Unless you don’t own a television, a computer, read magazines or have functioning eyes, you probably know that a film called The Vow is out today starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. It is about a very in love married couple who get in a horrible car accident where she ends up getting amnesia and forgetting who her husband is. Totally plausible right? Probably not. First of all, who can forget Channing Tatum? And second of all, no. But what is more plausible is forgetting someone’s name in business. A lot of us are meeting so many people everyday or we meet them through email or LinkedIn first that it is extremely hard to keep track. Here are some tips for what to do when you suddenly find yourself with business contact amnesia.
- Introduce Yourself First: You end up in a conversation with this person and you can’t remember their name for the life of you. Take the initiative and reintroduce yourself first. Do this as a courtesy to the other person, who may have also forgotten your name. This is also a nice way to recognize the fact that it’s been awhile since you were first introduced and that you’d like to get reacquainted.
- Introduce Someone Else To Them First: A classic move. If you have a friend by your side, try the approach of introducing him or her to the person whose name you have forgotten. Most likely, they will introduce themselves to your friend and then you still look good.
- Ask them to spell it: If the situation is appropriate, ask the individual how they spell their name. Of course, you may be screwed if their name is Lisa or Bob (been there) but you could act like you honestly don’t know how to spell their names. They may believe you.
- Ask for a business card: Not only will asking for a business card solve the name problem, but you’ll also receive their contact information and an open invitation to get in touch – which can lead to further opportunities!
- Just ask for their name: It can be a last resort but sometimes it is the best one. People are also only human and forget names.
Knowing people’s names can give you an amazing advantage in business. People will be impressed and then remember you but it is a skill you absolutely have to work at. Two things that often help with remembering names are:
- Face Association: Examine a person’s face discreetly when you are introduced. Try to find an unusual feature, whether ears, hairline, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, complexion, etc. Create an association between that characteristic, the face, and the name in your mind. The association may be to link the person with someone else you know with the same name. Alternatively it may be to associate a rhyme or image of the name with the person’s face or defining feature.
- Repetition: When you are introduced, ask for the person to repeat their name. Use the name yourself as often as possible (without becoming John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.) If it is unusual, ask how it is spelled or where it is comes from, and if appropriate, exchange cards. Keep in mind that the more often you hear and see the name, the more likely it is to sink in. Also, after you have left that person’s company, review the name in your mind several times. If you are particularly keen you might decide to write it down and make notes.