How To Memorise Names And Other Data At a Networking Event

Les anonymes, par Franck Vervial

You probably know the feeling. You attend to a networking event fully packed of interesting people. You talk to many of them, give them your business card, and collect theirs too.

At the beginning of the event, all the details about the people you met are very clear (if the number is not excessive). However, as the night progresses you start to confuse some details:

  • Was Claire the girl with the curly hair dedicated to shipping apples?
  • Did Maldcom have a business of staples in Manhattan?
  • The guy with the bear is Robert or Richard?

How to avoid having these kind of problems? How to remember those important details in order to take the best from the event the next day or week?

This post will provide you the technique to memorise all that information, and the workout required to master it.

The quick and dirty solution

First, the easy solution to the problem: take notes on the business card of the person.

This solution will solve the problem straight. You ask questions to the person you are talking to and write the answers on the card. Just write the important details. color of hair, type of face, type of business, who is related to…

However, even if the quick solution can work for you in many cases, I can see three potential problems:

  1. Sometimes the person does not have business card with him (yes, that’s incredible to attend a networking event without card but it happens to me a lot!!). What now? You can have a piece of paper with you and take the notes there.
  2. Writing on the card of another person may make him have a bad impression of you. Depending on the person culture he may feel assaulted watching you write down the details on its card.
  3. Even taking those notes, the next day you may feel that don’t remember who’s card was which one (you do not remember to which face corresponds each card)

 

Now for the PRO solution…

The Technique

There are many mnemotecnic methods to help you memorise the names and data. Some of them are assuming that you have a working experience in the techniques and require you to have some mental devices.

In the technique explained here, you will need none of them. Just a little of practise doing visualisations (which you will learn how to do it below).

The technique has several steps:

Step 1: What is your name?

Just after asking this question, you should concentrate yourself on listening the name of the person. You should put all your attention to the name of the person. This is the first mistake that most people do: not paying attention to what the other person says. Most people are just concentrated on the next thing they are going to say. Try to break this habit and pay attention to the name. Just by breaking this habit of not paying attention most people I have worked with experience a 100% rate increase in their ability to remember names.

If you haven’t understood his name for whatever the reason (may be there is noise, or the name is in a strange language) ask kindly to the person to repeat it for you.

Step 2: Repeat his name loud

Repeat his name loud in a sentence that makes sense to the situation. Example of such sentences are:

  • Nice to meet you, <his name>
  • This is the first time that I heard <his name>
  • My best friend’s name is also <his name> !!
  • Is <his name> with an single ‘l’ or double ‘l’?

The idea of this step is to fix in your head his name. By repeating it loud and engaging the name on a meaningful conversation your head with take note of its importance and stick it better. Again, I have found that people using this small trick usually experience another 100% increase in their ability to remember names.

Step 3: Find face particularity

While you repeat his name, determine what is in his face that captures your attention: it may be his bear, the shape of his head, a scar on his face, the glasses he wears, or even his belly. It must be something that really makes a difference for you, the first thing you notice when looking at him. Do not concentrate on clothes because they will change the next time you meet this person. Concentrate in something of the physiognomy of the person.

Step 4: Visualise the name

And this is the step where visualisations get into the picture. In order to remember this person’s name in the close future, you should create an image in your mind that reminds you his name, and mentally attach the image to the face particularity you got on the previous step. The image should be as strange as possible in order to stick into your memory.

How to create the image?

Well, you have a couple of possibilities, depending on the nature of the name:

1- If the name of the person is similar to somebody you know (a friend, a family member, a celebrity) you must generate an image in your mind of the strange feature of the person engaged in some action with the person you already know with that name.

For example, if the newly met person is called George and has a big moustache, I can imagine George’s moustache of the size of a whole person playing cards with George Clooney at the Ocean’s Eleven Casino, and when the moustache wins the game George Clooney gets really mad and throws the whole table up in the air.

The image in your mind should be as vivid as possible in order to stick. Some tips about how to better visualise can be found in this post: Learn to visualise and boost your memory.

2- If the name of the person is in a strange language or you don’t know any other person with that name, then you can use sound similarity to create the visualisation.

First you must decompose the name in as few words as possible that remind you those parts of the name.

For example, if the person is called Abdulah I would break the name in two parts: Abdul and ah. Then I would create a chain of visualisations that link one part of the name with the other. In order to remember Abdul I would visualise Paula Abdul (the singer) that is singing loudly on the scenario. For the rest of the name ah  I would visualize Paula Abdul that at some point in time, after singing, gets a Coke drinks it and then says ‘ah! so fresh!’.

Then, in order to remember the whole name I would check first the main physical characteristic of Abdulah. Let’s say that it is his fat belly. Then I would visualise Abdulah’s belly that sings on a big stage with Paula Abdul. The belly has small arms and helds a mic. After singing a while, Paula Abdul leaves the belly singing and takes a Coke and exclaims ‘ah! So fresh!’.

This technique to remember names ensures that, once you look the the person again, a chain reaction will happen, where the special characteristic of the face will pop up to your mind, and then it will trigger the visualisations associated to that characteristic. And the rest will come providing you with the whole name.

Just by looking to Abdulah, I should be attracted to his belly. This will trigger the image of the belly singing on the stage with Paula, reminding you the first part of the name, and then how she goes to drink the Coke and exclaims ‘ah!’.

Step 5: person’s job or activity

Next thing is to visualise the job or activity of the person. After asking for his name, you may ask him for his activity. That is easy to understand. Hence, once received the answer, generate a new image of the activity and attach it to the previous visualisation.

If George is working as a pizza maker, then you would imagine the moustache of George playing cards with George Clooney, Clooney gets mad, the table flies, and then the moustache takes the table in the air before it touches the ground, with one finger, spins it in the finger, and finally puts it inside an oven.

Step 6: keep visualising other data

You can keep linking data that interests you, increasing the length of the visualisation movie you are creating in your mind. If you are worried about how long could it be before you start to forget things, think again, since this method is virtually infinite (as long as you create vivid visualisations in your mind).

If that is the first time you are faced with visualisations, the technique may look more complex than it is in reality. You will be amazed how well this method works in real life. Just perform the following workouts to train yourself on the technique and you will check how easy it is.

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The Workout

Here is how you are going to train the technique. You need to master the technique before attempting to use it on a networking event, otherwise you will be overwhelmed.

If it is the first time you try visualising it may be a little difficult for you. But do not worry. Everybody can learn to do visualisations. It is just a matter of practice. Hence, here it is your practice. If you are planning to apply this to a networking event, start doing these exercises at a least a week before, every day.

Perform the following workout once every day along a week.

Workout 1: use the web application to train visualisation of data

  • Visit the following page. That page generates random people names with other additional data. For this exercise, concentrate only on the name and the profession.
  • Generate a random person on the page and try to generate the visualisation for his name.
  • Then add to the visualisation, the profession of the person.
  • Repeat this process eight times, and count to amount of time it takes you to do the 8 examples.
  • Write down your result and try to beat it the next time.

Every day of the week, once you have done the previous exercise for that day, continue with the next workout.

Workout 2: using a recorded scene that simulates a real situation

  • What follows is a list of 5 workouts recorded life. For each workout you will find a picture of the face you have to associate the name. There is also an audio file that contains the simulated sequence of interaction between you and that person. Try to memorise as many details as possible and associate all of them to the face of the figure.
  • Perform one of the following exercises, one each day of the week

Simulated workout for Monday
 


 

Simulated workout for Tuesday
 


 

Simulated workout for Wednesday
 

 

Simulated workout for Thursday

 

Simulated workout for Friday

 

On the weekend, perform the following extra workout

Extra workout: Apply the technique to memorise the people that appears on a movie with lots of different characters. Good movies for this purpose are :

  • J.F.K.: contains lots of names of people that participated in the assassination of Kennedy
  • Inside Job: documentary that contains the names of the people that lead to the global crisis of 2007
  • The social network: about how Facebook was created, with lots of names of people that participated in the creation of Facebook.
  • … in general, any other film that you are watching. Every time a name pops up, apply the technique to practice it. You will notice that most of thrillers are now a lot easier to understand…

Conclusion

Now it is time for you to put all this into practice. Perform the workouts for a week at least and then attend to your first networking event (if you don’t have one, just enrol one of the Meetup events near your place).

You will probably perform some mistakes until you get used to this kind of memorisation technique. Do not worry. It takes some time to internalise the method, but once you master it, you will experience the good effect that remembering a name has in people.

 

photo credit: Franck Vervial via photopin cc
photo credit: wallyg via photopin cc

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