How to Remember Names


Remembering people’s names is one of the biggest things that everyone knows they should work on, but is incredibly hard to learn. Fortunately for us, it is a skill, just like writing, lifting, and anything else that you can consistently train and develop.

When I had first gone to university, I had made it my quest to become the Van Wilder of the campus. I wanted to be the guy that everyone knew, and everyone went to when they needed to meet someone else.

I knew that in order to accomplish this quest, I had to get good at remembering names, and fast.

Everyone’s name is their own favorite word. If you can manage to remember somebody’s name, you stand out in their memory as someone who cares about THEM. This is vital in interpersonal relationships; especially so, in business.

Don’t worry if you happen to forget somebody’s name. Most people forget names two seconds after they’re uttered. People understand that remembering names is difficult, and all you need to do is own up to it with a simple, “I’m so sorry, could you refresh me on your name?”

The Process I Used to Meet and Remember Everyone on Campus

In preparation for my rise to the top of the social totem pole, I read everything I could find on leveraging your social skills for success. The most helpful book I had laid eyes upon was How to Win Friends and Influence People (affiliate link) by Dale Carnegie.

In it, he teaches the process that Franklin Roosevelt used in order to become one of the greatest statesmen in history.

What You Do

As you’re talking to everyone, everywhere, all of the time; you will focus on remembering people’s names long enough to leave the conversation.

I find the best way to do this is to visualize their name spelled out, and attach it to their face.

This is the number one most important part of the process.

If you need to, feel free to pepper their name into the conversation in order to keep it fresh in your head.

As soon as the conversation is ended, and you’re both on your way, pull out a notebook and write down:

  • Their name
  • Where you met them
  • What they are associated with (clubs, business, fraternities, etc.)
  • Something about their person that you can attach the name to

These four things will be more than enough to associate who they are with their name.

My actual notebook from university

My actual notebook from university

Re-read this list every Monday morning before your class begins, and be sure to greet people by name as you see them around.

The more that you greet them, the more social leverage you build, and the more they associate you as a cool person. This is a lot like marketing. Big businesses spend millions of dollars JUST to get their name out there. The more often you link something with a positive thought, the more positively you think of it.

As Time Moves On

After following this process for a mere couple of weeks, I hadn’t been able to walk across campus without greeting a handful of people; and that expanded as time moved on. I was known as the guy who knows everyone by the end of the semester.

After a few months of using this remember, write, re-remember process; you will find that you naturally begin to remember people’s names. The only thing I need to focus on nowadays is the first step: remembering a name long enough to last the conversation. After that, it’s in my head.

I’ve trained my brain to realize that remembering names is crucial to a successful social and business life, and you can to. Follow these steps, and check back in with me after a few weeks to tell me about your progress.



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