when I get back to my office to look at it, I go, okay, I remember who this is. I remember who Betsy is. I remember that conversation. Being present for the moment is really the key in these four steps for me.
How long can you remember these names because I know that you meet so many different people in different countries. Do you have trouble coming up with the name later, like a month later?
Yeah, sure I do. I would be fibbing to you if I said that I don’t. But if you follow up with the person, if there is any kind of reconnection afterward like the person reaches out to me or I reach out to them, then the chances of me remembering the person, the person’s name and the conversation are much higher. So reconnecting later, either them with me or me with them, definitely helps.
But you are right. It is difficult. I meet tens of thousands of people every year and it does sometimes get overwhelming. I am really ecstatic if I can get home every night, pull out those cards and remember every person, who they were and what business they were in.
Right. I have one little trick that I use because I can often see a person’s face but then I cannot remember their name and it drives me crazy. Especially if it is from a different era of my life. In other words, if I was involved in a different business or organization or whatever. But if I can come up with the first letter, if I can associate their name with the first letter, if I have forgotten it, I can go back to that letter.
And that works for you.
It has helped me drive the name out of my brain when I needed it.
You know, whatever technique you have that works for you, I recommend that you use it. I would be going through every second letter of the alphabet. KA, KB, I would be going through all of that in my head, but you know, everybody’s brains are different. What works for one person doesn’t work for another.
For me, it is about being fully present and this is how I am fully present when I am meeting people. Hopefully, this will help everyone. Give it a shot. It definitely can work. I remember a few years ago, I was in a room with 25 people. We were going around introducing ourselves and I managed to remember all 25 names in putting this to the test to make sure that I could remember all of the names. It really, really worked and I have been using it ever since.
Okay, well, I will try it and will try to share it with other people and see how it goes.
Alright. That is it for today. Thanks, Priscilla.
Thanks, Ivan. I really appreciate that. That is it for this week, and I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.