I’m terrible with names. I’ll come out and say that up front. If I meet you every day for a week, I’ll probably remember your name by the end of that time, assuming I’m not meeting a hundred other people at the same time. I may get close, and I may even get it right, but if I do, assume it’s a fluke rather than some particular skill on my part. Needless to say, this makes networking at conventions, where I’ll meet dozens of people in the course of three or four days, a bit difficult.
I’ve come up with some tricks over the years to make up for my shortcoming in the name-association department. First, I participate aggressively in what a friend once called the ‘almost Japanese obsession with business cards’ at conferences. I swap business cards with anyone I exchanged more than ten minutes with at a conference.
I can’t stop there though – If I do, I’ll come home with a stack of business cards that I won’t know as anything but names on cards. It’s tough for me to send a thank you to the people I met at conference, if I cannot remember the circumstances of our meeting. I have a trick, however that helps me keep this from happening. As soon as I get the chance (sometimes even sitting at the table with the person with whom I’ve swapped cards, but typically in my room before bed) I go through the business cards I’ve received. On the back of each one, I write where I met the person and the circumstances of our introduction. If we talked about something in particular, I write that on the card as well. When I come home from the conference, and it’s time to send e-mails to the people I’ve met, I have all the information needed to jog my memory written on the back of each business card.
Of course, saying this, I realized in the middle of RWA10 that I had prevented anyone from doing the same for me. My cards were black, and the back of the card was emblazoned with the cover for Hearts and Minds, making it impossible to take notes anywhere on the card. Ah, well. Point for me to remember in the future.
So, there’s my trick. Do you have any particular tricks you use to remember the people you meet in the swarm of conference faces? I’d love to hear about them. I’m never too old to learn new tricks.