February 17, 2022
Remembering someone's name at a large convention or expo can be difficult. By the end of a long day of meetings and events, people's names can blend together before you get back to the hotel room.
Studies published in the Quarterly Journal of Psychology suggest we can more easily recognize someone's face than someone's name. The reason: Our brains are better equipped to store visual data like a picture of someone's face.
Not everyone learns (or listens) the same way. Find a method that works best. Then make the most of business networking at the next Natural Products Expo.
1. Take a photo of the business card.
If you are likely to forget a name or lose a business card, take a picture of the business card and email it with a quick note about the person to yourself.
Scan the business card by using an app like CamCard or BizConnect.
2. Write down notes.
Use apps like Evernote, Joplin, Trello, Google Keep, Microsoft OneNote and Apple Notes to take digital notes.
Others might want to try Otter.ai, a speech-to-text recording app—and a tool used by many reporters—that transcribes what is being spoken. (Just be sure to disclose you are recording.) But it can help you remember names when listening to panel discussions and large presentations at an expo, as well.
Or go old school and use a pocket-sized notebook to physically jot down notes. The muscle memory it takes to write everything by hand will help, researchers found in a published study, The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614524581
3. Make a genuine connection.
Don't just say hello and end things there, says Blake Bennett, junior owner of Bennett Packaging.
"Have a conversation with the person to get to know them a bit," Bennett says, to associate the information you've learned with a connection. Just as important, pay attention. Actively listening and staying present in the conversation will help.
If you're easily distracted, use the technique of paraphrasing and repeating back what was just said: "So if I heard you correctly, you're saying…"
Using this technique will show the person you were actively listening and re-confirm that what you thought you heard is what was actually spoken.
4. Repeatedly use the person's name.
Actively saying someone's name can help ingrain it to memory. For example, if someone comes up and introduces herself as Jane, respond by saying, "Hi, Jane. It's nice to meet you," says Alex Mastin, founder and CEO of Home Grounds.
Grant Aldrich, the founder and CEO of OnlineDegree.com takes it a step further.
"Remembering names is hard, especially when you see so many people," Aldrich says. "However, the brain is much more likely to remember things when they're repeated seven times. To make sure they're cemented in your head, repeat the names at least five times in conversation."
5. Use wordplay, mnemonics.
Clues can help trigger your short-term memory. Mnemonics—memory tools and techniques—help you remember more easily.
Use keywords, letter strategies with acronyms like T.G.I.F. to remember a longer saying like Thank Goodness It's Friday.
This can also be used as a memory hack by linking an attribute, a quality or feature of the person to their name, such as "Cheerful Chris" or "Helpful Heather." Using a first name and something about a person's booth or employer can help, says Tyler Crossno, a creative production assistant at Revel Energy.
For example, there's a booth with a smiling person named Nathan Smith who works at an environmental supply company, so he's remembered as "Natural Nathan," Crossno says.
6. Think of familiar associations.
Rachel Blank, the founder and CEO of Allara likes to think of someone she already knows.
"One of the ways I remember names is by associating them with other people I know who have the same name. I'll think, 'I'll remember her because I have an aunt named Kathy,'" Blank says. She also keeps her phone handy to quickly type in names and a few details into her notes app.
7. Connect on LinkedIn.
After meeting someone, don't let the connection get away. To quickly connect a face with a name, find the person on LinkedIn.
"I sometimes go ahead and connect with people via LinkedIn on the spot, which helps me to remember names and faces while expanding my professional network," Blank says.
8. Create a new contact in your phone.
The same goes for adding the person into a phone: Don't wait.
Create a new contact in your smartphone with a few details about the conversation, such as the person's occupation, location of where you met or the names of their children, says David Aylor founder and CEO of David Aylor Law Offices in South Carolina.
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