Opening night for the Toledo Mud Hens is like a grownup’s Halloween. Like children, you put on your chosen outfit and eagerly await the evening. As the stadium fills and the sun goes down, you rush from face to face, getting as many handshakes, business cards and appointments as you can before your time is up.
Throughout the evening, your brain is overloaded with so much information that you can’t keep it all straight. By the time you get home, you realize you can remember only three names, and you’re as disappointed as a trick-or-treater with nothing but a big hole at the bottom of his empty candy bag.
All the names, faces and conversations you thought you’d remember have been lost and, with them, some great opportunities. After all, what good is a “one-night-only” blockbuster networking event if you can’t remember the wonderful people you met?
The good news is you really do have a better memory than you think; you just haven’t figured out how to use it yet. When you learn how to effectively store information in your memory, you can make the most of the networking events and the relationships you form.
Why is it you can remember the details of that amazing home run in the third inning — which bases were loaded, who was up to bat, where you were watching it happen — better than you can remember the name of the person who was standing beside you when it happened?
The reason is your mind thinks in pictures, not in words. This is why it is so easy to forget a person’s name only seconds after you are introduced to them. Names are hard to remember because they are words, not images. Remembering information is as easy as finding a visual way to recall it.
So, let’s say at this year’s Mud Hens’ game, you meet a nice guy named Sam, who happens to be wearing a horrible toupee. What are you most likely to remember, his name or the look of the pathetic rug on his head? Use what is so visually obvious to you to help remember him. As you shake his hand, think (don’t say), “horrible toupee guy, Sam.” Associating his name with his unique visual trait will help you never forget Sam’s name for as long as you live.
Of course, it is easy to remember people like this when the opportunity is obvious. The secret lies in making the conscious decision to do this every time you meet somebody. While you shouldn’t necessarily focus on negative things, focusing on something ridiculous and very memorable is what makes the image and information stay in your mind.
Storing information visually is like creating a mental file where you can keep all the information about one person under a specific image. After meeting Sam, you now have a file in your mind labeled “Horrible Toupee Guy.” In this file, you can store all the information about him: his name, how many children he has, his favorite sports team, when he is looking to switch vendors. Store as much helpful information about him as you want. You will be able to retrieve this information much longer and faster because you have a vivid picture to help you find it.
At their next networking event, your competition will be asking Sam, “Haven’t I met you before?” while you will speak confidently about things that matter to him — his children, his hobbies, his business.
Your ability to remember the fresh faces you meet is what helps you turn acquaintances into friends, and friends into customers.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.