By Jessica Stillman
Want to make sure that investor you met at a conference or networking event remembers you? Try this.
Being memorable isn’t hard. But being memorable without seeming like a crackpot or a shameless self-promoter is trickier.
Sure, showing up with a ridiculous hat or boasting about your many, many amazing accomplishments will probably ensure that most folks you meet, no matter how busy they are, will remember you. The obvious downside, though, is they will remember you for being insane, ill dressed, or simply annoying.
But perhaps one can channel the same principle that makes the oddly attired and bizarrely brash stand out in our minds. That’s according to a tidbit of wisdom in the business book Dinosaur Brains: Dealing With All Those Impossible People at Work unearthed by Farnam Street, a consistently interesting blog dedicated to hunting down just these sorts of fascinating ideas in out-of-the-way places.
People are more memorable when their names and faces are linked to stories or experiences. The more associations your new contact has for you, the more likely you will get permanently lodged in his or her long-term memory. This, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, is the same technique author Joshua Foer used to learn an obscure African language in all of 22 hours–he associated vocabulary with elaborate images or stories, making it easier to recall.
How can you put this insight to use at your next business function? Dinosaur Brains spells it out:
Assume that when people think of you, they will store your name, a mental picture of you, a few words they associate with you and a few stories about your behavior. From this they will make all the decisions they have to make about you.
Name association is a good start for promoting yourself because you can do it in a self-deprecating way. Decide what you want people to remember when they think of you. Then say things about yourself that create those images.
You can say,
“I’m just an old war-horse. I’ve been around here forever.”
“Back in 1967, when I started managing in this division …”
In short, give people pithy and relevant context to help them remember you, and their memory banks are more likely to light up for the right reasons when you follow up later on. (According to 42Floors founder Jason Freedman, it also doesn’t hurt to simply remind busy people of the context in which you met them.)
What other nifty tricks do you use to be memorable?
Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist, among others. @EntryLevelRebel