How to Remember People’s Names

How to Remember People’s Names

“I call everyone ‘Darling’ because I can’t remember their names.”

~ Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress and socialite


Have you ever met someone at a party or networking event who, later that same evening remembered and greeted you by name?  What kind of impression did that make on you?  By paying attention to small details (like your name), they made you feel like a million bucks.  How would you like to be the person who remembers other people’s names?  You can, if you keep in mind the acronym “SHARP”: Shift, Hear, Associate, Repeat, Practice.


  • Shift your mindset. Instead of thinking, “I’m terrible at remembering names” (which may have been true in the past), try this:  “I’m going to remember this person’s name no matter what.”  Actions follow beliefs.
  • Then, be laser-focused on truly hearing a person’s name and internalizing it.



  • To be sure you hear the other person’s name correctly, say it back to him before you say your name during an introduction. For instance, a good exchange would be:  “It’s nice to meet you, Paul.  My name is _______________.”
  • Good networkers ask good questions and allow others a chance to talk. As you get the other person talking, use this time to lock his name in your mind.



  • Say her name silently several times. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa.  Spell it out.  L-I-S-A.  Elongate it.  Leeeeeeeee-sssssssaaaaaaaa.
  • FDR was famous for remembering people’s names by picturing their names spelled out across their foreheads like a nametag.  If the name is hard to spell, sound it out.  Don’t worry, this stuff won’t be on the final.
  • Aim to use his/her name naturally in conversation, but don’t overdo it.  Once or twice is fine, but any more and you start to sound a little creepy.
  • Say her name again as you say goodbye.  “It was nice to meet you, Jasmine.”  Another good time to repeat a name out loud is when someone new joins your group and you make introductions.



  • Associate the name with something specific.  For example, if you meet a guy named Blake, you can associate his name with Shelton, rake, steak, some facial feature, etc.  Take it a step further and anchor his name to an action, too.  Picture Blake raking his yard while a steak is cooking by the lake.  The more vivid you can make a piece of information, the more likely you are to remember it.



  • Immediately after the event, make some notes and practice. Jot down any associations, images, or clues to the person on their business card or your contacts.  Feel free to write a one-sentence description of them, too.  Example: “Jennifer—from LA, friend of Aiden’s, attended UVa, recently married, runner, rather tall.”
  • Refer to the card at least two more times before the week is out.  Practice will help cement her name in your mind.


YOUR TURN: Challenge yourself to follow at least two of the above steps the next time you attend a networking event.  Who knows?  If you remember the right person’s name, it might be good for your bottom line, too.

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