I’m not sure if you suffer in the same way that I do, but my working memory is eroding. I can blame some of it on the recent chemotherapy that I had to undergo for ovarian cancer (thankfully done with that!). I can also point to my recent milestone of my 50th birthday. Perhaps this is the reason for my recent case of CRS – can’t remember stuff.
I want my brain back
My good friends at ExecuThink LLC, the brain fitness folks, reassure me that our cognitive memory starts to decline after age 25. So my problem has been in the works for some time. I am looking forward to resuming my cognitive memory training and enhancement with ExecuThink in early 2012. I need my working memory to remain sharp so that I can continue to be productive and relevant in this global business economy.
How this memory issue affects my networking
Today at a restaurant, I ran into a networking friend whose name I thankfully remembered. Ann and I had served briefly on an advisory panel together several years ago. She introduced me to her lunch guest and we began to chat about various things while waiting for our tables to be ready. When my lunch guest arrived, I went to introduce her to Ann and her guest, but was embarrassed when I referenced the wrong name for her friend. Ironically, her name was also Ann. Two Anns – and still I couldn’t remember that. Embarrassing, but I’ll live.
Last week I was at celebration reception for our local librarian, Jennifer Keohane who was recently awarded one of the top ten librarians in the USA in the 2011 I Love My Librarian award presented by The New York Times, the Andrew Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Librarian Association. (check out this YouTube video I created for Jennifer).
At this event I ran into many people that I knew well and some that I had met briefly in the past, including one women who had attended one of my library seminars about a year ago. I started my conversation with her by asking her, “You are in the medical field, right?” She replied “You ask me that every time you see me. No. I’m in social work.” Now that made me feel small; really small. I won her back when I whispered in her ear that there was a price tag hanging from her hat. (You know, only your best friends will tell you that.) She was genuinely grateful for this information and she promptly corrected the price tag problem.
So what’s the big deal if you can’t remember their names or what they do for a living?
For me, this memory problem creates a social awkwardness. It puts me off my game, and dings my personal confidence. I suppose I could just laugh it off and just continue on. It’s not like I’m the only one with this problem. But I strive to be a professional and an effective networker. A good memory helps me achieve both; it helps me build more connections and deeper business and personal relationships.
I recently wrote a blog article for the Southworth Company, the folks that make that awesome resume paper and fine business stationery that makes you look oh so professional! They’ve hired me to write networking articles for their blog – how cool is that!
The article is entitled Sharpen Your Memory for Greater Networking Success. In the article, I share the information and techniques that I learned from reading the book Brain Rules by John Medina. (he’s a great writer!) Here’s are some of the topics that I cover in that blog post:
- Repetition is the key
- Focus in and tune out other stimuli
- Can you confidently pronounce their name?
- Use it or lose it
- Remembering people after the networking event
Having a good memory is an important bit of social/business finesse that will add strength and momentum to your networking success. Remembering people’s names, faces and details when you see them again (months, weeks or even minutes later) makes a formidable impression on them. Don’t let age or illness keep you from continuing to work on and sharpen your memory. There are things you and I can do to retain this important ability -working memory!
Your Networking Goal for this Week
Click through and read my article on the Southworth blog, then apply what you’ve learned this week. Net net: when you network with new people, make it a priority to capture and retain their name. Use their name at least three times when you are first speaking with them. Find a memory jogging aid that works for you such as jotting down quick notes on their business card or creating a visual anchor that associates their name with a unique facial or physical feature. Remember that repetition will give your brain an advantage and will help improve your social savvy and networking success. Regular follow-up will also help you turn these new acquaintances into valuable assets in your professional network. Put it into practice today.
About the writer: Kathy McAfee is known as America’s Marketing Motivator and is author of the book Networking Ahead for Business (Kiwi Publishing 2010). In her role as Executive Presentation Coach and Professional Speaker, Kathy helps her clients to become the recognized leaders in their fields by mastering the art of high engagement presentations and more effective networking and connecting. To learn more about Kathy, visit her web site MarketingMotivator.net. To receive free weekly networking tips, sign up at NetworkingAhead.com