I think the single most undervalued (and quickly trashed) skill in business today is the ability to remember someone's name. In my experience, 75% of the people I meet tell me straight away that they are not good with names.
I usually reply "One thing's for sure, as longa as you say that you will be."
I read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" when I was about 17 and am now re-listening to it. The book devotes lots of space to the importance of knowing somoene's name. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm good with them.
You can't tell me that it doesn't feel at least uncomfortable when someone knows your name and you don't know his or her name. You also can't tell me that it's not a huge win when you DO remember someone's name.
But like exercise, we know what's good for us yet many of us pass on doing it. Regardless, here's a few of my tips:
- Get out of the I: The toughest part about it is the easiest part about it: Forget yourself for a minute or two. That's what I've found is the key to remembering your name, a genuine interest in who you are. Now this requires for me to GASP! stop talking and thinking about myself, what I want from you, what I need you to think about me, etc.
When I'm in the selfless mode, remembering names is effortless.
- I'm good with names: I've always said I'm good with names and it's helped (even when I make a mistake, I'm still confident). It's like how I never get sick on boats. I've always said I have good sea legs and I've never gotten sick.
- Hand written thank you notes: This one is iron clad. If you meet someone at a business function for example, get their card and find out ONE thing personally about them. Within a few days write a 3 line handwritten thank you note and include a reference to the personal item you talked about.
It's the most powerful way I know of to both be remembered and remember.
From this moment forward, I suggest that you are great with names, it's that simple. It can't hurt to try.