“You’re too smart to not remember his name,” are the exact words Harvey Mackay, founder and chairman of a $100 million company and author of six New York Times bestselling books, shared with me prior to a dinner engagement during the annual National Speaker’s Association Conference. His sage advice ringed with truth and reminded me of the power of the name game. I’m hoping you learn from my faux pas.
Background: Earlier in the day I was delighted to be included at an off-site dinner with some incredible speakers and authors. One of the gentlemen, I’ll call him Joe because that’s his name, introduced me to his son in the lounge about a half hour before we were leaving for dinner. While waiting for Joe and his son to show up in the lobby, Harvey asked, “What’s Joe’s son’s name?” I drew a blank to which Harvey responded with the above retort.
Big Fat Excuse: I could say that when I was introduced to Joe’s son I was already juggling two different conversations. You see, I originally went to the lounge to toast a dear friend and colleague’s successful book launch and while there ran into a pack of female speakers I adore. So, here I am with a champagne glass in my hand wanting to focus on my friend’s success when 3 other friends walked in with hugs and laughter. This is right about the same time Joe popped in and introduced his son. I could say I met over 20 new people that day during sessions and was already doing my best to remember names. I could say I’ve reached the age where I’m hormonally challenged. Or I could speak the truth.
Truth: I didn’t invest the time to play the Name Game.
Name Game Rules:
- Dial in. Stop whatever you’re doing and truly focus on who you’re meeting. Listen as if you’re privy to an unknown magical phrase that allows you to eat anything without paying the caloric price.
- Repeat. Use the person’s name as soon as possible. “It’s my pleasure meeting you (Name). I’ve been known to say, “Name, Name, Name” out loud while explaining to the individual it is my memory system.
- Associate. Is there something unusual about the name? I often help people with my name (some struggle) by saying, “Think of a collect phone call.” Do you know someone else with the same name? Perhaps a friend or a famous actor.
- Visualize. If someone shares the same name with another, I see the person I already know while I look at my new acquaintance. If it’s a word picture, I visualize the item with the person. For example, when I met Sita (pronounced Seat-a), I saw her sitting in a chair.
- Record. At a minimum, ask for a card. No card? Pull out one of your own and jot down the person’s name or text yourself the info. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
As an aside, I appreciate Harvey calling me on my stuff. Not only do I respect all his accomplishments, but he’s extremely generous and thoughtful. He was giving me a gift that I’m happy to receive. And by the way, Joe’s son is Brendan.