As the founder of a company called guesterly designed to help you meet new people at events, I get asked about the best way to remember names—a lot! Whether you’re at a wedding or a networking happy hour, here are the tips that can help you walk into a room, meet someone great and remember their name—both immediately and down the road.
1. Say their name…a lot
As soon as you’re told a name, say it as many times as you can. It might feel a little silly, but it works. Simply use it to start a few sentences: “Sara, you will not believe what he did next!” If you feel awkward, you can even let your new friend in on why you’re saying their name so often. For example: “I really like what you’re doing and want to make sure I remember your name, Sara. I’ve heard that if you say a name a number of times you’ll remember a name better—what do you think?”
2. Ask them about their name
A story about how the name came to be, like that their last name is a Quaker name that was first used in Virginia in 1690, can go a long way toward helping you remember it. Plus, you’ve now started a conversation. You can also ask about unusual spellings or what version of a name they use. For example, asking: “Is that Rachel with an ‘e’ or Rachael with an ‘a’?” can help implant that name on your brain.
3. Write it down
Whenever you meet a new person, take a few moments to write down their name. I’ll even pull out my phone and send myself an email before heading home from an event so I have the names I want to remember ready when I’m back at my computer. Then you’ll be able to connect on social media the next day, and voila: You’ve been reminded of their name several times and will now also see it pop up in your feeds—so you’ll be much more likely to remember it. As a bonus, you’ll also have a more established connection with them.
4. Talk about their life
Don’t forget to have a great conversation. That way, even if you forget the person’s name, you’ll still remember talking about that time they went cliff diving in Aruba. And you can lead with that when you see them next. Better yet: Associate their life story with their name. For example, Amy cliff dives in Aruba, and she becomes Aruba Amy. Now her name is much easier to remember.