Acing the Name Game: Tips and Tricks to Make a Good First Impression



Sep. 3 2014, Published 7:49 a.m. ET

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Networking is vital in today’s society. Ask any successful individual and they will agree wholeheartedly that your path will be greatly influenced more by who you know rather than what you know. In a way, that is a comforting thought. You just have to get yourself out there and talk to new, interesting people to reach your goals. However, it also puts a lot of pressure on things like first impressions.

There are conflicting statistics on how fast first impressions are. Some say a tenth of a second, while others say seven seconds flat. Either way you look at it, you really don’t have much time. Make the most out of your time by learning your potential contact’s name.

Learning someone’s name makes them feel like you care and are interested in them. Business Insider wrote an article saying that the likelihood of a response to marketing materials goes up 36% if you address potential customers personally. If a simple name can make a person more likely to buy something, think of the power it has when you aren’t selling anything!

With that being said, some people may feel at a loss. Names can be difficult to remember! Read on to learn some tips and tricks to get names etched into your brain so you can really ace that first impression!

1. Take care of yourself.

Ask Ron White, two-time U.S. Memory Champion, what he does to prepare his memory and he might list off some brain foods. These brain foods include blueberries, apples, and spinach. Sleep and are also very important as both keep your mind sharp and focused. These things may seem obvious, but they really do impact your ability to retain information!

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2. Focus.

There is no excuse for forgetting a name thirty seconds after you hear it. A majority of the time people forget names because they aren’t focused on the person they are talking to. When making introductions, make a point to engrave that person’s name into your head. It might help to repeat the name immediately after learning it and use it during the conversation. You have to try— make an effort!

3. Make connections.

You know that you have met seven Adam’s in your lifetime. So, next time, when you meet a new Adam, why not try to connect them together? How you do that is up to you.

Connect with mental pictures

Picturing someone you already know next to the face of your new acquaintance is a common way to link names. This is a good option for people who tend to remember information when it is presented visually.

Connect by noticing similar physical features

Some people have stellar, captivating eyes or uncommonly voluptuous hair. Notice these unique features and think of someone you know that has a similar characteristic. For example, if your new acquaintance, Angelina, has a prominent lips, you could connect her with Angelina Jolie because both share similar features.

Connect by interests

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If your sister, Molly, has a love for astronomy and so does your new contact, Molly, you have a recipe for great name memorization! You may find this to be the most effective way to network since you are not only getting a name, but you are also digging deeper for more information.

4. Experiment

It is important to realize that not all name memorizing methods are treated equal. You will have to experiment with name memorizing practices that work best for you. Come up with your own tricks. Recently, I memorized some names by asking each person to tell me the most random fact they could think of. I learned that a giraffe’s tongue is about as long as a ferret (roughly 20 inches); I also learned that Keisha worked for a zoo for a good portion of her life. Embrace experimentation!

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5. Practice

If you have the means to do so, practicing names is a fantastic thing to do for memory retention. Think of it this way— in class you learned a concept, practiced it, studied it, and took a test on it. If practicing with the periodic tables of elements helped it stick, some names should be a cinch! Social media could be your best friend for this. With all the black, bolded names next to profile pictures, you will be remembering names in no time.

6. Accept Defeat

“Accepting defeat” may be a little melodramatic, but the message is still the same. Sometimes you will mess up and forget a name. Or, you will call someone the completely wrong name. That is okay! Laugh it off and ask for the person’s name again. Because if there is one thing that you should remember if you can’t remember a name it is that we are all human!

Now go out there and meet some new people!

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