I was the worst. Two seconds after meeting somebody for the first time, I forgot their name. They could have been Mark, or Mike, or Mitch, or even Randall…I couldn’t tell you.
This was a problem. Especially for an entrepreneur/sales guy like I was at the time. I needed to connect with people, but greeting them with “hey you” didn’t exactly create connection.
When I would see that same person again, I would remember meeting them, but have no clue what their name was. And of course, I wouldn’t just ask them “Hey, what was your name again?” I would skim over it, “Hey buddy, good to see you again.” “Hey pal”, “Hey dude” …lame.
This led to a lot of awkward situations where I would see somebody but avoid them because I was embarrassed that I didn’t know their name.
My problem was that I was just bad with names. My brain wasn’t wired that way. Nothing I could do.
And then, I learned that my limiting belief about me being bad with names, was actually contributing to me being bad with names.
I also learned that there are some super simple tricks I could use to become awesome with names. So, now I’m a name ninja. I remember everybody. I can confidently walk up to someone I met at a mixer two months ago and say “Hey Ryan, great to see you again!”
It may seem like a small thing, but it has changed how I show up, not just in business, but in life. Not only can I remember everybody’s name, but I can retrain my brain in ways I thought impossible.
Here is a three-step process you can use to lock people’s names into your memory.
1.) Say their name three times in that first meeting.
The more I repeat their name out loud the more it sticks in my mind. So at a minimum, I say their name three times. It sounds like this.
Me: Hi, my name is Jeremiah.
Them: Hi, I’m Travis
Me: Hi Travis (1) good to meet you.
A few moments/minutes later depending on the conversation.
Me: So Travis, (2) how do you know the groom, or So Travis, how long have you been with Citibank?
You get the point, say their name before asking them a question.
At the end of the conversation.
Me: Travis, great meeting you! (3)
2. Anchor their name to somebody or something you already know
As that first conversation is wrapping up, I intentionally make a mental connection between Travis, and a guy named Travis who used to work for me, or Travis Tritt, the country singer that my wife and I used to tear up the dance floor too. The point is to link this new person to someone you already know…That’s called anchoring.
3. Review their names on the way home
The first two steps are really helpful, but it’s this third step that takes my name memory to a whole ‘nother level.
As I’m driving home from a meeting, party, or event I review all the people I met out loud. So, as I’m driving, I will say “Travis. I met Travis. Travis works at Citibank. Travis has known the groom since Kindergarten. I met Travis. Travis Travis Travis.”
It may seem like overkill. But the next time I run into Travis, I won’t stumble around trying to remember his name. I will look like a rockstar. Travis will feel important, and he will like that, and he will like me. Boom goes the dynamite.
Pro Tip. Once you become a name ninja like me, and you see somebody and greet them by their name despite only talking to them once in the elevator 5 weeks ago, reintroduce yourself. “Hey Travis, good to see you. I’m Jeremiah, we met in the elevator 5 weeks ago.” See how I helped Travis not feel awkward about not knowing my name?
With great power comes great responsibility. Use your new skills wisely.
Now, go forth and greet people by name!