Tips For Remembering Names During an Interview or Networking Event

Tips For Remembering Names During an Interview or Networking Event

If you’re bad with names, you could be in for a big surprise. Remembering names is one of the best ways to network and move your career forward. People who can’t remember names have a distinct disadvantage. They make it seem as if the other person is unimportant and not worth their time. On the other hand, remembering someone’s name makes them feel special and on your level. Fortunately, you don’t need to let your bad memory leave you pointing and shouting, “Hey, you!” With these tips, you can remember names at your next interview or networking event.

Understand Your Motivation

If your brain doesn’t see any motivation to remember a name, it won’t. You need to give yourself some inspiration. When you meet someone, remind yourself that remembering their name could make you richer. Pretend that you will receive a bag full of cash if you remember their name.

Focus on the Person

No matter how boring a conversation might be, focus on the other person. If you have distractions, your brain will need to work harder to remember the name. You could be daydreaming about your next vacation while the recruiter of a company introduces themselves. When you try to remember the name of the recruiter, your brain will only remember the daydreaming.

Repeat the Name of the Person

As soon as you learn someone’s name, repeat it out loud. You need to focus on the name for at least two seconds to remember it. Instead of being awkward about this and sounding like a broken record, simply repeat the name and shake their hand. You might say, “Glad to meet you, Gary.”

Another interesting way to remember and repeat the name is to say that the person reminds you of someone else with the same name. For instance, you could say, “I know a Bob from my college days,” or something to that effect.

Don’t Have an Internal Conversation

When you first meet someone, you might have multiple thoughts running through your head. Are you wondering if you know them or what you’re going to say? By focusing on other things, you could miss the actual name.

As difficult as it may be to keep your voices silent, try to focus on the now. What are they saying? Don’t let your thoughts overshadow theirs. For many people, failing to remember a name is not a question of memory, but one of attention.

Focus on a Feature

Everyone has one facial feature that stands out. When you talk to someone new, pick out a facial feature and focus on it. Look for the most distinguishing feature, like dimples or a nose. Later on, you can use the trait as a metaphorical anchor. The trait might trigger you to remember the conversation and the name.

In the same way that a facial feature can be an anchor, so can another memory. If there’s a person or object that connects with the individual’s name, you can use that as an anchor or tether. For instance, the name Bill might make you think of your favorite television character, or Mary might make you think of a nursery rhyme.

Connect the Name with an Image

If you can connect a name with a certain picture, you might remember the name much better. So, when you first meet someone, take a mental picture and come up with word associations for the name. Consider the following example:

You meet someone named Ms. Bledsoe. To remember the first part of her name, you can think of a bleeding finger. Then, you can remember the last part of the name by imagining sowing seeds in a garden.

This technique works because your brain is better at remembering pictures than it is at remembering names. While you probably can’t remember the name “Bledsoe,” you may be able to recall the imagery. You can also do the same with first names by thinking of images of similar-sounding words. For Paul, you can think of a ball. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Repeat a Name When You Leave

After you meet someone and are done with the conversation, repeat the name one last time. Instead of simply saying, “Goodbye,” say “Goodbye, Cheryl.” The one word can make all the difference and help you remember the name the next time around. When it comes to your memory, repetition is key. You’re much more likely to remember a name when you repeat it at the end of your conversation.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you know you met someone important, practice their name at the end of your day. Long after the interview or networking event, think about the people you met and their names. For the best results, write down the names and job titles of everyone you met. Later on, you can refer back to it to jog your memory.

You can get on social media or LinkedIn and connect with some of the people. In addition to allowing you to communicate with them online, doing so puts your recall in practice mode. It reinforces the names you learned and makes it easier for you to find their names in the future.

Don’t Be Scared to Ask

Even with all these tips, you won’t remember everyone’s name. And no one expects you to. Although remembering names can help you seem more professional, attentive, and enthusiastic, it’s not always going to happen.

When you forget a name, you can try to figure out the answer for yourself. You might be able to go to a co-worker or friend for help. If that doesn’t work, you may be able to find the name of the person online. When all else fails, you can ask the person directly. There’s no shame in forgetting a name, and you have another excuse to connect and have a conversation with the individual.

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