HOW many times have you seen a familiar person but just couldn’t recall the name? And how many times were you introduced to a person and forgot the name two seconds later?
Remembering names is a strategic asset and, contrary to popular belief, it is not an innate capability — it can be easily acquired. Every one can remember the names of thousands of people, and work miracles on the personal and business levels.
Sam Walton, the founder of the giant American retail chain Wal-Mart, used to study and memorise the names of employees in each branch’ prior to visiting it.
He was also the first to initiate name tags for sales personnel and service providers, with the business philosophy that customers would feel more comfortable buying from a salesman whom they knew by name.
Mr Walton said: “If you want to succeed in business, remembering names has to be in your highest priority. It is a critical tool for succeeding in business.”
Remembering names helps in a number of ways:
It leads to personal connections and immediate trust;
It creates loyal customers and raises the sales and earnings curve;
It raises motivation and commitment among employees, contributing directly to reducing expenses and increasing personal output to higher efficiency levels, and;
On a personal level, self-confidence grows, embarrassing situations are avoided, and the ability to concentrate is honed.
To remember people you have just met, practise these four stages:
Prior to an event where you are likely to meet new people, be it a convention, tradeshow or social event, you must be aware that you are going to meet new people and that you have to try and remember their names.
When you see the entrance gates of the reception hall or the young hostess welcoming you, develop the habit of reiterating silently: “I am about to enter an event where I’ll meet new, interesting and unique people. I must pay attention to their names and try to remember them.”
Take an interest in each person you meet, and repeat his or her name during the conversation. Ask leading questions and look for common topics of interest. You remember people whom you find interesting.
When you meet someone new and you exchange names, be sure that you have heard and understood the person’s name. If you did not hear it properly, ask them to repeat it. Embarrassing? On the contrary! Your request shows that you have a genuine interest in the person.
When meeting new acquaintances, study their business card for the correct way to spell and pronounce their names. Ask Craig or Ellen how annoying it can be when someone calls them Greg instead of Craig or Helen instead of Ellen. Stressing the correct pronunciation is flattering and generates gratitude that their names really matter to you.
You can link a name to the person with a variety of techniques.
The most well-known and popular technique for remembering names is based on creating associative links between a person’s name and their appearance. If, for example, you just met Richard, who’s wearing an expensive Armani suit and Rolex watch, you can easily associate him as Richard the Rich.
Dr Jim Green is tall and muscular, and exudes machismo. You can play with sound-alikes and change the name Jim to Jeep while imagining him driving a green jeep over someone’s precious green lawn.
Hiroshi Tanaka appears as a confident sales manager at a Japanese telephone company. Does the name Hiroshi create any specific associations? Perhaps Hiroshi reminds you of the word “hero”. And the surname Tanaka? Perhaps a tank? Imagine Hiroshi the hero driving a tank, knocking down telephone poles.
Imprint the name into your long-term memory reservoir using repetition, effective techniques and training programs such as the “Name Recall” software (www.name-recall.com), which can help you instantly recall every person you meet.
Make a personal effort to remember names, compliment those who do and encourage others to do so.