Win the Name Game: How to Remember Names While Networking


Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” 

We are constantly meeting new people, and the task of remembering the names of everyone you meet can seem daunting. But when you meet someone for the second time and can greet them by name– it is one of the best ways to make a favorable impression and build a lasting relationship.  

Here are some tips to help you win at the name game:

  1. Focus – You can only remember a name if you actually hear it.  If you aren’t paying attention, you won’t register the person’s name and you can’t possibly remember it.  Focus on paying attention to the person’s name when you first hear it and forming an impression of that person.  
  2. Repeat – When you hear someone’s name repeat it out loud as soon as possible.  Repeating the name will help engrave it in your memory.  Use it immediately, repeat it to yourself silently, use it occasionally in conversation, comment on it or use it when you leave. 
  • “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jennifer”
  • “What do you think of tonight’s event, Bill?”
  • “It was great to meet you, Stacy.  I hope to see you at the next meeting”
  1. Associate – Try to associate the person’s face with an image, sound or feeling the name suggests. If something doesn’t pop up right away, don’t worry, just by trying to associate the name you are reinforcing it in your memory.  
  • If you favor visual images, try creating an image linking the name to a physical characteristic.

o        Mr. Hill – Imagine a small mountain on his large forehead.

o        Archer – Visualize an archer firing a red arrow into Archer’s red hair.

o        Chuck – Envision a duck sitting on Chuck’s head.

  • If you are more comfortable with sounds, make a rhyme or song lyric associating the name with an observation about the person.

o        Dave needs a shave.

o        Jack has a strong back.

o        Paul likes to play ball.

  • If you prefer sensory feelings to remember, try linking the name to the impression the person gives you or to a reaction you have to the person.

o        Paul Sheck is a pain in the neck.

o        Paula is sweet.

  1. Ask – If you forget someone’s name or aren’t sure on the pronunciation, just ask them.  It is much better to acknowledge your forgetfulness than call them by the wrong name.  Asking shows you care.
  • “I’m sorry I missed your name.  Can you give it to me again?”
  • “I’m sorry, but would you mind spelling your name for me?”

Remembering other people’s names is more than just good manners. It is good business, smart networking and the first step to building successful relationships. Next time you’re out meeting new people, try some of these tips and you will be sure to win at the name game.