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The Name Game

I’m in charge of networking and social time for oPASS and I do what I can to help get our members (old and new) get better at networking while at our user group meetings. In the past we’ve done introductions and games and discussion about networking. Worth doing, and effective to a point.

This month I decided to try to find a way to focus on a single skill – remembering names. Normally at our meetings when you sign in you get a name badge, this time we handed out numbers instead. When it was time for networking we started by having everyone write down 1 through 25 to get ready, and then put their pens down. Then I explained the challenge: everyone would stand up and say their name twice, the goal was to remember as many names as possible at the end of the game.

The next step was to go around the room in semi random (and not numerical) order, having everyone say their name twice. We had a few people that managed to make themselves memorable, Bob was one, mentioning that it sounded the same forward or backward. It went pretty quickly.

Then, back to pen and paper, I called out the numbers in order, asking each person to stand up briefly when called, and everyone trying to write down their name if they remembered. Jack Corbett got almost all of them, and we had a new member Jacob that also did very well. Most people got 5-10, we had a few get  more than 15 (and some of these were frequent attendees that maybe had a bit of an advantage).

When we talked at the end about why they remembered or didn’t remember, it definitely helped if the person said something memorable. For example, Kendal Van Dyke said “Kendal not Kindle”. People who were very soft spoken were less remembered.

I think it worked well as a way to work on learning names both as a skill and a practical part of being at the meeting. If there was a larger crowd I think I’d still limit the list to about 25, tagging people randomly.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Don Gabor on 13 March 2010


I'm glad you are emphasising this networking skill at SQLSaturday. Perhaps tell the group that remembering names was a popular part of the Networking for Business Contacts at PASS Sumit 2009 (and, hopefully, will at 2010, too!). By the way, the next time you do this remembering exercise try this little twist and see what happens.

As each person introduces him or her self:

1. Everyone in the group says aloud, "Nice to meet you ..."  (repeating the name aloud is key)

2. If it is a familiar name, think of someone you know (or know of) with the same name. (family member, movie star, coworker, old flame, etc.) This really works!

If then name is unfamiliar, think of a word that sounds similar to the name. This is called a "soundalike"

3. Halfway through the group, have the attendees do a silent review.

All the best,

Don Gabor

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