Networking Name Game: What To Do When You Forget Names

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Posted by The Editors on June 28, 2012
Networking is a constant these days and if you’re currently job searching, networking can take up a huge chunk of time.  So it’s perfectly understandable if you’ve forgotten some names of the people you met at last night’s networking soiree. This situation is so common that you would think we would all know how to handle it by now, but it never seems to feel less awkward.  The truth is, it happens to everyone, and people will be more forgiving than you think. 

If it happens to you, here are a few tactful ways to deal with the situation and make you feel less uncomfortable the next time you draw a mental blank.

Introduce Yourself First
If you encounter someone you know you’ve met before, but can’t for the life of you remember what letter his or her name starts with, take the initiative and reintroduce yourself first.  Do this as a courtesy to the other person, who may have also forgotten your name. This is also a nice way to recognize the fact that it’s been awhile since you were first introduced and that you’d like to get reacquainted.

Introduce Someone Else to Them
If you have a friend by your side, try the approach of introducing him or her to the person whose name you have forgotten.  Most likely, they will introduce themselves to your friend, and there you have it.

Ask Them to Spell It
If the situation is appropriate, ask the individual how they spell their name.  You may dig yourself into a deeper hole if it turns out that you’re speaking to a Bob or a Susan; but if this comes up, say something along the lines of, “Right, and last name?” while you laugh it off.

Ask for a Business Card
Not only will asking for a business card solve the name problem, but you’ll also receive their contact information and an open invitation to get in touch – which can lead to further opportunities!

Flat Out Ask
While it’s preferable not to make it obvious that you’ve forgotten someone’s name, a clumsy attempt to conceal this can muddle an awkward situation even further.  So sometimes the best rule to go by is honesty.  People will certainly understand because they have been there before, and they will appreciate your straightforwardness.

We would love to hear what has worked for you in this situation.  If you have any tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.


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