Have you ever attended a networking event and collected a bunch of business cards, only to realise the next day that you can’t remember who many of the peopleare? Or worse still you think of someone you had a conversation with and you can’t remember their name or their business to follow up with them?

Well, you certainly don’t want to be one of those that other people can’t remember!

It’s all well and good to pass out business cards, but if people don’t remember you, they probably won’t be calling you to follow up, and they certainly won’t keep you in mind for their future needs or possible referrals.

Here are five tips on how to make yourself memorable (in a good way) when meeting other people face-to-face:

1. Be distinctive.

Stand out from the crowd. A brightly-colored tie, an unusual necklace or other jewelry, a good (but not overpowering) aftershave, even just impeccable grooming can all help you stand out. It’s not that you want to be remembered and identified for your dress sense, but anything that helps people separate you from the crowd helps them remember the rest of you. You don’t have to be outlandish — although some people work that quite well — just don’t blend in completely with the crowd.

2. Be fully present.

Be fully engaged and fully aware of the people you interact with. You can break this down into smaller, somewhat mechanical pieces — listen well, respond promptly, maintain eye contact, etc. — but if you are truly present in the moment, those things will happen naturally. Many people only seem to be “half there”, so being fully engaged helps you stand out.

3. Ask thought-provoking questions.

Networking experts always have great questions, such as “How did you get started?” or “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” But the very best questions can’t be communicated in an article because they’re specific to the person you’re interacting with and will arise in response to your initial conversation. You must take a genuine interest in other people and respond to them with interest.

4. Reinforce your keywords.

People aren’t going to remember long descriptions of what you do, or likely even that 15-second intro that many experts teach you to make. People will at best remember a few key things about you:

  • Your name
  • Your company name
  • Your business/industry (in three words or less)
  • Your product
  • Your location

What you want to do is find ways to unobtrusively increase the occurrence of these things in your conversation. For example, is there some kind of story behind your name? Have it ready to use if there’s an opportunity. Does your business have an unusual name? What’s the story behind it – what does it mean? Refer to your place of business when telling an incident that occurred (“I was driving down 17th Street leaving my store, when…”).

Anything you say that reinforces one of the five items above helps make you more memorable. And if they can remember just three of them — “Joe the barber from Soho” or “Maria the translator who wrote ‘Spanish in Six Weeks'” — you’re doing great.

5. Contribute to the group conversation.

Don’t hog it, and don’t say just anything in order to say something publicly, but saying one really smart thing at your table or in front of the whole group will make you much more memorable than half an hour of semi-conscious small talk. Create value for others and you create value for yourself.

When we look at brand strategy-marketing, one of the most important concepts is that a brand is not just a memorable name or logo — it’s an experience. A great brand communicates values and emotions that get called to mind whenever someone thinks of the name or logo.

Here we’re talking about your personal brand. Remember that you are your business. The impression that you make on people is the impression they will have of your business, so make it good and make it memorable.

Networking Advice

Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.

Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.

Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent?

Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you

Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.

Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them

Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.

Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you.

Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?” and no immediate answer comes to mind.

Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.

Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.