What to do when you forget someone’s name


I once had a friend who had an almost uncanny ability to remember people’s names. It allowed him to build a large network of contacts and a very successful business.

We did a lot of networking together so I got to watch him in action. Like the rest of us, he would often forget the name of someone he had just been introduced to, but soon thereafter, he was introducing his new contact, by name, to others in the room. How did he do it? He did it by getting his ego out of the way and simply asking his new contact to “tell me your name again,” sometimes two or three times before he had it.

Most of us are too embarrassed to admit we forgot a person’s name so we skirt around it. Not my friend. He felt it was vital to know and use people’s names and he was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish that.

Time and time again I’d watch him ask people to repeat their name. Even with people he supposedly knew for a long time. Sometimes he’d tell them he had a poor memory and if they say their name again it will help him remember. He was genuine and easy going about it. I think most of them appreciated that he cared enough to ask.

My ego is too fragile, I’m afraid. I’d rather rely on tricks. I’ll give you my favorite: only network where everyone wears a name tag.

How about you? What do you do to remember names? What do you do when you forget?

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  1. I ask the person if they know such and such (someone else in the room whose name I already know). Then they introduce themselves to each other.

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