After a recent lecture, a young consultant came up to me. “I have a problem,” he said. “People seem to forget me right away. I’ll remember meeting them, but they have no idea we connected before. I think I’m just not memorable enough. What can I do?”
Being memorable is essential for every entrepreneur — after all, people won’t fund you or buy from you if they don’t even remember you exist.
Here are five ways to ensure you’re making a strong and lasting impression
1. Identify a commonality
When I interviewed the eminent psychologist Robert Cialdini for my book Reinventing You, he told me the fastest way to get someone to like you is to find a commonality you share with them. People will trust you and relate to you if they feel you share a bond — whether it’s that you’re from the same hometown, went to the same school or even just that you both like dogs or the color orange. And if they like you and trust you, they’ll remember you.
2. Pique their interest
Many of us kill conversations in the first 10 seconds. When someone asks the inevitable, “What do you do?,” you need a better answer than just a boring recitation: “I own a business” or “I’m a technology entrepreneur.” Find a way to pique their curiosity and make them want to know more. It’s a lot more interesting and memorable to say “I help companies become more famous” or “I’m launching a business that will enable you to connect with doctors without ever leaving your home.”
3. Develop a signature style
Sometimes your wardrobe can help you stand out. (Don’t force it if it doesn’t feel natural to you.) But Madeleine Albright’s brooches, Tucker Carlson’s bowties and Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks all helped them distinguish themselves. If you have a certain accessory or style you relish, you may consider making it a conscious part of your brand. It’s a lot easier to remember “Jeff, the guy who always wears colorful socks,” compared to “Jeff, that guy who dresses like everyone else.”
4. Ask a lot of questions
It may sound counterintuitive but asking a lot of questions can actually make you far more memorable to others. People love to talk about themselves, and they’re likely to remember someone who asks thoughtful, interesting questions because it makes them feel appreciated and understood. That’s a lot more potent than someone who simply prattles on about their own accomplishments.
5. Find a reason to follow up
If people don’t remember you, it could be that you’re not giving them enough opportunities. It’s hard to remember anyone that you’ve met just once, particularly if you’ve only had a brief interaction. So if you’d like to turn a quick meeting into a long-lasting relationship, make a point of finding a way to continue the conversation. Get their contact information, and try to identify areas that are ripe for follow-up. Perhaps you can send them an article they’d be interested in or congratulate them when their favorite team wins over the weekend. The more exposure they have to you, the more likely they are to remember you at the next conference or Chamber of Commerce event.