Remembering Names Is A Big Deal

It is said that the legendary Willie Mays became known as the “Say Hey Kid” because he addressed everyone as “Hey!” since he was not good at recalling names, even of teammates. 

We meet lots of people during the week.  Some we will interact with briefly and may never see again.  Some we will come to know during a negotiation and transaction and may not see for a long time, if ever.  Some we will meet on a regular basis, say at two or three trade shows in a year.  A couple will pop back into our lives five or even ten years down the road. And a very few we will make a connection with and may even like and grow to spend much time together for many years to come.

The trouble is that you cannot know at the moment you meet someone, which category they may fit in.  So assume the person you have just been introduced to will be important either personally or professionally and…. Remember. Their. Name.  It is worth gold to have this skill.

Just think to yourself how pleased you are when someone you haven’t seen recently calls you by name.

Repeat it when you are first introduced.  “Jerry, nice to meet you.” Don’t hesitate to ask them to repeat it if you aren’t sure you heard it correctly.  They won’t mind.

During the meeting or presentation, look around and practice saying each person’s name.  Write each name down arrayed in how they are seated.  Now, when there is a break, make a point of starting a conversation by calling someone by name.  “Pat, that was a quite useful recap of last year’s performance. Thanks.”  And be sure to use their name when it is time to leave.

Your reward will be that the next time you see them, instead of avoiding eye contact because you can’t recall their name, you can walk up confidentially and say:  “Linda, it’s been awhile, how have you been?”  Their respect for you and for your courtesy of calling them by name will long be remembered.  It could mean the difference in whether you get the deal.


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