Remember Their Name – The “How To”

This week is a guest post from Bob Fenner. I met Bob several years ago when he was a student at Ohio University. He hosted the table where I was sitting with coworkers while attending the annual Sales Symposium put on by students from the Sales Centre.

Upon graduating Bob relocated to Silicon Valley to pursue a career in IT Sales with two suitcases and a positive attitude. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he moved to California without any friends or family in the area and has been able to meet some incredible people along the way. He started his career in Inside Sales at Data Domain, now an EMC company, in the computer hardware industry.

He currently works for Merced Systems in Redwood City, California. Merced is the leading provider of Sales & Service Performance Management solutions. Bob started with Merced Systems this past August and is currently focused on building the Inside Sales team while maintaining responsibility for supporting regional sales teams in the Western US. Both are daunting tasks considering Merced Systems was recently named to the “Top 100 Fastest Growing Software Companies” by Inc. Magazine and to the ”500 Fastest Growing Technology Companies” in the US by Deloitte.

One of Bob’s favorite parts of living in California is exploring the surrounding areas including San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Wine Country, and the coast. He also told me he likes the fact that the weather is a little better than Ohio. Bob recently started as an Assistant Wrestling Coach at a local high school in California.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”

Remember Their Name – The “How To”

In Brian’s previous post, A Rose by Any Other Name, he writes that “names in fact do matter” and I am convinced that remembering names is a critical piece to building a successful network. I believe it is even more important to remember a person’s name the second time you run into them.

After reading Brian’s post, I began to think of how often I hear people say, “I am terrible at remembering names!” Here are a few tips I use to remember names during a first encounter in a professional setting:

  • Always repeat a person’s name when you first meet them to make sure you have it correct
  • Use their name throughout the conversation
  • Exchange business cards after a meaningful conversation

Take notes on the back of their business card on a few key points from your conversation (i.e., Steelers fan, wife and 1 daughter, handles sales training at State Auto)

Here are a few tips I use to remember names after I meet potential business connections:

  • Send them a follow up email – let me guess, you don’t know their email and are kicking yourself for not getting their business card. In my experience, 90% of people I connect with have emails with one of following aliases –,, or
  • Keep the email short and to the point. I like to mention it was great to meet them; I enjoyed hearing about a certain aspect in our conversation, and ask them to commit to a next step
  • Send it as soon as you have email access – do not wait to send your follow up email days or weeks later

My mother used to force me to write “Thank You” notes to every family member I ever received a gift from and I used to hate it. Now I want to say “Thank You” to her for forcing such a good habit that has paid off for me so far in my business career.

Follow up emails are a key to remembering a contact’s name and showing them you sincerely enjoyed meeting them. As Keith Ferrazzi, in his book Never Eat Alone, in the chapter “Follow Up or Fail,” writes, “The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95% of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit.”

  • Add the person on LinkedIn after meeting them with a personal message. If I can’t instantly match a category we have in common for connecting, I select “Friend” or “Other” and enter the work email address

Here are tips for when you see the person again:

  • I always introduce my full name when I see someone for the second time to cover for people who haven’t done their homework
  • If all of my tips have still not led me to remember the name, I will inconspicuously ask other people in the room what their name is before we greet again
  • I greet them with a big smile, firm handshake, and say “Hi Brian, Bob Fenner, it is great to see you again! How is your family doing?”

I hope these tips serve you well and help you become better at remembering names. Don’t forget, “The sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name.”

Bob Fenner

2 replies
  1. Kennon Fort
    Kennon Fort says:

    Excellent! Wow! I am pleased to find this… I developed a mindset to AVOID being like so many who say, "I'm not good with remembering names." When I was in Boy Scouts, I made it a point to learn EVERYONE's names in my Troop on our trip to the World Jamboree. Glad I got into the habit as a teen!


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