Networking Etiquette 101: Remembering Names

My name is Sukhraj. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the easiest name to pronounce or remember.  All too often at networking events, I get blank stares when it comes to me.  My name isn’t as easy as Sally, Beth, or Linda but it’s my name nonetheless. What are you going to do about it?

Most often, when approached with a difficult name or any name at all, people’s first reaction is “Oh, I’m bad with names,” “do you have a nickname that you use?” or “I could never pronounce that.”  However, the name is the starting point to any conversation and often creates the first impression. Imagine what you’re doing for your credibility if you’re telling a potential customer that you can’t be bothered to learn their name.

What’s in a name? Everything. Learning, remembering, and properly pronouncing names shows good manners and smart sales and business sense.  Each individual you meet should be respected and given your undivided attention. When you refer to them by their proper name, you are showing them respect and letting them know you care. This makes for an excellent beginning for any conversation you might have at that given moment or later.

Given that America is the melting pot and we live in a global marketplace, all too often you will encounter a name like mine. Names and pronunciation vary by region and country but don’t let them deter you.  Learn the proper pronunciation instead of making an excuse or asking for a nickname; you will gain respect and win “brownie points.”  If need be, spell it out phonetically. Repetition and seeing the name spelled out can help you memorize it better.

Do you find yourself making excuses when it comes to someone’s name? Do you need help remembering names? Here are a few tips that can help you:

  • When you hear someone’s name repeat it out loud and use it often in the conversation. Append it to the beginning and ending of each conversation: “It was nice to meet you Sally.” “Beth, it was so great to see you.”
  • Associate the name with something they tell you: “Sally is an area manager with XYZ company.” “Beth is sales manager.”
  • If it helps, use a silly phrase to remember their name: “Anna Banana.” “Beth from MacBeth.”
  • If you know your name is hard to pronounce, like myself, be prepared with a phonetic spelling, catch phrase, or a helpful reminder.  I tell everyone my name is pronounced “Su-kuh-raj” or just call me Suki for short.
  • Make notes to yourself and don’t tax your memory. Write the phonetic spelling, catch phrase or any details you can think of on the back of their business card. Constant repetition will help you remember their name, also include a detail of where you met them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help pronouncing a name and constantly having to repeat that name until you get it right.  Learn the story behind the name, the origin, and their background. You never know what you might learn and customers will appreciate the attention you give them.

So what’s in a name? Your next potential customer. Learning, using, properly pronouncing a name goes a long way to building a long lasting relationship and all it takes is a few simple steps. Win the name game to win your way to more than what you thought possible.

Photo courtesy of QuinnAnya

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  • GPS

    With me its become almost a habit when I introduce myself to people, so much so that I never really use my real name anymore. Its always GPS. One nice advantage is that, next time I meet them, they will always remember me, if for nothing other than the interesting conversation my nickname brought up!

  • Sukhraj Beasla

    If you don't mind my asking, what is your real name and how is it pronounced? For a while, people were calling me “Sue” because they couldn't be bothered to say “Sukhraj.” I'm glad you've got a good story with your nickname.

  • GPS

    My name is Gurpreet. Pretty straight forward to pronounce Gur-preet. I think the “rpr” is what throws people off. Of course, once you introduce yourself as GPS, the jokes roll in, and that helps in it registering with all those present.

  • Backlinks

    Keep up the good work. Everyone is opened to there opinion. Excellent blog here, i am still reading :)

  • Backlinks

    Keep up the good work. Everyone is opened to there opinion. Excellent blog here, i am still reading :)

  • Julie

    This is a valuable article on an often overlooked subject. People like to hear their names and feel important. I have to write down names, or I tend to forget them. Sukhraj is an easy name for me to pronounce because I’m from Malaysia. I, on the other hand, changed my name to an American name, in order to make my life easier. I understand what you have to go through because my husband’s Persian name gets slaughtered all the time! So much so that when people ask his name, he just spells it out. If only they took the time to ask how to spell and pronounce his name….

  • Sukhraj Beasla

    Thank you!

  • Sukhraj Beasla

    Even if you write them down that’s your own method of remembering and is a better practice than simply saying “oh, I’m bad with names.” I often go by Suki or if people are bold enough, I’ll go by name.

    I’ve heard this issue so often that I just had to write about it.