I’m terrible with names

by Charlie Lawson on March 1, 2013 · 2 comments

welcoming guestsI’m terrible at remembering names.  I always have been – and often, given I run the UK’s biggest referral and networking organisation, this can cause some interesting challenges.

‘Hi Charlie’, someone will say when we meet at an event or function.

‘Hi, how are you?’ will be my slightly stumbled, embarrassed reply.  Now I KNOW that I’ve met the person before (faces I don’t have a problem remembering) – but names – like I said, I’m terrible!

If they are wearing a name badge though, a quick glance down, and the reply is a much more satisfactory ‘Hi Tim, how are you…?’  I’m not talking about this being satisfactory for me (although less embarrassing maybe) – I’m much keener to make sure that my networking contact, in this case Tim, feels respected and that I’m interested in him.  After all, it is the relationship between us that will determine whether the two of us are profitable networking partners. 

Think about the first networking event you ever went to.  How did you feel?  Nervous, apprehensive, what on earth am I doing here?  The chances are though, once you got into a conversation with someone, it felt much better.

The problem is though, lots of people aren’t particularly comfortable introducing themselves to strangers.  They’ll do it because they know that they have to, but it isn’t necessarily easy.  But there is help at hand – the humble name badge really does solve these problems.

Compare the difference:

‘Er, hello, my name is Charlie, who are you?’

‘Hello Tim, my name is Charlie – what do you do?’

While both openings work OK, I know which one I’d be more comfortable with, and I know which one will get the conversation going quicker.  The confident opening of ‘Hello Tim…’ is only possible if someone is wearing a name badge – so that name badge might just be the key to successful networking relationships.

How do you network – are you a names or faces type person?

Charlie Lawson
Charlie Lawson – BNI National Director and Word of Mouth marketing expert, whose passion is to see BNI members succeed in their businesses.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Malcolm Cooper (Ezyprint Ltd) March 16, 2013 at 12:09

The BNI badges are big,bold & clear very much like the organisation.I would strongly urge that all BNI members start a twitter account(or 2) & start to follow their fellow chapter/area members. Surely Twitter is the way forward for social media networking now facebook fatique seems to be rife.Plus don’t forget the huge potential of Linkedin.An active presence on Twitter & Linkedin should help on name recognition when it comes to those face to face networking opportunities.


Kevin Walker March 17, 2013 at 12:30

Great post. I suffer the same. I have a 3 year old daughter who is obsessed with drawing, cutting sticking etc. One day a few weeks back I looked at our front room and could see nothing but a sea of paper plates, all different colours and shapes. Plates ripped and cut. She loved it; I didn’t! I was about to complain to my wife about the mess when I remembered my own desk. It’s full of paper, notepads, and post-it notes, much the same as our front room floor. Why? Because I have a terrible memory, particularly with names, so everything I do during my day I make sure I take notes. I have a specific folder just for meetings and I log every detail concerning the person I met etc.

Now if I meet someone, say, at an event. I know them and I recognise them but it might take a few polite nods before the penny drops. Mostly I rely on their memory of me to job my memory of their name. Name tags all the way for me !


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