A few nights a week I waitress at a stellar Italian restaurant in Appleton, WI called Carmella’s. (If you’re ever in the area, check it out. It’s phenomenal.) As a courtesy, I always tell people my name, and I am still surprised at how many guests refer to it throughout the meal and personally thank me by name as they leave. I truly appreciate the fact that they listened and made a point to remember.
Remembering people’s names is a simple way to make a positive impression. Whether you are at a business meeting, networking event or meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, the importance of a name doesn’t diminish. We introduce ourselves for a reason—we hope others will remember.
How many times are you at a party or an event, you shake someone’s hands, exchange hellos, and then whisper to your friend later in the night “What was that person’s name again?” Often, we are so focused on making a good first impression that we forget to focus on what the other person is saying. Make an effort to truly engage with that individual, even if it’s just a few seconds of your time.
Here are a few things I do to help remember names:
1. Listen first.
Introductions are extremely important. The person meeting YOU believes theirs is equally important.
2. Ask them a question.
By pairing a name with something unique about the individual, you are much more likely to remember. Give them proper attention.
It may sound odd, but I will often create an alliteration about someone when I’m meeting him or her. For instance, if I am meeting Greg, and he is wearing a green shirt, I will say to myself “Greg in green”. I know, it sounds strange, but it works.
4. Repeat their names back to them.
If Krista introduces herself to you, simply repeat back to her “Nice to meet you, Krista. I’m Cassie.” Combine this with the alliteration method, and you are in the clear.
5. Try to use their name in conversation.
If you can repeat their names back to them once, great. But if you can continue to weave their names into your conversation, even better. Keep it simple with something like: “So, Heather, what does your business do?” However, do not overkill this strategy. Using their name in every sentence will be annoying and sound like a sales pitch.
6. Remember first and last names.
In my opinion, a first and last name together is much more memorable than only a first name. “Michael Jordan” is more memorable than “Michael” alone.
7. Record their contact information.
If you are at a networking event, you will likely exchange business cards, or at least contact information. Keep a stash from all the people you meet and enter them into an database or document when you get home. Here you can also include anything else that helped you identify them, such as where they work, an interesting hobby, a physical characteristic or even an alliteration that you came up with.
Cassie is a May 2009 University of Wisconsin-Madison Ag Journalism graduate. She recently joined SPARK Advertising in Neenah, Wis. as a public relations specialist. Find Cassie on Twitter, BrazenCareerist, and LinkedIn.