ask the readers: how do I get people to remember me?

Per Thursday tradition, I’m throwing this letter out to readers to weigh in on. This is an interesting one:

How do I get people to remember me?

Today, my colleague and I attended a meeting to finalize a work program we had negotiated with an external organization. The meeting followed six months on from an initial two-hour face-to-face meeting that both my colleague and I attended and contributed to, and multiple email exchanges in which my colleague and I participated. There were two people from the contracting organization, both of whom I had met at the initial meeting. One could not remember my name, and one did not remember meeting me at all. Both remembered my colleague, who is more well known than me in this sub-field.

This is regular experience for me. People often forget meeting me, or are not sure if they have or not, and often forget my (run of the mill) name. Name forgetting I can live with, but having people forget they ever met me is disheartening. More than that, it feels humiliating. As importantly, work in my industry flows through networks, and I think my “forgettability” hurts me professionally.

I am a quietly spoken but confident (although perhaps increasingly less so) white woman in my mid-40s. I contribute thoughtfully in meetings, am very good at my work, and have a great reputation amongst people who know (and remember!) me. In professional contexts outside of meetings, I am friendly and feel socially confident, although I am perhaps a little quiet when I first meet someone. If it’s relevant, I physically look and dress like many, many women in my field.

My field is dominated by women at the lower levels of staffing, and by men in senior positions — but the forgetting seems to be gender neutral.

I need to change this, for my professional trajectory and sense of self, but I am at a loss as to what to do. Do you have advice?

{ 458 comments… read them below }

    1. Suzy Q*

      Is IS distressing. Welcome to the age of invisibility. It sucks.
      Perhaps you could start wearing something distinctive? Bright scarves, or a rotating set of unusual brooches? Different hair color? Funky glasses? I’m just spitballing here.
      I have an unusual, natural hair color that sort of helps me; but, I still struggle to believe anyone remembers me. Sometimes, they don’t.

        1. Jill*

          I was going to suggest this, too. But to be memorable it has to be consistent. I have a collegeague who wears a big 4-5-inch flower on her lapel area that matches her outfit. Every day. Another woman here is known for her sparkly eyeglass chains. Different colors/beads but again, every day. A man here wears a ribbon-style flower boutinneer on his lapel. Every day. Having that one standout accessory, worn in a consistent manner could help.

          Also, your name may be run of the mill….but can you still add a fun memory trick or tack on a friendly joke that people will now asociate with a regular name. Like, “I’m Jane Thomas, just think Thomas the Train” or “I’m Jane Brown, like the bear” I do that with my boring name and it makes people smile. Far more likely they’ll remember me when I tack on a fun quip.

          1. Kat B.*

            I’m not sure how I feel about all the clothing-related recommendations here; in order to be truly memorable you have to veer into territory that’s semi-cartoony, and you probably don’t just want to be remembered as that lady with the crazy necklace, anyway.

            I realize there’s a lot to sort through here, with lots of conflicting advice, but I’d say introducing yourself with something clever or a joke would help right off the bat. It would be cute, memorable, possibly helpful with the name thing, and also *easy to recall.* So even people who didn’t necessarily recognize your face would be able to recall your introduction like the chorus of a song they’ve heard before. Ultimately, the goal isn’t for people to necessarily be able to remember you when they’re sitting at lunch six months later, it’s more being able to connect the dots once they’re in context. Connecting your name with a quip or a memory trick would probably help with that.

            One thing that has worked pretty well for me is having a collection of reliable, flexible jokes to deploy in many different circumstances. People remember people who make them laugh and say cute, clever things. If they don’t remember the specific things, they remember the fuzzy feeling they get when you make them laugh. Having quippy lines like “the only ice I know about is in tea!” (in reference to driving in winter), or “if I had any sense I’d be dangerous!,” or goofy made-up words like “volun-told,” or “promoted to customer” for someone who was fired, or referencing “conference call/buzz word bingo” can work.

            In moderately social/networking settings I’ll also find a way to (naturally, off-handedly, not obnoxiously) work in a reference to something interesting or unusual about me, usually in the context of telling a related story or making a peripheral comment – “When I worked in the warehouse/was in Korea/learned to drive stick shift/was writing my novel/etc.” The textural stuff seems to give people something to latch onto.

            1. Kathlynn*

              You don’t need to be semi-cartoony, as you put it. Just a really nice accessory or accent piece. Like choosing not to get black glasses, and getting one that has a pattern. Or a really nice pin/necklace/earnings/bag.

              1. AnnaBananna*

                I guess I don’t understand how a pair of patterned glasses will help someone be remembered six months later?

                1. Christy*

                  I had green glasses for a while, and they were always exceptionally memorable to people. They were definitely unusual so people remembered them. (They weren’t that weird tbh, but they weren’t in the norm.)

                2. Now You See Me*

                  It does seem silly, but it has absolutely helped me remember people if it’s consistent! Also I have a chin length bob (basically) which is fairly unusual among my cohort, and I truly credit it for why people unerringly remember me even in passing. So distinctive visual cues go a long way.

                3. Now You Don’t*

                  I had bright red glasses until I had lasik recently. Half the people I’ve worked with for 15 years walked right by me afterward. While I was saying hi. They didn’t even look.

                  Now you see me. Now you don’t.

            2. AnnaBananna*

              “July 19, 2018 at 2:50 pm
              I’m not sure how I feel about all the clothing-related recommendations here”

              THANK YOU.

            3. selena81*

              No offense, but i think that ‘telling jokes’ can get obnoxious in a way that unusual fashion won’t. It’s also highly culturally specific: in some cultures (england) you are supposed to tear yourself down, whereas in other cultures (germany) it is more of a ‘if you cannot even take yourself seriously..’

              i tend to dislike it when people come across as ‘i memorized a ton of jokes and anecdotes to prove how quirky i am, lets work our way through them one by one’

          2. JSPA*

            You may be one of the few people who would benefit professionally from a tiny-yet-visible tattoo; a vocal quirk; use of a nickname; a tendency to overshare about one (artfully chosen) aspect of your hobbies or outside-work life; or any of the many other features that people write in about, to ask if they “must” change them.

            If that’s not your style? Then get a fairly large, distinctive (even dramatic) yet goes-with-anything broach, and wear it like a lucky talisman. Better yet, get two identical ones, in case you lose or break one of them.

          3. Specialk9*

            My advice: use a memory jog phrase, and post your picture in your company directory.

            People never remember my name, which is on the rarer side. What works for me is to peg it verbally to someone iconic. (Eg: I’m Garfield, like the cartoon cat who loves lasagna. or: I’m Anne, like Anne Boleyn, but, you know, still with my head. Or, for names outside the familiar Western bucket of names: ‘I’m Satyandra, like he ‘sat yonder, ah’.) It’s the only thing that’s ever worked.

            On the other side, as someone who struggles with names/faces, what helps me is to have a photo connected to every email. My work lets people upload a photo to their profiles, and Skype too. Most people don’t, frustratingly, so I grab a LinkedIn photo. That way every email and IM interaction reinforces what they look like.

            1. Stressing about the ALL the names!*

              Ditto the pictures on work emails. I struggle to remember people and names and having the reinforcement of face to name in the email is a godsend.

              1. selena81*

                agreed about the pictures: really helps to cement ‘o yeah, that’s how she looks like’

            2. IndoorCat*

              I knew someone with a Chinese name that didn’t (to me) look like how it was pronounced. Everyone kept mispronouncing her name until she said, “guys it’s two English words that already exist! Sung. Won. Past tense of ‘sing’ and ‘win.’ You already know the words that are my name!” It was so funny. Nobody mispronounced her name after that.

      1. nep*

        Invisibility–yup. One can’t really understand it till living through it. I’d heard of it but now–everywhere I go–I live it. It’s bizarre. Mostly not a problem, but in some contexts disconcerting.
        As far as my ego goes and just feeling bad about it, well, thankfully I’m over that for the most part. But I can see how OP would be concerned about it hitting the professional life. OP, could you give some specifics as to how you think this could hamper your career?
        I can’t think of any advice here; I’ll be interested to read the responses. I think you just go on being the absolute best you can be at what you do. I would hope you don’t have to change who you are just to get the recognition and respect you deserve in your work.

      2. Lora*

        Yeah, I do the funky glasses thing. On occasions when I have a fitness class or something after work, and I wear contacts, people go back to not recognizing me.

        The other thing I was memorable for was apparently large breasts, so I heartily recommend getting some nifty glasses.

        1. Reba*

          Hoo boy.

          But yes, can confirm about memorable glasses! A friend of mine was always getting introduced as “[members of the team] and… that one!” She got bright red glasses. Higher ups now greet her by name when they are passing through her floor.

      3. Hey Nonnie*

        I’m not convinced this is a “woman of a certain age” thing — at least not universally. I experience this too, but I HAVE experienced this both professionally and personally for my entire adulthood. I’m not soft-spoken, I have a unique appearance, I’m even a loud laugher, so I don’t think adding a loud scarf would make any difference.

        The real difficulty is discovering the root cause… and all I can say is I empathize, because I still haven’t figured it out. I know I’ve lost out on career opportunities, because unless I’m within someone’s field of vision, no one seems to remember I exist, so no one calls to tell me about this great job opening they heard about.

        1. krysb*

          Are you me? Because, same. I have a unique appearance, I can be mouthy, but I am totally forgotten, like, all the time.

      4. AnnaBananna*

        I don’t think clothing changes are necessary but perhaps including a photo in a signature (Outlook has this option and it’s used extensively where I work), or a link to a LinkedIn profile (which also has a photo). And perhaps more importantly, is that it seems its time to step up contribution to her field. Becoming vocal amongst popular blogs (or even starting your own about your field and interviewing experts), contributing at conferences, inviting other experts to contribute something to a project, etc. These are the ways one’s name becomes synonymous with expertise, and thusly more difficult to forget.

        But sure, dorky glasses and a hot pink scarf works too. If that’s the image you’re trying to portray. ;)

        1. Jessica Fletcher*

          LW, please do not put your photo in your Outlook signature. That is bizarre.

          1. SS Express*

            I think what AnnaBananna is referring to is the feature where your picture shows up in the Outlook-generated section that also displays email address, subject line, sent time etc (depending on how the recipient has their display set up). It’s a really commonly used feature, and not the same as just sticking a photo under “regards, SS Express, Teapots Inc” (which I agree would be strange).

          2. Specialk9*

            It’s totally normal! You’re not attaching it to every email, you’re just making sure the directory has your photo, which means that Outlook will add your photo. For Skype, you upload a photo. I have a coworker who changes his weekly, and they’re often silly (but he’s established enough to get away with this).

    2. krysb*

      I know exactly how OP feels. I deal with this at work, but I’m also the person who missed my own birthday dinner twice because my family forgot to, you know, wait for me, plus my own graduation dinner – which is a feat, since I’m the only one of four kids to even graduate from high school. I feel so special.

      1. Specialk9*

        That’s terrible. I’m sorry your family didn’t support or celebrate you. I hope you have a family by choice that does.

      2. Khlovia*

        Hearing you. My mother’s relatives scheduled a dinner at a nice restaurant opposite my high-school graduation. My mother chose to go to the restaurant with them instead of watching me graduate.

        I was upset because I wanted to go to the restaurant too, but, nope, they dropped me off at the school.

  1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

    I don’t really have any advice here, but I can commiserate. People seem to forget my name often in the professional setting, and I often get called names that sound similar to mine. (Anna, Shannon, Pam, etc.) I obviously don’t recommend this, but I just ignore it for the most part and respond to whatever it is a person has called me.

    1. Kat in VA*

      What is that with the name changing?

      My name is Katherine. I use the nickname “Kat”. I can’t tell you how many people see the name Katherine or ask me my name (and I say “Kat”), and then proceed to call me Kathy, Kate, Katie, Pat (I guess that’s a corruption of Kat), Kath…anything other than what I’ve told them and how I sign my emails.

      “Hi, what’s your name?” “My name is Kat.” “OK, Kathy…” /headdesk/

      Most folks will correct themselves upon my gentle “I go by Kat, actually”, but there’s those determined few who either just don’t remember or have their preferred moniker for me.

      White woman, 47, executive assistant. It’s a small thing, but dang, is it annoying or what?

      1. Anonymeece*

        I have a nickname that I have been called since I was born. My family members, friends, and acquaintances exclusively refer to me by my nickname. Yet, due to the whims of our IT department, my legal name is listed on my email. Despite my signature using my nickname, gently reminding people, and being known professionally exclusively by said nickname, I *still* have people who continue to address me by my legal name.

        I wholly sympathize!

        1. missc*

          I use a shortened version of my legal name for everything except official paperwork. This shortened version is in my email address, my email signature and is the name that shows up as the sender when I email people (in my first job, they set up my email with my legal name and it was a huge pain, so I’ve been very careful ever since to make sure that my work email address matches the name I actually use!)

          Yet I constantly get people replying to my emails using similar names that are in no way my actual name. Say my name was Susie – the sort of names I get would be things like ‘Hi Suzanne’, ‘Hi Susan’, ‘Hi Susannah’. I find it really irritating – seriously, how hard is it to read someone’s email and respond using the correct name?

      2. batshytecrazy*

        I have a simple, two-syllable name. I always introduce myself by that name and use it as a signature in my e-mail. Friends and acquaintances have no problem calling me by my name. EVERYONE at work shortens it to the first syllable, no matter how many time I correct them. I think it’s because I’m an admin. Nobody messes with the names of the professional women in my office.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          I have a simple ONE-syllable name, and anyone ever who reads my name off of paperwork invariably calls me by a diminutive of my name, even though that would require adding a syllable and extra letters at the end.

          If I didn’t generally need things from these people, I would be asking them all “when was the last time you got a Tim across your desk and you decided to call him Timmy?”

          1. Helena*

            My husband has the opposite problem – his name is european and sounds a lot like a diminutive but it isn’t, it is his full, birth-certificate name (think Nikki, or Benno).

            A number of work colleagues obviously feel uncomfortable calling him by his “baby name” and so call him by the longer English equivalent. But that isn’t his name! It’s like insisting on calling a Katie “Catherine” when she’s just a Katie. Or calling every Megan “Margaret”. There’s also an overlay of xenophobia – they aren’t going to use his weird foreign name, but the nicer more normal English equivalent.

            1. just someone*

              My ex-partner had the same issue. He’s a first-generation American, whose parents gave him a Chinese first name and a common English name as his middle name. Other than his parents, he went solely by his middle name, exactly as it appears on his birth certificate – “Bobby”.

              Partner met my extended family at numerous holidays over the years, and my uncle consistently referred to him as “Robert”. Even though that’s not his name, it’s never been his name, and he’d been told that repeatedly.

              We decided to start calling my uncle (whose legal name is Carl) “Carlos”, in an effort to drive home the whole “my name is not a nickname for something else” point. Went right over his head. Not sure uncle even noticed. Some people are incorrigible.

      3. Kat Em*

        I’m also a Kat. When people mess up my name, I say “It’s actually Kat like the animal. Meow!”

        They don’t forget again.

      4. Sarcastic Fringehead*

        My mom has the opposite issue – her legal name is also a common short version of a longer name (using your name as an example, her legal name would be Kat) and people are constantly “formalizing” it by calling her Katherine. It’s baffling.

        (although it shouldn’t matter what her legal name is, really – people should call you by the name you want to be called, almost without exception)

      5. April Ludgate*

        “When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care.” – Ron Swanson

        But really, some people have a really hard listening, they just hear things.

  2. Amber Rose*

    Wear nothing but brightly colored Hawaiian shirts from now on.

    Just kidding. You say you are soft spoken. Can you practice projecting your voice more? For better or worse, those who have loud voices are often well remembered. You don’t need to yell, but some practice in getting your voice to sound loud without screaming is helpful for a lot of things.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      This. Voice projection is a matter of how you’re breathing, what muscles you’re using, etc. Singers have to learn it, and using some techniques to increase the volume of your voice would probably help a lot. Do it enough and it’ll become natural.

    2. AthenaC*

      I do think you’re on to something with your suggestion, though. OP, would you consider adopting a bit more of a unique style? Maybe brighter colors or patters, some attention-grabbing accessories, a bright eyeshadow / eyeliner color, blue / maroon / purple streaks in your hair … not all at once and everything in moderation, of course, but catching people’s attention in this way should help them remember you!

      1. Breda*

        Yeah, even some really striking earrings or a collection of statement necklaces will give people something visual to latch onto. I was also thinking of bright shoes, but I think it’s better to have it near your face.

        1. Not a Blossom*

          This made me think of the character Diana on Younger. She always wears these elaborate statement necklaces. I might not go quite as dramatic as she does (those things look heavy!), but they are definitely memorable.

        2. Socks*

          Oh man speaking of your face: I wear glasses. My glasses are bright purple. Everyone, everyone wants to talk about my glasses. Strangers want to talk about my glasses. They’re not an otherwise weird shape or style, so I don’t think they cross the line into truly being a distraction, but they’re unique enough that they stand out in a good way. Plus it means that if I skip eye makeup that day, my eyes still get to have something drawing people’s attention to them, apparently. I cannot recommend colorful glasses frames highly enough, as an easy way to make yourself visually distinctive without necessarily crossing the line into eccentricity or kitsch. I guess I don’t know for sure why any given person remembers me (I’m also jewish as hell and so I have all sorts of features that subtly differ from, like, average), but I suspect strongly that the glasses have, at least at some point, contributed.

          1. This Daydreamer*

            Glasses can be great! And, if you buy them online, you can afford to really play with your look.

            1. Tau*

              There are also glasses where you can switch out the frame and keep the same lenses. I have some of these, and it allows me to be a lot bolder with my glasses than I could otherwise (since my lenses are sufficiently expensive I can’t really afford several pairs, to say nothing of the fact that it usually takes several days to adjust between lenses even with the same prescription).

              1. KEWLM0M*

                I am not an eye doctor, but years ago had the same difficulty adjusting from safety glasses to regular glasses and was told it was the build. Apparently you can build a particular prescription in more than one way, so if the build is different it can cause the adjustment issues.

                1. Carrie*

                  I also have had issues switching between prescription sunglasses and my regular glasses. I believe the key is where within the lenses the put the part that adjusts the focus, and this is based on the shape of your face and other details that they need to measure and see in person. I’ve had best luck going to small local glasses stores, not big chains, where they’ll take the time to really fit you correctly.

      2. Sarah*

        I’m hoping to one day be a professional writer, but right now I’m just doing short stories and readings wherever I can. I wear red lipstick to every single event. All of them. Without fail. And holy cow, the number of people who notice/remember me because of that is incredible. I’m generally fairly extroverted, which helps, but I’ve had really senior people I’ve never interacted with remember me because of it. (A friend was looking for me backstage at a Very Important Event and bumped into the head of the event and asked if he knew where I was. I had never met the head of the event, but he said, “Sarah? The one with the lipstick? She’s over on the back couch.”)

        A consistent visual trigger works WONDERS.

        1. London Calling*

          Yep, I have short (dyed) red hair and that works in the same way. ‘Her over there with the Titian pixie cut.’

          1. only acting normal*

            Distinctive hair (big thick curls) was apparently how a lot of people used to remember me. When I switched suddenly to a pixie cut half my work acquaintances blanked me, and my ‘memorability factor’ had never really recovered. :-/

        2. Camellia*

          I came here to say the same thing – red lipstick. I also agree with others who’ve suggested things closer to the face. Statement pieces like earrings or a particular necklace work well, as do the unique eye glasses.

        3. Specialk9*

          I have a friend with prosopagnosia, face blindness, who has a very public facing job and also is a social leader. I always put my name upfront (“Hi Jacob, it’s Specialk9, I’m so glad to see you!”), but he’s told me that my non-facial features are distinctive enough that I don’t need to. So he can see that I have a facial piercing and it registers where actual facial features don’t. He can see color and shape of hair, height, body shape, etc.

          So it’s interesting that people without face blindness rely so hard on visual markers that they wouldn’t recognize someone without their distinctive glasses / hair / lipstick.

      3. Kathlynn*

        This, I’m a cashier, and I have very bad facial recognition. What makes me remember people is if they come in in a uniform/work shirt or wear/carry/have something distinctive. Or if their personality is very visible in their body language and/or interactions with me. (really friendly, really suspicious, wears shirts with a saying on it). Other then that it’s frequently stopping by the store and interacting with me. (not just stopping by the store, we don’t have a hive mind connecting employees)

      4. MM*

        I think, in agreement with Sarah in this thread, that it should be something fairly consistent, so that you can become “the one who” or “the one with the __.” Even if you change it up–like a rotation of statement earrings, or changing the color of a hair streak every so often (if your industry allows something that playful)–keeping it as just different versions of the same Thing would, I think, be helpful. Maybe just a distinctive haircut?

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I’m thinking alternate colorful jackets or scarves – maybe turquoise or aqua, pink or magenta, purple, green, etc. – whatever are your favorites.
          Or blouses? that could work too.

      5. Miss V*

        This actually is a pretty good idea. I cant count the the number of people who comment something to me along the lines of ‘I remember you! You’re always wearing such pretty dresses!’ Of course this isn’t all I want to be known for, but being ‘Miss V who always wears pretty dresses and is also great at her job’ isn’t a bad thing.

      6. Mind your Bees Knees*

        Something shiny is always good. Related story: I am a 30s something white woman from New England in sensible shoes carrying too many tote bags on the exhibitor floor of the American Library Association conference. Which makes me 1 out of several thousand practically identical people. However, I put my nametag on one of those sparkly rhinestone lanyards (image search “rhinestone lanyard”) that you can buy in like every airport newsagent. I wear it because it’s sparkly and I thought it was kind of funny. However, I have since learned that
        A) It is the world’s easiest ice breaker (Stranger: “Hey, awesome lanyard!” Me:”Thanks! I love it it and you can totally find one like like it at the airport.”)
        B) I have been remembered from day to day or year on year by people because of the crazy thing (“Oh, come show my co-worker your lanyard: I was describing it to her yesterday.” and “Hey, I remember you from last time with the cool necklace!”)
        Now, is it gendered to have a conversation about an article of clothing rather than work? Yeah. And if I didn’t like to wear sparkles or something eccentric it would feel awkward. But it gives people a hook, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Also, I can take it off and become anonymous again!
        **Note of warning about relying on this too much. I also used to have varied and eccentric hair styles/colors, but discovered an issue with that while sitting next to a meeting chair who hadn’t seen me since a new color/cut and started the meeting by saying “Well, we’re just waiting on Bees Knees…” while everyone else on the committee looked back and forth between us awkwardly.**

        1. KayEss*

          I am cringing in horrified recognition at that meeting chair, because that is the kind of thing I can fully see my moderately face-blind self doing.

        2. Chinookwind*

          I would say distinguishing yourself with clothing/accessories is gendered, but only because men don’t seem to have the same type of options. When I come across a guy with a unique accessories or fashion choice or hair colour, he stands out in the same way a woman does (if not more). Being known as the guy with the unique ties or socks is also a good way to be identifiable in the future, just harder to pull off.

          As for the OP’s problem, I honestly think you shouldn’t take it as a commentary on your personality or abilities. You may not be high enough above the crowd to be noticeable, but you are also not memorable for anything bad or professionally cringe worthy wither. Average is good (and the majority of us are average) and means you have to speak up when you see opportunities heading in your direction.

    3. MakesThings*

      The short thing actually isn’t bad advice (though probably not with Hawaiian shirts).
      I knew a guy who was a TV presenter- he built his entire work wardrobe around one bright color. It became his signature, and you could always pick him out in the shot.
      You might think about doing something like that- you could become the powder blue lady, or the magenta person, or the yellow colleague, or whatever.

        1. Grits McGee*

          We had a summer intern who wore shorts to the office every day, and we certainly haven’t forgotten him.

      1. Sunshine*

        I met a realtor who only wears black, white, and red outfit combinations. I still remember her after 19 years so I guess it works!

        1. JeanB in NC*

          I saw a movie once where the main character wore only black, white, and gray. I did that for years – it makes dressing for work so much easier!

      2. Kat in VA*

        This makes me think of Don Cherry, the hockey commentator, who always wears the wildest, loudest, most obnoxious suits ever! I may forget other commentator’s names, but as soon as I see one those suits – OH THAT’S DON CHERRY!

      3. OhNo*

        This really does work wonders – I still remember the woman from my very first job in high school whose favorite color was bright hunter orange. She didn’t always wear something of that color, but she wore it often enough and it was distinctive enough that she was very memorable.

        1. Specialk9*

          I knew someone who wore purple. Not only purple, I think she wore brown or grey as her neutral. But purple was all one noticed.

    4. Another Lawyer*

      +1 I wore a ton of bright magenta shift dresses when I was attending a lot of meetings with external shareholders who I had met once or twice and it made my image click in people’s brains pretty quickly and now they recognize/remember me when I run into them in other contexts.

      1. Marge Gunderson*

        Yep, this this this. You don’t have to radically change your attire, but having a visually consistent style with a stand out piece or accessory here or there might be helpful. Your visual brand is a huge part of your brand! It could be as simple as a certain color or necklace or handbag. I helped my husband stand out at work by establishing a quiet but distinct style and it really worked, so it’s not necessarily a gender thing.

    5. Data Miner*

      My hobby is making jewelry (linked) and I wear what I make. I haven’t thought about it before, but it’s something that is both a conversation starter when people compliment/ask about my jewelry and also makes me stand out and be memorable. Kinda like Margaret Thatcher :-)

      So I agree with the above in trying to play with your image to exude more personality.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        So pretty!

        My first thought was scarves as your memorable ‘thing’ but noticeable yet professional jewelry makes a lot of sense.

      2. EmKay*

        Holy smokes you are talented! Do you make custom pieces as well? Like say I wanted to request something in specific colours or a certain style of necklace?

        1. Lora*

          Seconding the request for custom. I love the swirl earrings but cannot wear regular hooks, I need the lever back kind – they’re the only ones that manage to stay in my ears.

      3. This Daydreamer*

        Hey, fellow beader! Is there anything better than a jewelry compliment from a stranger? I live for it.

        And this stranger loves your work.

        1. Data Miner*

          Thank you!
          I know, best compliment is from fellow beaders :-) We just can’t help oohing and ahhing and trying to figure out how it was made!

    6. Queen of Cans and Jars*

      Chiming in to agree with the clothing suggestion. I’m an introvert, and I think that focusing on DOING something that would make me more memorable would probably backfire in some awkward manner. However, just wearing something that people take note of would be a lot less stressful for me. I have VERY curly hair, which I think it is a distinctive feature that helps people identify me.

      1. selena81*

        I’m an introvert too, and i think you are wise to not go for something behavioral: seeing someone fumble through social interaction is not a sight potential customers will want to see again.

        I think my ‘distinctive feature’ is that i’m fat and have weird hair and so-so fashion-sense (in an industry where the dress-code is relatively strict). Not the best things to be known for, and i’m trying to fix the fashion-sense, but i am clearly more memorable to other people then they are too me (so many times someone shouts my name and i have no clue who they are)

        so i guess i have the opposite problem of LW: i get stressed from the fact that people seem to remember me and presumably also remember the mistakes i have made over the years.

    7. Logan*

      I’m going to offer the opposite suggestion to others on this thread – have you thought about dressing more masculine? I work in a place where the women are mostly admins / support staff, and the professionals / managers are mostly men, and I’ve been trying to dress more masculine in order to not be viewed as an admin. It sucks that this is the world that I am in, but the one other woman in my meetings is often the admin who is taking notes, so I wear shirts (with collars, usually with a couple buttons and not the shirts with buttons all the way down) which is similar to other men but within the scope of what feels good on me.

      Is there a way of adapting the men’s style at work to something that might work for you?

      1. Not a Blossom*

        I think that’s really just a different take on the same suggestion. If the majority of the women in the OP’s field dress similarly, tailoring her style to lean more toward what the men wear is another way to dress distinctively.

      2. Specialk9*

        I took a similar, but ungendered, tack in my career. Early on I noticed that the managers wore suit-ish outfits (men and women), and everyone under that wore casual stuff. I dressed like a manager. I had several people who were shocked that I was a peer rather than a manager, and I think the attire did the job.

    8. Mystery bookworm*

      Not sure if anyone’s suggested this yes, but it might be worth looking into your local toastmasters club, or similar, and sharing your concerns. Even if you’re not shy, they can help you work on maybe projecting more or help you identify if there’s anything about the way you’re coming across that’s contributing to the issue

      1. Specialk9*

        Yes, Toastmasters really helped my shy sibling.

        But also – what small ways are you establishing yourself as an expert? Can you sign up to do a Lunch n Learn? (and if you’re not 100% sure of the topic, you can ask a senior person to help with content, and be there for the tricky questions.) Can you write an article in a professional journal, or create a blog and link on LinkedIn? Etc.

    9. Rezia*

      I’ll add another option in case you’re a more conservative dresser like I am. This will depend on your climate, but I use scarves as a way to add a pop of colour in my mostly black/navy wardrobe. They’re not expensive, and easy to leave one at work/in your bag. I often get compliments on my scarves from coworkers, that could be a cheap/flexible way to add a little visual cue, without having to go as extreme as being “the green lady”

    10. Sketchee*

      Wearing a few interesting or bright colored pieces does help. I’ve read this tip in a few books and it works! Just the occasion bright or interesting patterned shirts. People will often say “You’re always wearing bright colors!”

      Another thing is to know it’s not personal. Everyone forgets. For me, I just say “Oh wow I remember meeting you at X, Y, Z! My name is A, yours is B right? I have a good memory about these kinds things.”

      React positively as someone who finds this to be a completely normal thing that most people forget lots of people. If you’re the person who remembers names, more people will come to you saying asking for your help in remembering.

      Projecting and acting more outgoing also does help. I’ve also read a study that found even introverted people feel better when after trying to be outgoing in situations that require it.

      Hope this helps!

    11. betty (the other betty)*

      Ha! My son wore a Hawaiian shirt to the first day of college orientation. We were eating breakfast with him the second day, and about twelve other students came up to him and said something like, “Hey, HisName! You were the one at with the Hawaiian shirt, right?” So that could work.

    12. Mimmy*

      Wear nothing but brightly colored Hawaiian shirts from now on.

      Ahh I see you’ve met one of my coworkers :P

    13. Cat Herder*

      Perhaps it’s also how you hold yourself, your physical presence? That can be harder to spot for yourself, perhaps a trusted friend or colleague can observe?

    14. TardyTardis*

      I had a Betty Boop coffee cup at my desk when I worked at a tax place this year. I can’t tell you how many people remarked on it, and if I work there again, will certainly have it again.

  3. Spooky*

    I’m so sorry, OP. I’m 100% not sure this would work, but just a thought: I am a visual person. I learn through reading things, not through hearing them or doing them. I’m garbage at remembering people I’ve been briefly introduced to. However, I do tend to remember things in writing, like an email. Seeing a person’s name written out, and actually reading communication from them, just cements it for me somehow. Is it possible that you could initiate more written contact with these people, like sending follow-up emails after meeting them?

    Very eager to hear other people’s suggestions, and will definitely take them into account for my own behavior as well.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      This is a great suggestion! I am not visual and don’t always follow up with email but I am going to start.

    2. Lemon Sherbet*

      This is me as well. I can be introduced to someone three or four times and still not remember where I know them from. Like, I’ll recognize their face, but have no idea who they are in my life. Emailing/texting/Instagramming with people helps me infinitely when it comes to solidifying who they are.

    3. Ashley*

      A post meeting follow-up email might be helpful especially if you can make it a thank you note. Those tend to stand out and might help jog people’s memories next time you see them.
      I would also suggest try making a point of learning and using everyone’s name. I tend to make more of an effort to learn people’s names who seem to know me.

      1. Alice*

        Or a pre-next-meeting email. You can send someone a quick note a couple days before — looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday, glad we’re collaborating on project X.

      2. Ali G*

        Yes I was going to suggest either getting a business card or writing everyone’s names down and then sending them an invite if you can find them on LinkedIn.

    4. Kisses*

      I read on a help site that you can actually try to get their email on your phone before you leave. After your introductions and especially if you might be working together in the future, just pull your phone out and ask for the contact info. Then send a quick email the next day, nice to have met you, that kind of thing. I agree!

    5. Artemesia*

      I would definitely follow up with emails with people you want to build relationships with. I moved to a new town when I retired where I knew no one except my daughter. One of the things I did to build a social circle was to when I met someone interesting, get their contact information and then follow up — often to suggest getting together for lunch, but sometimes just to touch base. All of our friends were initially acquired this way. If you had an interesting conversation email with an article on the topic you discussed or a request for the book title or article they mentioned. If it makes sense, get together for lunch or if you will be at a conference to get a drink or lunch at the conference. In other words take initiative to build the contact.

      Reflect on your dress. Is there something you could do to make yourself more memorable in style. e.g. be the person who always wears an interesting antique stick pin or broach or pendant. Or wear well chosen striking scarves. Obviously appropriate to the waters you swim in — maybe it is the unique t-shirt.

    6. Ihmmy*

      Also, Outlook usually lets you add a picture to your profile if you want (depends on how it’s all set up). It might be a little odd if no one else in your business uses this feature, but we were encouraged at my workplace to make use of it and it helps you match names to faces a little bit better. It just shows at the top of the email beside your name (or does on how my outlook is configured)

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          … just realized my existing Outlook photo was SEVEN years old and changed it.

    7. Nita*

      This! I really recommend sending a follow-up email after meeting someone, and/or giving them your business card. I’m sure that it’s not personal that they’re forgetting you. Some people just don’t have a great memory for people they’ve met recently, and need a little help. I am an embarrassing poster child – I’ve got a terrible memory for faces and on top of that, usually can’t remember names on first introduction.

      1. another_scientist*

        another way of following up, and reminding them of having met you is connecting on LinkedIn. If you do an immediate follow up email, and then wait a week or two before you connect them on LI, they get two reminders!

    8. Michaela Westen*

      I used to be like this until I took Spanish lessons with a man who had me record our lessons. Working with this helped a lot. I’m much better at absorbing info I hear.

    9. Sometimes Wallflower*

      I can be memorable when I want to be, but tend to be quiet and disappear if I am with a “bigger” personality who takes the lead. I can confirm that this approach works fantastically. If it’s someone I want to remember me in the future, I reach out over email after our first meeting to thank them for their time, emphasize key takeaways, or whatever is appropriate. This not only makes you stand out as someone who follows up with care and remembers and appreciates people you have met, but has the added bonus of making you the “go-to” contact for the future, because they have follow-up interaction with you personally. Somehow this is different from hum-drum email exchanges about your business and it really makes you stand out.

      One slight caveat – you have to make sure you are confident in your email messaging or it can come across as you acting in a support role to your flashier counterpart. The best way I’ve found to overcome that is to focus on my own interaction with the person and (again if appropriate) describe how I hope to interact with them in the future (“looking forward to tackling this project together” or “hope we get to talk shop at the next Teapot Designers convention) and naming a few specific examples of ways I can work with them in the future.

      This also works to mitigate when you have a domineering coworker. I used to have a fellow team member who loved to give people the impression that she managed me (she didn’t) and I frequently used the follow-up approach to clarify and reiterate that she and I were equal (but handled different aspects of a project) for future reference. It worked like a charm.

  4. Muriel Heslop*

    Ask people about themselves! Those around you will remember people who made them feel interesting and took the time to get to know them. (Obviously this is generally true, not always true.)

    I teach eighth grade and I pass out a little letter with words of advice for high school on the last day of school and a lot of my advice is variations on building relationships and being interested in other people seems to be the foundation of that. It’s worked for me and I hope it can work for you, OP! Good luck!

    1. Kimberly Swygert*

      Yes! As someone with a terrible memory, I greatly appreciate when people play offense on this topic, so to speak. When you first meet people, do ask them about themselves. The next time you see them, give them a warm greeting and ask about the topic they shared with you. You’ll get a reputation for having a super-memory; people will be gratified that you remembered something about them;, and, it’s much less likely that someone will then blurt out, “Wait, who are you?” after you’ve said something that’s made it clear you’ve met before. They’re much more likely to recall having met you and more likely to just go with the flow even if they don’t remember you.

      1. JustaTech*

        This is often how I remember people (especially my or my husband’s coworkers). In my head (not out loud) people are “Dan, with motorcycle” and “Allen, with coffee-making toddler” or “Kyle, semi-pro beer” and “Steve, professional brewer”.

        Sadly for me sometimes I get the thing “Family lives in Brazil”, “incredibly good with a knife”, “journalist” without the name, just the face. And then it’s really awkward to be like “hey, how’s your family in Sao Paulo, and what’s your name again?”

        1. Iris Eyes*

          My ability to remember details of people’s lives and not their name amuses me. But science gives me the out, names are difficult to remember because they are often the least memorable thing about a person and are not often reinforced. i.e. I heard your name once and that was it and then we talked about your trip to Spain for ten minutes, of course I remember that you had an awesome time in Granada but not that your name is Gwen.

          In the OP’s this should be used to her advantage. People not knowing your name is inevitable but you do want them to remember you and interacting with you. So try to talk about something unique to you. You could share about something work related but it needs to be distinctive, what original thought or problem or contribution have you experienced?

        2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          Honestly, I’d be happier about you remembering something relevant who I *am* versus my name.

      2. Specialk9*

        I write myself notes in my contacts Notes field. I grab their photo from LinkedIn. I do anything I can to not forget names! (Sigh)

        It’s really not helped by the fact that sometimes I *haven’t* met people! I’m just physically distinctive so they notice me walking around.

    2. PDXJael*

      THIS! It sounds like people think of the LW as an interchangeable professional robot. Be a person instead, go to lunch together before or after, ask about hobbies, crack a joke. That’s how people are memorable. If you’re just another suit clicking through PowerPoints on quarterly projections, you are going to be imminently forgettable.

    3. Doug Judy*

      I’ll add to this to try and find some commonality if possible. If you make a personal connection with the, they will be more apt to remember you.

    4. Peachy*

      Yes, people tend to remember someone who is interested in them. It works. Although sadly, men don’t seem to need to do this in order to be remembered, so it ends up being yet another extra thing that women have to do. And white 40-something women are among the most invisible of all.

      I mean, I still do it, but I also recognize that it’s unfair.

    5. Jessica*

      I second this!

      Also, I’ve found it helpful to push one interesting fact about myself to people I’m meeting for the first time that would provide an association with myself.

      Currently I switched industries, so when I introduce myself (normally question #1 was what did you do prior to this position) I mention the industry I was in before. (Example: I now work in the teacup industry and mention that I have similar experience in the teakettle industry. Now a lot of people who meet me for the first time say “you’re the teakettle girl, right?”)

      Could be something as stupid as you’re the ‘dog lady’ or the ‘rugby player lady’. I usually remember names and faces of people who present a distinct trait about themselves (not always positive, either mind you!)

    6. Leagle Beagle*

      As an older woman (who is older than the OP), I often say I could rob a bank and no one would be able to identify me precisely because no one really sees women once they pass a certain age. However, I agree completely with Muriel Heslop! Her proposed strategy is exactly how I get around the “older woman forgettability factor”: I ask people about themselves, make a note of their responses in the “notes” section of their entry in my phone’s address book, and make sure that I mention this information when I email or see them again.

      What do I ask? Depends on the setting. In an all-work setting, I might ask how long they’ve been in their field, what they enjoy about it, where they see it going. At a meal-meeting, I might ask about outside interests. It doesn’t have to be much information, just enough to reference in a non-awkward way in the next interaction with the person. (“Great to see you again, Frank! What sort of vintage car are you restoring these days?”)

      This strategy communicates you’re really listening to the other person and seeing them as more than the sum of the work project. My experience is that they will remember that — and you — as a result.

      1. Alienor*

        It’s interesting that older women are perceived as invisible–that’s the demographic I tend to notice the most, and remember seeing around the office, just because there aren’t very many of them. On the other hand, I have a really hard time telling apart the dozens and dozens of women here who are in their 20s, have longish blonde/light brown hair, and tend to dress the same way! I’m around the OP’s age, and I can’t help wondering if 20 years ago, people who were the age I am now saw me as an interchangeable “marketing girl.”

        1. only acting normal*

          I have terrible trouble telling middle-aged white men apart, which is awkward when they make up the vast majority of people I work with. It is compounded by them all dressing virtually identically: darkish slacks, blue or white shirt… ALL of them. Seriously guys have some imagination!

          1. EditorInChief*

            Yup, me too. When I started my current job for the first month I had two co-workers who looked exactly alike to me. They both sat near me so every day I would write on a post-it what what color shirt/pants each was wearing.

          2. sfigato*

            Middle aged white dude. I recently gave a presentation with another white dude who had similar hair/facial hair as me, and someone came up to me after the presentation clearly thinking I was the other dude. We were standing right next to one another. It was awkward.

        2. fiverx313*

          that’s the category i have the most trouble with too, at this job and a previous one… dozens of women in their late 20s/early 30s with long brown hair… and at my previous job they nearly all had names ending in Y-sounds (Jenny, Marcy, Kristy, etc)… i’m bad enough with names as it is, lol

          1. fiverx313*

            compounding that, is i am apparently very distinctive to people so i usually have tons of people greeting me by name while i’m struggling to remember meeting them in the first place. :/

      2. selena81*

        It’s probably just me, but i find it kinda stalkerish when someone remembers smalltalk from months ago.
        I suppose that’s mostly caused by way too much involuntary interaction with social service people: they very obviously all learned that trick at school (‘write down personal info and remark upon it at the next visit’).

        It irks me because it makes me feel like an animal that is to be manipulated into better behavior with pretend-friendship, instead of a person whom you might just *tell* ‘so hey, i think you are not getting the job you want because you dress terrible’.

        Also: despite constantly writing down these details (during the conversation) they still manage to get half of it wrong. Which drives home the ‘our friendship is fake and i do not really care, but you are not allowed to complain because i have good intentions’ aspect of the relationship.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      I like this advice in my day-to-day social life, but not so much for a professional setting – especially a meeting! I hate small talk and I imagine a legitimate conversation that gets us to a genuinely memorable thing about me (like “I’m a semi-professional brewer”) would take more meeting time that I want to spend.

      But I’m also one of those “meeting sticklers” that avoids meetings as much as I can and am constantly going “SO ANYWAYS” whenever someone gets off track. Haha xD

  5. AnonAndOn*

    Will follow this thread. I have the same issue with people forgetting my name and forgetting me.

    1. BeenThere*

      I think many of us do…. including me too!

      p.s. the most disheartening way I finally got remembered was when I went to work in a different location at my husband’s HUGE (international with hundreds of locations) employer and people remembered me when someone would say, “You know, Richard’s wife.” Ugh.

    2. A Non E. Mouse*

      People usually remember me due to my unusual name, but they have a hard time marrying my “in person” person with my “written communication” person, and it’s….baffling.

      I have a very distinctive writing voice, and I have been told my whole darn life – from people that “read” me first – that I am nothing like they imagined when they meet me.

      I have no idea how to reconcile those things!

    3. gmg22*

      Same here. I have a running joke with close friends that I really should have gone into intelligence (or smuggling, hahah) as a career, because I am so good at flying under the radar. Almost no one ever remembers me on a second meeting. In light of that, I think some of the comments about body projection, posture, etc are of particular interest. A good friend once observed, when we had this conversation, that she does notice that I have an ability to efface myself in some social situations, to sort of fade into the woodwork. I suspect it’s a self-defense mechanism learned as a sensitive kid. I am chatty and ebullient with people whom I know well. But sometimes nervous chatter comes out when I first meet people, too — and often then there’s a subliminal “whoops, I might have just made myself look like an idiot” thing that happens, which I think a close observer would read in the evolution of my body language.

      1. Chinookwind*

        “In light of that, I think some of the comments about body projection, posture, etc are of particular interest. A good friend once observed, when we had this conversation, that she does notice that I have an ability to efface myself in some social situations, to sort of fade into the woodwork.”

        I like to joke that invisibility on demand is my super power. I tried it once in junior high where I sat with my classmates and the teacher literally put everyone on a team except for me. He didn’t notice I wasn’t on the floor for 10 minutes until I “turned it off” at which point he came over and asked why I wasn’t participating (and apologized when I told him what happened. I can be loud and brash when I want to be, but I do think that some of us have the ability to “dial down our aura” that we learned at an early age when we don’t like being the centre of attention.

        If the OP, and others, can practice internally “dialing up” their presence by doing things like straitening your shoulders, pushing your chest up, and pretending you are wearing a giant armour around you that you need to support with your body, it may help. I have heard it called “walking like a white guy who no one is going to stop.”

  6. Legal Rugby*

    I don’t know how to address the larger issue, but I do want to address the “forgetting seems to be gender neutral.”

    Similar to the issues raised earlier today, that’s because men and women are socialized to the same standard. The women who are forgetting you are taught – just like the men – that in your world, men have the power and are the names that should be remembered.

    Separately, I would work on being comfortable re-introducing yourself. It sucks. It does. But I work in a similar social structure, and I had to practice saying “Hey, I’m legal Rugby, I’m the one who…” or “Hi, I’m horrible with names so I’m legalRugby, and we worked together on X”

    Even if they don’t remember me by name, giving them context, and an out for not remembering starts the conversation off on better footing for them to be open to what I’m saying. Especially when networking with them later. I give them a tidbit they can use to introduce me to others, especially if, even if they dont remember me, I know their experience on that product or interaction was positive.

    1. JMH*

      Great points – head off issues before they become problems! Love this proactive and positive attitude.

      1. Legal Rugby*

        I went to law school with a guy who was comfortable saying “I’m sorry, I know we’ve been in school together for three years, but I can’t remember your name…”

        It blew me away, I would have been terrified. But people loved him, and responded so positively to his honesty that I started being more upfront. It got a lot easier.

        1. Dragoning*

          Yes! I also find if I start a conversation with “I’m sorry, I’m probably going to forget your name” I’m actually less likely to, because then we have a conversation about it, and they laugh.

        2. JanetM*

          I have, for years now, socialized with people by sticking out my hand and saying, “Hi, I know we’ve met, I’ve lost your name, I’m Janet.” (My memory used to be a lot better than it is now, sadly. I try, but short of keeping a — huh, you know, that might work. Keep a notebook and write down people’s names and a description as soon as I meet them.)

          1. sophikita*

            I literally do this. I make a note on my phone when I meet someone with their name. Should add something memorable too as I inevitably forget their name again!

        3. GS*

          My mom is great at this. She always says “I’m sorry, please help me out…” and people love it, maybe because it gives them permission to have forgotten too.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          This so much this.
          And as the decades roll by you will need this skill. It stops being “nice skill to have” and moves to “absolute necessity for navigating conversations”. My theory is that we can only hold so many names and after that we forget one or two for each new name we add. Joking. Kind of.

          It’s been 20 years since I have seen some people. If they did not introduce themselves and remind me, forget it. I would not recognize them. A lot happens between 35 and 55. One person had gotten shorter than me. This person used to be an inch or two taller. My visual cue used to be his height. yikes.

          Meanwhile, as someone mentioned above, be that one person who remembers everyone’s name and face. This is a very powerful thing and it’s a sleeper. Keep doing it, keep remembering people’s names and face. Practice in front of the mirror if you have to “I remember you, we worked on X together back in 2013. You had gotten a new pup and we got a small award for our work.”
          See, we verify who we are by being able to come up with details regarding the time/place. And we also help them to think along. “OH, now I remember, I got Fluffy that year and you were the one who got a flat tire on your car one day.” Saying a few sentences may also help a person to remember your voice and then remember you. I can have a bit of an ear for voices, I might recognize a voice before I recognize a person.

        5. Videogame Lurker*

          As a substitute teachers aide, I work for five elementary schools, and have a hard time remembering student names without prompting, but I always say “I’m sorry, I work with all of you guys at all of the schools, can you remind what your name is?”
          And if someone gets upset, I smile and say “It’s a good thing sometimes, means I didn’t have to talk to you on the playground about following the rules.”

          Coworkers, on the other hand, I remember their last names first (because that’s what the kids call them Miss/Mrs./Mr./Mz. Surname), and I tend to default to their last names with an apology for not recalling their first name.

          I find that I’m memorable more for being a huge fan of Star Wars, and know a lot about Pokemon, and some similar things (to the kids chagrin and awe at the same time, because I know what they mean by “But we’re just playing Dragonball!” But I can also engage them in conversations about it too).

          OP, maybe talking about a particular (safe-for-work, whatever that may mean for your field) hobby of yours might help?

          Unfortunately, I am a name-forgetter, and may have to reintroduce myself to a person before I get a general idea of how that person looks (not sure why, but I recall a shirt a person wears, or a hair style, before color of hair or faces).

    2. ArtsNerd*

      I was going to propose re-introducing yourself as a strategy to be more rememberable (in addition to heading off the social awkwardness.) “Hi, we met at X meeting but it’s been awhile. I’m Rosa.” “Hi, it’s nice to see your face again after all those emails! I almost forgot what you look like. I’m Rosa.”

      My hypothesis is that this will frequently trigger one or more of the following reactions:
      • Connecting the two meetings in their memory, cementing them in their longer-term memory.
      • Embarrassment at having had not recognized you, which frequently leads to mental note-taking to avoid that in the future (plus the emotion associated with that experience makes it more vivid.)
      • A generally positive impression at how considerate you are in doing so.

      Even if I’m way off, I think it’s well worth doing to head off the issue at the pass as you’ve pointed out.

      I got into the habit of doing this as a way to fish out people’s names who I’ve forgotten, but it’s a terrible tactic for that, FWIW. I either get “Of course I remember you, Rosa!” or “Thanks! I couldn’t place how I knew you / your name” without reciprocation. But those experiences have pushed me to be much more comfortable actively apologizing when I forget names, and when I belatedly realize I’ve met someone before and act like they’re new to me. I do it with whatever amount of chagrin is appropriate for the lapse, and it’s generally really well received. I recommend it.

    3. ECHM*

      Not quite the same thing, but I had a friend (Susie) whose mother-in-law (Jane) was a retired teacher. When they would go to events, Susie would greet people with “Hi, I’m Susie! And you are?” which would then furnish the name for Jane, who may have forgotten that student.

  7. ExcelJedi*

    I should start with the assurance that I’m not being glib.

    I’m a kind of shy white woman in my 30’s. I’ve had the same experience, for the most part. But since I got an interesting (blue) haircut, it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. (This was something I wanted for myself, and had for a while, but does make me stand out a bit.) People remember memorable visual cues as much as anything else – whether it’s a particularly colorful wardrobe, a slightly off-fashion accessory (I have coworkers who wear brooches or signature scarves), or something else.

    I’m only throwing that out there with the assumption that you’re already speaking up in meetings, providing interesting ideas, giving quality work, etc., and you just need an extra oomph to supplement that, of course.

    1. Murphy*

      Ha, I don’t know if this is actionable advice for everyone, but I have bright red hair, and I was actually thinking the same thing! I send out a lot of email announcements throughout or organization, and people actually recognize me in person even if we haven’t met, because I’m pretty easy to spot.

      1. Anon Amiss*

        I was also going to say that visual cues help – a less common hair color/cut can make women stand out, whether it’s bright red, near-white blonde*, or colors not found in nature. Same for a spikey ‘do, or whatever.

        If you’re not comfortable changing your hair, consider wearing a stand-out color on meeting days. I’ll often wear a red jacket for important meetings or networking events because it stands out in a sea of black and grey. I give myself bonus points for wearing a different red jacket to the follow up meeting. You might even be able to distinguish yourself with a bright red lip, if you’re good at that. Clearly, I’m a fan of red – it’s an attention-getting color. But if you have (or can pull off) a signature color that’s work appropriate, try that. It doesn’t always work, but can’t hurt.

        I also suggest adding people on LinkedIn, and having your picture in your LinkedIn profile. That way if they want to refresh their memory on which person you were at the meeting, they can do so discreetly. Depending on their settings and your activity, they may get updates on you, which could be good or bad.

        *May not work if you are surrounded by all of the bottle blondes from Real Housewives of Orange County

      2. Alex the Alchemist*

        Agreed! I have bright teal hair and I’ve always been remembered pretty easily after it happened (although one time there was a man with whom I had three different classes with who still didn’t know who I was, but I think that was more of a him thing than a me thing)

    2. Brownie*

      This is my experience too. I was completely forgettable until I started dyeing my hair cotton candy pink. Since I started doing that it’s not only caused people to remember me, but has actually made a huge positive effect on my career. I don’t blend in with the rest of the generic IT jeans & polo shirt wearing crowd anymore so when I show up at meetings and contribute people remember that it was me who made the contribution, especially the higher-ups and bigwigs. I do take some pains to always dress a little nicer/more stylish now to offset any perception of unprofessional appearance caused by the pink hair, but that’s a minor matter since I’ve always dressed a little nicer than my coworkers out of personal preference anyways.

      1. MsSolo*

        I found it very hard to have a bad day with pink hair. No matter what’s going on, you catch sight of your reflection and it’s like “why yes, I’m a cartoon character, nothing can be that bad!” If it wasn’t so high maintenance for me I would 100% go back to it.

        1. ExcelJedi*

          This! I look in the mirror and see someone from a comic book, and I couldn’t be happier!

          1. Brownie*

            I laugh that it’s made me the protagonist of my own personal anime, but in a way it really has. Even in normal everyday tasks, like the grocery store or visiting a farmer’s market, suddenly I’m not just part of the crowd. Instead I’m noticed, interacted with, get more attentive service… and all because I stand out visually more than those around me. It’s fascinating from a people-watching standpoint and does make my life easier. Plus I look awesome!

    3. RES ADMIN*

      That is in line with my experience as well. When I just dressed and looked “neat, clean, professional” I was easily forgettable. I got purple highlights in my hair about 10-15 years ago. They are subtle and don’t even stand out that obviously against my naturally dark hair–however it is enough that it is something people remember.

      I also have a tendency to dress to suit myself. Always “neat, clean, professional” and always as nice or nicer than those around me…but at some point, even though it changes over time, it became a “signature” of sorts: some people remember me because I wear cute shoes or because I wear dresses or I usually wear cardigans or my nails are always done (in a darker color)…most people pick up on one or two of those things and remember me because of it. As I ended up explaining once, it is typically ok to have one or two subtle “quirky” things going on in your appearance, as long as the rest is by the book professional.

      None of this is anything I have done intentionally, I have just noticed over the years how things have changed with how I am perceived–esp. once I started working with a broader and broader customer base.

      The other thing, as has also been mentioned, is always ask people about themselves–and find a way to truly be interested in what they say. Smile. Make eye contact. Ask follow up questions. If you want to be remembered, you also want to be remembered as someone who is nice, personable, and interesting to talk to (and, for most people, they are their own most interesting topic).

    4. MsSolo*

      I was going to say the same – once I started dying my hair fantasy colours (currently turquoise, intend to go purple this weekend), I became much more memorable! It’s surprised me sometimes, when a stranger approaches because they recognised me from an event we both attended but never interacted at (“You also went to the conference, didn’t you? Do you know how to get back to the station from here?” kind of thing) and it’s made me conscious about what I do where, but even if people don’t remember my name or what I do, they know they’ve seen me before!

    5. Sarah*

      The first week or two my hair was purple it was a COMPLETE mystery to me how people remembered me. I was starting grad school and we had a mixer and as a professor left, he apologized for not getting time to chat with me and promised to make it up to me later. I wondered the whole way home how on Earth he could tell he hadn’t talked to me, marveling and how amazing he was with faces. Then I got home, saw myself in a mirror, and said, “Ooooooooooh.”

    6. CTT*

      I’ve never dyed my hair, but when I cut it into a pixie the trainers at my gym started to remember who I was, as I was no longer the 100th Brunette In A Ponytail they had seen that morning.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yep. I’ve learned that I am apparently less memorable since I started wearing my curly hair straight.

    8. Neosmom*

      To echo ExcelJedi’s other responders about accessories, when I was working retail and had a long hair, I pulled it back into a ponytail or coil using a barrette that would hold a brightly colored scarf. My customers always remembered me because of my service (we were all good) and the “big bow” on my head.

    9. epi*

      This is actually the advice I was scrolling down to give.

      A common reason for people to forget you is they are mixing you up with someone else or are not sure who you are. Times in my career this has happened to me, I could usually identify one or two other women I was close to that was superficially similar to me– similar name or clothes or job or a combination. The OP does say she resembles many women in her field, as well.

      I met one of my best friends in a job where there were two of us in the same role. We didn’t physically resemble each other but we were the same age, same job, close friends, and both wearing safe, mix and matchable office wear for women in their 20s and 30s. I think 90% of both our wardrobes in that job were from Express and The Limited. Last time we hung out, she was wearing the same print but a different cut of a blouse I own! People at that job often called us by each other’s name or referred to us collectively as “the girls”.

      You don’t have to get blue hair to stop having a twin. Depending on your context, you can bring in a little more personal style, develop a new office uniform that is appropriate but not the go-to for most of the people around you, or pick a specific color or type of garment to make a signature thing. Look around at who might be your twin and see if there are alternatives you like to whatever it is you’re doing the same. For meetings and special events it’s actually really easy to have a capsule wardrobe and just make it a distinctive one so you don’t have to always be thinking about that.

      Also for meetings and events specifically, I would talk to my boss about this issue. Maybe there’s a way to make sure you get to be part of the presentation more often, or differentiate you more from your colleague in the way you describe your roles. The boss may also have more insight into how the OP is coming across in general.

    10. Project Manager*

      I wear skirts and dresses almost exclusively and always wear patterned tights. Everyone remembers me. I didn’t start doing it because of that, but it is a handy side effect to keep me from disappearing into the crowd.

  8. mx. mayor pereyra*

    You say you dress like most other women in your field. Maybe try a more memorable, but still professional, look. People just need 1 thing about you that sticks in their minds in order to remember meeting you. If they remember “lady with that lovely patterned scarf,” it’ll be a sort of bookmark for the rest of your encounter.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Or share something non-work-related: quick, casual and ideally a bit funny–“did you taken by surprise in the rain and get soaked yesterday too, or was it just me?”

    2. mable*

      I agree – a bright signature accessory, an interesting haircut, or some sort of unique identifying feature will help others remember you in a sea of faces. In my profession, there is a prominent executive who has braces, and another that has an entire wardrobe of bright, interesting glasses to coordinate with each outfit. Both of these execs are well-known and well-remembered. It may sound silly but in the context of a conference where you may be meeting dozens of people in a day, visual cues make a difference.

    3. GG Two shoes*

      I have that, kind of. I wear pretty neutral clothing and make-up/hair styles but I almost always wear bright red/pink or burgundy lipstick. I think it makes me look a little different from other folks my age and I happen to think it looks classy.

    4. asleep or maybe dead*

      Yes, came here to say this.
      I have had somewhat similar experiences, and I mostly address it thinking about my professional persona as a character design challenge.
      Visually, you can change your looks or adopt unique accessories (I am often recognized by my choices of stationary and glasses).
      Then, you can work contextually to link yourself to something they will remember easily. I like to introduce myself mentioning my division, imediate higher-up (who’s well-known) or the project we are currently working at, whichever is more relevant. Personal anedoctes may help as well. And I usually greet people with “hey, long time since last-project-we-worked-together” or “hey, thanks for replying my e-mail about so-and-so so promptly”, or something like that. Sometimes you can see the look of relief in people’s faces.

  9. Pollygrammer*

    People forget me all the time–common name, inconspicuous appearance. (I’ve joked that I should really have been a spy). It’s never especially bothered me–but I’ve also never felt like I’ve missed out on networking or something else that would be useful. I would probably just shrug and assume that the burden was going to be on me a little more to reach out and stay connected.

    As far as it being dishearting/humiliating: hey, these randos just don’t really matter. So if they forget who I am…eh, whatever.

  10. fposte*

    Oh, this is fascinating. This happens a fair bit in my field too; I think it’s because we tend fall into types.

    I don’t know how translatable this is, but in my field what makes a big difference is individual rep in the field and not just at the employer–you’ve got an online presence, you’ve done writing, you’ve done professional association service. Then they have a memory note for you already. Is there any kind of equivalent you could pursue?

    1. ArtsNerd*

      This is a great idea! There are so many times when people will ask me if I know Shorten Stout and I’ll say “we haven’t met but I’ve definitely seen their byline” or “they work on those Teapot Meetups right? I keep meaning to go, but am always so tired of talking teapots in the evenings.”

      I sometimes recognize people from that stuff who have absolutely expectation of being recognizable (freelance journalists and choreographers spring to mind in particular) and it’s a tricky balance between complimenting their work and seeming a little bit creepy.

  11. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    I realize this may not work for the LWs situation across the board, but have A Thing.

    When I first started at my job, I had trouble getting to know people. I take a while to open up and I did not fit in at ALL (youngest, unmarried, one of 4 women, no kids). So My Thing was a bowl of different flavored M&Ms on my desk and joking about coffee.

    I realize this isn’t practical in meetings or all the time. But maybe it could be incorporated somehow…interesting bag? Cool pins/brooches?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I am so glad to see the multiple cool brooch suggestions, because that was where my mind went for a neat signature look I’ve always admired on other people.

      1. sigh*

        I have one that’s become my everyday piece. It has a loop on the back so it can be worn as a necklace too. I get a ton of compliments on it. I suggest Etsy, and don’t be afraid to ask for something custom if you like someone’s work. The original image of mine was in gold and diamonds. Way too rich for my public servant salary. But the jeweler was willing to duplicate it in silver with stones of my choosing.

    2. RainyDay*

      Chiming in on the coffee bit – I have a French press at my desk, and I’m fairly certain people who have never worked with me directly know me as The Girl with the French Press. It makes for excellent kitchen conversation.

    3. Anonamoose*

      Extra points if you start using your brooches as coded messages, like the Queen does. The twitter thread about her brooch choice for the POTUS visit was fire.

  12. anonarama*

    Same thing happens to me and I’ve just gotten very comfortable being like “hey Harold great to see you again. last time we spoke was about blah blah boring blah right?”

  13. LibraryDrone*

    I have one colleague who told me the reason she wears large earrings is because people always remember her for them, and another who dyed a pink streak in her hair for the same reason (might be more acceptable in children’s book publishing than other fields).

    We’d all rather be remembered for our accomplishments than our statement jewelry or hair, but this could be a quick fix?

    1. Christmas Carol*

      But would we be telling a male letter writer to put a pink streak in her hair, or wear bigger earrings, or a pretty scarf?

      1. Morning Glory*

        But, the LW is a woman, and looking for advice on how to improve her own, specific situation.

        And for the record, I can see commenters advising a male LW to adopt a memorable accessory, like a patterned tie or a whimsical cufflinks.

        1. A.*

          Yes I used to work with a man who always wore bowties when everyone else had regular ties. Another man always wore colorful socks you could see when he sat d0wn. Another guy always had cool unique looking eye glasses. In a sea of black or navy suits, they stood out. They were memorable because of their accessories. The rush to condemn people for offering useful suggestions can get very tiring.

          1. EditorInChief*

            Yes to bowties! A guy in my office rocks the hell out of bowties and I’m always happy to see him just to get a look at the bowtie du jour.

          2. Not A Morning Person*

            My SO wears a pretty unique travel hat and cowboy boots regularly, not daily, but often enough. He is known in his building even by people in different organizations as “the cowboy” and everyone knows who he is even if they don’t necessarily know his name and even when he’s not wearing said clothing choices.

      2. LQ*

        Yes, possibly. I knew a guy who wore a bowtie for exactly this reason. Everyone seemed to sort of forget him. Once he started wearing the bowtie he became …the guy with the bowtie and the rest of his stuff tied to that in people’s minds. He did much better professionally after becoming bowtie man. He was also fairly quiet and people started to use words like thoughtful rather than quiet after. So yes, I think I would.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Bow ties.
          Exciting ties a la flying toasters.
          Hawaiian shirts.
          Bright (insert color) wardrobe piece that became a signature.

          Men have less leeway in what they can vary in their appearance and still be work acceptable, but I think this is gender neutral advice.

          1. Red Reader*

            My housemate (male) and I (female) both wear Disney pins when we work onsite at our respective workplaces. Garden variety characters on regular days, something a little tamer for face-times with the grandboss. (My favorite is a pair of Mickey hands forming a heart – fairly subtle, small, and matches my mostly black/white/red work wardrobe quite well.)

        2. Persimmons*

          I worked with a guy whose job was very behind-the-scenes (and he was only noticed when things went to pot, so doing a good job meant fading into the background). He started wearing non-cloth ties, and suddenly everyone remembered him. The guy wearing a tie made of wood stands out.

      3. LinesInTheSand*

        I might. I just came from a work social event where I was meeting a lot of people new to my company so I introduced myself to the guy next to me who said, “Actually, we sat on the same floor for a few years.” I was mortified.

        Our company has a lot of mid 30s white guys who wear company sweat shirts and I’m terrible at remembering people to begin with. I don’t suggest hair dye in general, but particularly since he and I didn’t work together or interact, pink streaks would have certainly gone a long way in helping me remember him.

        1. Alice*

          I get that sometimes — introducing myself to someone I don’t recognize and getting back “we’ve met before,” period. When a person’s response boils down to “you are wrong that we are strangers” with nothing else, the conversation wilts pretty quick. So, OP, when people forget you (and I hope everyone’s suggestions help you get to a place where it happens less frequently), I encourage you to respond, “actually, we’ve met before. Last time we were talking about X.” Or “Actually, we’ve met before. I’m excited to be working on project Y with you again.” Of course you don’t have to pretend that you really are strangers, but try to move the conversation on to something substantive (work or social). Good luck!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Good point, try to steer the conversation to the next topic, so it feels like less of a big deal for the both of you. You can tell yourself that at least the person stopped to talk for a moment. Some people don’t remember and move right along.

        2. Essess*

          Similarly, I received a promotion at OldJob after I’d worked there for a year so I moved from a low-totem job into a management position. On my first management day, I had a co-worker walk up and “welcome” me to the company and ask if I was new or if I’d transferred from another location. I did get angry and point out to them that I had said good morning to them EVERY SINGLE morning for the previous year when they walked past me to punch the time clock.

      4. MoldyWart*

        Nope! We’d be telling him to either grow a pair, or get some interesting ties and socks (see: fun, colorful).
        Earrings are my preferred way – it draws their eyes toward my face and offers a segue to a memorable conversation.

      5. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        I work with so many men and male clients that yes, their appearance quirks become their defining factor for me. One guy wears shiny/metallic ties. One of them has extra long sideburns. Brightly colored socks, brightly colored shirts, unique glasses….men have tons of options too.

      6. Owlette*

        I sure would! My husband wears sparkly earrings for this reason :) As for me, I’m a really boring person, but people remember me because I love to wear bright red lipstick. To LibraryDrone’s point, it actually helps people remember my accomplishments more! Sure they remember “lipstick lady” before they remember my name, but my coworkers all know I’m pretty awesome at my job.

      7. The Ginger Ginger*

        I’d be telling a male letter writer to wear brighter color shirts/color and patterned ties. Maybe have an interesting watch or slap a nice vest on. If he wanted to dye his hair green and could, go for it. The concept is the same, it’s just that men typically aren’t big jewelry wearers, and professional dress for men isn’t as flexible. The pink in that example is pink because that’s the color the wearer picked. In another example upthread, the wearer dyed their hair blue.

        I’m not saying there’s not some type of sexism at play in the forgetting (there certainly could be), but the solution of finding a visual way to stick out isn’t necessarily sexist.

      8. JustaTech*

        I might tell a man to wear a fancy pocket square (or crazy socks), and around here, yeah, I might suggest a colored streak (although in this area it might not set you apart).

        Actually in my industry I would probably say to a guy who wanted to stand out “stop wearing graph-paper shirts”. In any industry there tends to be a commonality of dress (though it may be different for men and women), so if you want to stand out visually you need to identify the standard and take a deliberate step away.

        1. Persimmons*

          A few guys I work with have started wearing graph-paper patterned dress shirts with checks that vary in size like a wave. I guess it’s supposed to be an optical illusion. It actually makes me nauseated and I have to look away.

      9. Thursday Next*

        I actually think it’s harder for men to stand out appearance-wise in most contexts; there’s a much narrower band of professionally acceptable personal style, and I for one mix up men more than I mix up women, precisely because I’m relying on alterable physical cues, and not, say, facial structure. But a lot of the advice here for standing out isn’t gendered.

        For instance, blue hair wouldn’t fly in a conservative industry regardless of gender, but when it can be used, it stands out—again, regardless of gender.

        Or memorable accessories—the person who always carries a Bollywood-themed tote bag is going to be remembered. Ditto for the colorful sock or glasses wearer, the person who always wears funky fingerless gloves, or the person who always wears cardigans in the office.

  14. anon for this*

    A friend of mine with a fairly generic name (like “John Smith” levels of common) in an overwhelmingly white and casual field, when he was first getting started, literally distributed business cards that said: “[John Smith]: black man, glasses, tie.”

    He has in the years since become quite successful! And I never, ever forgot him or that first meeting, haha.

    (When I was in that field I also stood out, for being a woman and having a traditionally female name.)

    It is true that what others say, about one interesting, standout physical attribute, can make a memory linger. I really like the brightly-colored scarf idea because it can be professional in pretty much most environments, while being *just enough* of a memory trigger.

    1. Artemesia*

      I started paying attention to this when I was mistaken for a colleague at a huge conference I was organizing. At first I was sort of insulted as I feel distinctive and like I project personality in groups and felt I looked nothing like this dowdy older women, but then I looked at the colleague — an older, tall woman with a business suit and short dark hair and glasses and realized that we looked ‘alike’ in the way that two middle age black guys, or two Asians, or two blond interns look ‘alike’ and so started paying attention to accessories as a way of being distinctive.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      A friend knew a John Smith who got one of the first gmail addresses, John Smith at gmail dot com. The most popular fake email address, or just about…

    3. pleaset*

      My father (black guy) was mistaken for the Chancellor of the NYC Department of Education at a big education event in the city some years ago – he dressed far more formally than most people in education, and was one of the few older black men in the room. What made it even funnier was that the real chancellor had died a few month prior….

      He was also at a big corporate event in NYC in the 1970s where the only black people there were very senior government officials from other countries, and he was getting all sorts of people coming over to him and saying ‘So good to see you here.’

      I raced bikes at a high regional level for awhile, and was at a big event where some people came running over to me thinking I was one of the few black professionals in the sport….. I guess that was flattering.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Recently I stayed in my “late seating” seat at a show in a fancy venue because it was better than my ticketed seat. After intermission, an Asian gentleman in a tux sat next to me and I unthinkingly asked him if he worked there. I was immediately embarrassed because it would be TERRIBLE if he were simply dressed formally because the venue was prestigious. Fortunately, he was in the orchestra and I got to geek out with him for the rest of the intermission.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        Oof sorry, I jumped on your attire anecdote without properly reading the rest of your comment. I’m sorry that happens to you and I hope folks are appropriately embarrassed when they’re corrected.

    4. FactoryTour*

      I have a similar problem- my business partner and I are superficially very similar looking. Both tall white women, same age and body type, features similar enough that we are sometimes taken for sisters. Our names are somewhat similar too- slightly unusual/old fashioned with the same vowel/consonant pattern and three syllables. We are frequently confused for each other, and so we’ve decided that we can never have the same hairstyle- currently she has a dark pixie cut and I have a reddish blonde wavy bob. We have to let each other know every time we’re considering a big change.

  15. LinesInTheSand*

    I may be way off base with all of this.

    How do you introduce yourself? Jo Miller has a good template for this, and it revolves around presenting yourself in terms of your responsibility.

    “I’m LinesInTheSand and I am responsible for a, b, c. Come to me directly with questions about x, y, z.”

    I’ll further suggest that, if applicable, you frame your work in terms of the problems you solve instead of, or in addition to, the products you produce. People are always more likely to remember things and people that relate directly to themselves.

    1. Lisa Simpson*

      I noticed years ago that people would only call me by my first name. Then I realized it’s because that’s how I introduced myself. Now I always say my first and last name.

    2. Krissy*

      I really, really appreciate this idea in the sea of comments tied to the OP’s appearance. Very thoughtful.

      1. LinesInTheSand*

        Yeah, I get where everyone is coming from with all that, and it makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

        And I dye my hair. I do it for my own personal amusement, and it ain’t cheap and it takes a lot of time. I’m sure it helps people remember me, but I wouldn’t ever suggest it as a quick and easy fix for something like this.

        1. mskyle*

          I see where people are coming from with the appearance stuff: it’s basically about giving people a sort of “hook” to hang their memory of you on. I think it’s fine if that *includes* some visual stuff but it’s even better if it includes some stuff you’d actually like people to remember about you as well as something visual.

          Like, basically, come up with the way you would like people to remember you, and then promote that idea when you introduce yourself and interact with them.

    3. AMPG*

      I came in to suggest something similar. Having a one-sentence “elevator pitch” for yourself will both give people some important identifying details to remember you by AND help counteract the soft-spoken trait that is probably helping you fade into the background at meetings a bit.

      Another thing to try is to have a strong goodbye: “Great meeting, Sally! I’ll be sure to follow up with you about [Important Topic]!” That way the person leaves the encounter with you fresh on their mind.

    4. anonymouse*

      Yes, I can confirm that this helps. I have a couple different elevator pitch introductions, depending on which project the meeting is about, so something like Hi I’m anonymous and I color the teapots in this project. Or Hi, I’m anonymous and I’ll design the shape of our new teacups.

      I just try to pick from the different tasks that I do the one that I feel will be most relevant to the other people in the meeting.

      And it helps. They remember me.

  16. JerryLarryTerryGary*

    I would allow your picture to be seen in your email system if that’s an option- and make sure it looks like you.
    Also, wear something distinctive for external meetings and conferences. The same colorful scarf, brooch, red-rimmed glasses, purple hair streak- a visual for people to latch onto.
    It’s hard to get a good handle on people you don’t see. Last place I worked at, most men looked roughly the same age, same haircut, same race and similar wardrobe- it was hard for me to distinguish between people I had limited, sporadic contact with.

    1. Artemesia*

      When I taught undergrad college classes with mostly women, I quickly knew the names of the men, the minorities, those with red hair or curly hair, then the brunette women and it took me forever to know the names of the dozen or more beautiful blond women with long hair. On one occasion I really struggled with the last two until my TA pointed out that they were in fact identical twins. We see people first by type and then differentiate. So we need to figure out how to make ourselves distinctive if we want people to remember us specifically.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        When I helped out in my daughter’s classroom I quickly learned all the girls’ names but the boys were more amorphous, which I put down to their all being about the same size with short brownish hair–unless one was “the redhead” or some other unique identifier, they blended. But then my son started school, I helped in his classroom, and I learned the boys quickly and the girls were amorphous longer. So there was some sort of sorting algorithm my brain used that filtered it through their similarities to my child.

        I am not face blind, but on that spectrum–awful at recognizing faces. And in social settings I have the reverse of OP’s experience, where people I haven’t interacted with in years remember me. (“Your child went to X preschool!”) Almost certainly for my distinctive coloring, which takes no effort on my part–the people advising OP to try for something distinctive in her appearance are onto something,

      2. pleaset*

        I was the only black person at a university with perhaps 30,000 students, faculty and staff. Probably one of about 500 black people in a city of 8 or so million.

        THAT was interesting.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          So, you knew ALL the other black people, right? As well as every black person in the US?

          A couple of decades I totally got the “you must know” thing in a weird way: Someone wanted to deliver a letter to someone else in town, and knew they were gay, so they brought the letter to our recently-opened Lesbian Gay Community Center to be delivered. As though all we all had mail slots there, you know? (That was an odd one. Happily we were able to hand it back to her before she left.)

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, putting the picture in your email only goes so far when you are part of a common category of people — it’s too small to necessarily get someone’s face in your head, and in my field, “white woman, brown hair, glasses” covers a lot of ground!

      I think re-introducing yourself to people is never a bad call — it provides cover if either one of you don’t remember the other’s name, so I feel like it works both up and down the chain of command. If I tell BigWig my name, I’m conscientious, and if I tell New Junior Person my name, I’m friendly.

    3. Kat in VA*

      I ran into that problem with at LastJob. Specifically two men – both of them were very big, very burly guys (think linebacker big), both were in Sales but in different areas, both had booming voices, and were somewhat similar in facial features. And their names both started with an R, which made it even more difficult.

      I finally got it right because one was Marine Rob and the other was Rifle Rich – and both monikers were (privately, in my head) bestowed due to a conversation about how my grandfather with in the Marines with Rob (and he was a Marine) and Rich was very into firearms, so I showed him a pic of me with my newest acquisition.

      One of the issues I had with being the new person (and hopefully very soon I will have this “problem” again, fingers crossed!) is that most everyone knows everyone else at the office already, so I’m the new person and I stand out. Therefore, it’s easy for them to remember MY name. However, on the other end, I have to learn anywhere from 20 to, say, 50 people that I’ll interact with on a regular basis and in those first few weeks/months, they all blur together.

      Usually I use a deprecating smile and say, “I’m sorry, I’ve met SO many people since I started, can you refresh my memory with your name again?” and I’ve never had anyone take offense. Everyone gets their own mnemonic (in my head, obviously) and it eventually makes it easier. Linda with the purple glasses, Sarah who always wears a scarf even on hot days, Robert with the red hair, and so on.

  17. Lisa Simpson*

    I recommend doing a lot more self-promotion (in a humble way). I regularly publish results-oriented reports on my work and push these to my entire organization with special emphasis on making sure senior-level folks and colleagues who have influence see these.

    I also send people cards when they get a promotion, new job, or are new to the organization. I also take time to remember personal details of people’s lives, such as their kids’ names, something they told me about their spouse, etc. And I make note of important dates in people’s lives. For example, one of my coworkers mentioned a big athletic competition coming up. I made a note of the date (it was a Saturday) and messaged him on the Friday before wishing him luck. It’s kind of like what Dale Carnegie said, if you become genuinely interested in people, they take noticed.

    Finally, I take on extra projects and also organize fun social events.

  18. Kisses*

    I don’t want this to have to focus on your appearance vs your merits especially as a woman. But maybe you can have something kind of like a calling card? Maybe a patterned scarf that you wear when meeting people? Or brooches like the Queen of England. Pink scented business card perhaps (I kid!)
    Again, though, I want to think of something based around your work. Don’t let this bring you down! You sound like you’re very good at your career.
    At least they don’t remember you like you’re in a Seinfeld episode. Man hands, Soft Talker, etc.

    I did a quick bit of research. Some suggestions included the wardrobe accessories for men and women, responding in an uncommon way to a common question (“how are you?” “I’m thrilled to be here” “great! I’ve actually been traveling a bit”). Another good suggestion is of course asking questions to the person that allows them to talk about themselves. Leave them wanting just a little more at the end of the convo if you can help it so they anticipate seeing you again. And I’m certain I don’t need to mention good eye contact, but it is a great way to get noticed a bit more.

    1. CMart*

      I think having less-common responses to common/rote questions is a great one.

      It works for me and I didn’t even realize until now that’s what I’m doing! I’m exceptionally unmemorable– I have one of those voices no one ever seems to hear regardless of how loudly I speak (a family curse), I’m a brown-haired white woman with glasses of average height, and nearly everyone I meet tries to figure out where they might know me from (hint: nowhere, I just look like everyone else). I even have a name that everyone else in my generation has like Jennifer or Lauren and a generic American last name.

      But the instant someone asks me “how’s it going?” they know exactly who I am because I guess I’m the eternal optimist who delights in small things. People remark with some frequency about how I’m always superfluously good (I’m awesome! I’m splendid! I’m fantastic!) and for the most random of reasons (there was a squirrel sitting on the hood of my car today, it was so cute! Dunkin Donuts had fresh maple donuts this morning! I got a good parking spot! The TPS reports arrived in numerical order for once!).

      So I’m Laurennifer Jones, The Cheerful One Who Never Has Problems. And it also helps that when I’m not in a good mood people take whatever my issue is extremely seriously.

  19. irene adler*

    It’s not about folks remembering you, it’s about you remembering them. And I don’t mean a name and title and knowing you both work on a project together. People can’t help but remember you if you take an interest in their work. In work conversations, be the person who recalls the idea Joan had at the last meeting and tell her how well this added value to the project (not in an obsequious manner). Over time Joan is going to remember you as someone who paid attention to her ideas. She’s going to want to remember who you are.

    1. fposte*

      I was thinking of that too–that greater engagement tends to result in a stronger connection in both directions. I think also that it’s worth the OP considering what her goal is here. For me, just being remembered as the woman with the big earrings wouldn’t be an advance, because I don’t care whether people remember my earrings or not. I want to be remembered for my contribution to the project and the team, and usually a dress detail isn’t going to make that kind of difference.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m not sure I agree entirely on that last part. For me at least, I’m a very visual person – I always remember people by something about their appearance which in my mind then ties into what they said and did. Weirdly, it’s much easier for me to remember things “around three corners”, as you’d say in my language, than to only remember one thing in the abstract, like an idea or someone’s thesis topic or whatever. I mean, I will remember a topic that was particularly interesting to me but dang if I can remember who actually held that highly interesting speech without some visual help in my brain. It would be a very normal thought process for me to go “fposte? Who was that again? Ah yes, the person with the big earrings! She’s the one who spoke about mental health metaphors in children’s literature!”.
        I don’t know how common something like that is, though!

        That being said, I agree wholeheartedly with you point about considering the goal. To me, however, it doesn’t seem so much like OP wants to be remembered for her contribution to the project and the team, but rather that she wants to be remembered at all. I feel like if there’s a choice between people not knowing OP from Eve and people at least remembering having seen her before, even if it’s just because of her colourful scarf, the latter is an improvement.

        1. Tau*

          Yep. It gives you a foot in the door – “oh, right, Eve, with the colourful scarf, I met her… oh yeah, it was that workshop about teashop spout handles, she gave that really great speech!” Human memory works via chains and associations, and even if the start of the chain isn’t flattering you can do your best to make sure the next few links reflect on you positively.

          This is something I’ve thought about because I’ve always known I’m very memorable for reasons out of my control; as mentioned downthread, I have a speech disorder, and in order to forget my existence you would have had to really not have been paying attention during introductions. I can’t change anything about the fact that the thing that will probably come to mind first when people think about me is “that person who seems to be at war with her own tongue, note to self never ask her to say her name ever again”, even though this is not the first impression I’d like to leave if I had the choice. (Stereotypes about stuttering: not great. Fun times.) But once people have first thoughts about me, they’re also likely to have second thoughts about me, and those I can try to make sure reflect on me more positively. All in all, I actually consider it the memorability aspect an advantage these days, and found myself really weirded out the few years after my last attempt at speech therapy where I could introduce myself without blocking.

    2. mf*

      This. It’s like that Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

      Make people feel good by being interested in their work (as well as in them as individuals). That level of engagement and kindness is uncommon–and very memorable.

  20. Audrey Puffins*

    Can you introduce yourself with a little sentence? Instead of “hello, I’m Cersei”, go with “hello, I’m Cersei, just like the Lannister queen!”. If you have something interesting or funny here, it might stick a little better than just a name. Also I second people who suggest projecting a little more (and if you have a fairly high-pitched voice, go to a lower part of your register, it’s easier for people to hear, and associate with confidence), and if you can integrate beautiful scarves into your wardrobe, or have an awesome laptop case or something, that might not be terrible either.

    1. Hey-eh*

      Haha this reminds me.. whenever I introduce myself with my last name to new people I do say a little sentence. It’s not so that they remember it.. it’s because my last name is the same as a pretty terrible disease that people are scared of so I like to just call it out and get it out there right away. Total defense habit from being teased as a kid.

    2. Anna Canuck*

      I really like this. A comment about the name that gets a repetition in can help it stick.
      Also, I struggle with remembering names. It takes concentration to get a name into a memory bank. It’s likely your audience has a lot going on in their heads with the purpose of the meeting – getting people to stop and remember it can take a few seconds.

    3. Iden Versio*

      Yes, this is a great idea! My real name is the same as a much-beloved Disney princess. I often introduce myself with some variation of, “Hi, my name is Elsa, just like the ice queen!” Even though I’m not fond of the princess with whom I share a name, it is an incredibly effective memory aid.

      1. Miss V*

        Not long after Frozen came out I went to dinner and the server was named Elsa and had long blonde hair. I asked her how many little kids started singing Let It Go when they saw her.

        She sighed heavily and said, ‘Every single one.’

  21. Everyone my age is named Jennifer or Stephanie*

    Hate to be superficial, but can you get a more distinctive haircut or come up with some other visual “trademark” that will help people remember you (bold statement jewelry, dressing in a specific, distinct color palette, specific bold lip color if makeup is your thing, etc.)?

    When I had shoulder-length brown hair, I was frequently forgotten, because basically every other woman in my field in my age group has shoulder-length brown or blonde hair, and I’m not otherwise physically distinctive. After I got a deep red pixie cut, lo and behold, no one forgets meeting me anymore.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      A really distinctive water bottle? (They make some very attractive water bottles these days, and I know I’ve complimented several). It could definitely come to every meeting with you without seeming weird.

      1. Alienor*

        I used to always know when my former boss was in the bathroom because I’d see her distinctive water bottle parked on the window ledge outside. Never got caught off guard at the sink!

    2. Iris Eyes*

      We humans are visual creatures it absolutely makes sense to appeal to a person’s dominant sense. And superficial markers for superficial relationships seems logical. Sure you don’t want it to stay there but its a good place to start.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Based on your username, I suspect you of being approximately 10 years younger than me. I was always the only Jenn(anything) in my classes. Then when I was 28 years old and wearing braces and working a counter job with a name-tag, guess how old I suddenly was!

      When I meet women named Stephanie, I ask them if they get called Jennifer by accident. And They Are Amazed. Yes, how did I know? Well, because I get Stephanie a lot. And then we bond over it.

  22. CupcakeCounter*

    Probably not ideal but…
    My work email program allows you to put a photo as part of your profile. In Outlook it shows up in the header bar as a small, round photo (similar to how it looks on LinkedIn). Since my work has several offices and parent/sister companies all over the country it is kind of nice so “see” people you communicate with often but have never met. Since you are communicating often with only short meetings maybe this will keep you fresh in their minds.
    Obviously keep the photo tasteful but very few people here have (or use) those professional photos with the blue/gray background so no need to have a photo shoot done. Just find a nice one where you look like you and crop as needed (the one I am looking at now looks like it was taken at our local spring festival then cropped).
    I can see how this would be frustrating but also understand that one meeting in 6 months where the other attendee is somewhat well known and/or a more dominant personality can result in being overshadowed no matter who you are. That it is happening over and over points to something though…

    1. Anna Canuck*

      My work uses our ID photo on our Outlook and Skype, and it helps me remember people for sure.

  23. Laura H.*

    Are business cards still a thing?

    Also maybe consider how you remember people who you interact with? I usually remember people because I’ve helped them before or they have a memorable item my workplace takes in for cleaning or repair.

  24. Lisa*

    Small suggestion that may not solve the problem but may help: I’m always surprised that so many people in work environments don’t include a signature on their emails that includes their name, title, organization and contact information. If you don’t, start doing that. If you already do, check to see if you’ve selected the option for it to show up on replies to email threads; the default is for signatures to only show up if you initiate an email, but you can change it so it shows up on replies as well. This doesn’t help with the in person stuff (people have great suggestions above!), but may help with making your name familiar.

    1. Anon Amiss*

      I definitely agree with this. Sign off on your emails with your full signature. Full name, title, company, and contact info (including your own email address, in case an email you sent is later forwarded without you being cc’d).

      1. asleep or maybe dead*

        Yes, definetely.
        This is a pet peeve of mine. Whenever I get an e-mail signed with only the first name I go bonkers. Unless we are from the same organization and I can find you easily through the contacts list, I will be so mad.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I’m glad I’m not the only one that gets miffed when people don’t include their signatures in their emails, especially to outside contacts. I’ve lost count of the emails I’ve gotten that say “oh give me a call to discuss this random topic” but don’t include a phone number.

        2. Nessun*

          Good grief, that drives me bugnuts! Especially because I receive so many forwarded emails from my boss asking me to do things for/send stuff to these contacts – and there’s nothing there to work with! It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s a signature line, it’s not even something you have to think about; the system will put it in there for you!

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            I’ve worked for lots of larger companies that not only require this, they also have a mandated signature style. It’s amazing to me that people *wouldn’t* have this in their professional email account. And it definitely cuts down on the cutsie sigs with pink font handwriting-style names, or animated graphics, or inspirational quotes.

    2. Emily S.*

      Good point. Some people have replies set up not to include a full signature, and this can be un-helpful, even if it’s an internal coworker.

      1. Dorothy Zbornak*

        Yes, I hate that. “Oh, I know Sally has an email signature with her phone number in this thread somewhere…” and then you’re scrolling back in the thread for 85 years until you find her original email with the full signature.

    3. Persimmons*

      I’m soooo guilty of this. Yesterday was the first time I e-mailed someone outside my org in almost six months. I never remember, because we aren’t supposed to clog up internal e-mail chains with the memory-sucking official signature that includes our logo and 5-6 links.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        There might be settings to treat internal/external emails differently — poke around in options maybe?

  25. Hey-eh*

    Oooo this is so annoying. The head of sales at my company has met me at least half a dozen times over the last 2 years I’ve been here and she never remembers who I am when she’s at our branch. Never. As in, introduces herself to me over and over. I’ve taken to saying, “yes we have met before at XYZ event” to jog her memory, but it’s really insulting especially when I seem to be the only one she doesn’t remember? What’s also strange is that I have a distinctive haircut (straight across blunt bangs) and people have commented that they can always pick me out of a crowd because of them. On the flip side of this, I am face blind (look it up, I swear it’s a real thing, and it affects multiple members of my family) which makes it really hard for ME to remember other people’s faces. I’ve even had trouble recognizing my own husband in a crowd of people. I love when people have SOMETHING distinctive about them – maybe a certain way they style their hair, or a jacket they always wear, or an interesting piece of jewellery, or even shoes. Something that jogs my memory of them without it having to be their face. For some people (actors are a good example of this) I will recognize their voice before I recognize their face.

    Is there anything you can do to have a THING that is instantly recognizable? Heck I’d even settle for a catch phrase that you can use in email and in person!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve taken to saying, “yes we have met before at XYZ event” to jog her memory, but it’s really insulting especially when I seem to be the only one she doesn’t remember?

      Mr. Shackelford once had a boss whose wife refused to imprint onto my memory. I don’t know why. Every time I encountered her, it was like a whole new day. I felt awful about it. I’m usually pretty good at recognizing people, even if it’s “I know you from somewhere but I can’t figure out where,” but she just never got flagged in my brain for some reason.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        omg. I have two people on the perimeter of my life that I just cannot remember their faces. And it usually works into a humbling thing each time I meet them, again, for the *first* time. ugh. It’s like there is a brick wall in my brain that I cannot break through.

        But this can be useful to the OP. Try to remind yourself, OP, of times you forgot people’s names. You know that there was no evil intention on your part happening. You know you just drew a blank. If you can write off some of these instances as just being human and not retaining everything, you might find it to be a helpful exercise.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been on both sides too. There’s a very well known person in my field that I used to see at conferences every year. She would remember lots of people that she likely saw as infrequently as me, but in ten years she never recognized me. Other people that I only saw once a year would recognize me immediately so I wouldn’t say I was forgettable, exactly, just that whatever feature/thing made me memorable to some didn’t work for others.

      And then there were a few people at work who never imprinted on my memory, even after long face to face meetings. Sometimes it’s just a thing that happens – it’s frustrating either way though.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This often happens to me, especially when I attend meetings but don’t present or my meetings are on the phone. I have a different wrinkle that I use to my advantage– I have a stellar memory. It’s almost creepy. (It’s also a bit of a curse as well as a blessing, because I have relied on it way too much and as I get older, it’s not quite as stellar.) So what I’ll do is go up to people, shake their hands, and say something like, “Hi John, we spoke on the phone last year. You asked me what it was like to work with Giant Entertainment Company!” Said with a smile and eye contact that’s as good as I can manage. Or even, “Oh hi, Laura, we met briefly at the presentation last year.” Basically, I kind of expect that no one will remember me, so I’ll do the remembering.

    A friend of my mother’s almost always greets me (and, I imagine, other people she doesn’t see very often) with, “Hi AvonLady! Jane Smith. How are you?” and a big smile. I always remember her, but it strikes me as a gracious way of getting around the memory problem.

    I’ve only been irritated or bothered by the lack of remembering a few times, usually because it’s from people to whom I’ve been introduced socially about five times. And they’re never the ones who preface it by saying, “I’m so sorry, I’m terrible with names– remind me of yours again?” I think a lot of people are just not good at remembering names or faces, so to me, it’s more about their reaction when you remind them than about the lack of memory, if that makes sense.

    1. Dragoning*

      The one person I got mad didn’t remember my name was in a notoriously sexist community in which I was the only person who read a female and there were about 6 or seven of us.

      He remembered everyone’s else name.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The most helpful thing I have found is to just assume they don’t remember me. It’s like a courtesy to remind people how they know us. Some people stop me mid-sentence. And I let them stop me, of course. At that point you can switch, OP, “Oh, how nice of you to remember me/us meeting/our short project/whatever!”

  27. Secretary*

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    ― Maya Angelou

    I think this is really true. When you say that you’re soft spoken or quiet, does that mean you’re volume is low? Or is it possible that you’re having trouble connecting with people?

    Try this: When you meet someone new be as warm and engaging as possible. You can do this at a low volume, but maybe complement them (appropriately!) on something. Smile, laugh at their joke. If you’ve heard great things about them, tell them! Remember THEIR name, and use it to show that you remember them. If they give you a detail about themselves like they’re going to their daughter’s croquet game, ask how it went! Or ask questions about them and get them talking about themselves.

    If you do the above, I’m willing to bet money they will remember you. Also, I would give the same advice exactly as typed above if you were a man.

    1. mf*

      OP, you describe yourself as if you are just like everyone else in your industry. You are not–you are unique.

      So, what about you is different or special? Embrace those qualities (whether physical or personality-wise) and play them up, because that’s what makes you memorable.

      Do you love bright lipstick? Wear it every day! Do you have an unusual hobby? Bring it up in conversation! Do you have a quirky sense of humor? Prepare some “dad jokes” that are appropriate for professional conservation.

      1. mf*

        Sorry! this was meant to be a comment, not a reply to @Secretary’s very excellent comment above.

  28. The Pink Lady*

    I can imagine how horrible this must feel, OP. It’s so hurtful to think that one hasn’t made an impression at all on people we’ve met. If I see someone with that slightly panicky baffled look when we meet for the second time, I’ll take the initiative and say something like “How lovely to see you again! It’s PinkLady, I really enjoyed working with you on X”, or “Hi, it’s me, PinkLady. It’s Cersei, isn’t it? Did you ever follow up on X after the conference in Birmingham?” – just to offer some context for my face. That might head off awkwardness for you – people who *do* remember you won’t think it’s odd you should offer this kind reminder, and those who need it will be grateful to you.

    I am lucky in that I have something which is memorable about my appearance – a lot of blonde curly hair which I wear down, but tidily and professionally. Is there something eye-grabbing which you’d feel comfortable cultivating? One friend wears a pretty scarf every day, and another has a series of chunky brooches she wears on her lapel. How about making a change so that you have something which becomes your thing?

  29. MaryB*

    This happened to me recently in a situation where it really aggravated me (I was the senior person and client and just spent two hours one on one in person with the person a few weeks prior) and I just looked shocked, was silent for a beat, and said, we’ve met, I’m Mary. The other person realized their error quickly, in front of our board of directors. Obviously this was a unique situation but I think it’s ok to sometimes just say, we’ve met!

    I hate this because I try to remember everyone and I think it’s kind of rude not to make the effort. I think it comes from people rushing and being too busy to stop and focus for a minute.

    1. Alice*

      Of course it’s ok to say “we’ve met.” But if you’re using a tone of voice that says “and I hope everyone realizes that I’m not happy that you’ve obviously forgotten me” — it’s understandable, but it will probably lead to the person remembering you from now on as the person who embarrassed them.
      May I suggest things like “actually, we’ve met — we were working on project X last week” or “actually, we’ve met — I’m MaryB, and I handle llama-grooming safety.” Adding some context will help the other person remember you, in the moment and maybe even long term, which is the goal, right?

      1. AMPG*

        Well, it does depend. It sounds like this is a case where the other person SHOULD be embarrassed not to remember MaryB, and I think it’s understandable to want the other person to know they’ve messed up in a situation like that. But it’s true that it’s always more gracious to let the moment pass.

        1. MaryB*

          Yeah, I am not usually a jerk but in this case I felt a little chill was appropriate, given the amount of time I had spent with the person, and the amount of money we’re paying them.

          From the client side it definitely makes you question what else they’ve forgotten that you have told them. The work has been just ok so far, so we probably won’t hire them again.

  30. Good luck*

    Hi OP! Sorry to hear you are dealing with this. I’ve found it helpful to start off with a large, brilliant smile each time I meet someone new, or am seeing someone who I rarely encounter in person. As genuine and bright of a smile as you can muster. I (as a young woman) feel like this is probably something crappy and gender-related, but it really has helped in the memorability zone – people have specifically said that they remember my smile, and start off meetings at ease with me.

    Also, as a few commenters above have said, don’t be afraid to re-introduce yourself and name one of your key contributions on those rare occasions that you see someone in person. It’s kind, and it helps everyone get off on the right foot, so they understand up-front which project questions should likely be directed to you, or how you’ve contributed to the project.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      While I certainly don’t argue that there are gender-related issues here, I think the same advice (say hi with eye contact and a smile) applies to men– and too many men don’t do it. I used to work in a sales adjacent role, and the best guys in sales were the ones who knew how to greet people in a way that made them feel good. The head of sales at my old company has an absolute million-dollar smile and could probably lead a mile-long line of loyal disciples through the streets of Manhattan.

      I know some men who are absolutely terrible at networking because they don’t know how to connect with anyone unlike them. One of them even told me he was impressed by how outgoing I am at professional events. I was like, “It’s work. I’ve worked hard at this. It exhausts me. But it’s important.” It struck me as so strange that he didn’t even put in an effort.

  31. pleaset*

    Worth mentioning that even if women do this to the OP as well as men, gender might still be an issue insofar as it relates to the OP’s gender.

  32. I'll say it*

    You might want to ask your colleague, who is more well known as you say, to use your name more often in the presence of these people. Sometimes that can help. Not to a point where it’s weird, but work it in more. I’m sure that person would understand if you tell her!

    Also, I’m a huge believer in branding. A weird little thing I do, and I’m one of those people who jokes a lot, is say things about future me and past me. Hear me out! So if something is not able to be defined now, I’ll jokingly say “oh that’s a problem for Future Selma” or if I’ve remembered to do something that we said needed to be done, I’ll say “oh thank god Past Selma remembered that!” That, and I try to wear some piece of memorable jewelry. I have this fun dinosaur bone necklace – it always gets comments. (It’s silver and looks like an abstract necklace til you look at it more.)

  33. Cait*

    Do you use LinkedIn? I find connecting with people after I’ve met them helps both of us remember each other…be a frequent (doesn’t have to be a lot, but stay active) on the platform so that your name keeps popping up from time to time.

  34. Amber T*

    I am awful at remembering names. Two seconds after shaking someone’s hand, their name will slip from my mind. I’m decent enough at remembering faces, and I’ll know names of people that I’ve exchanged emails with over a period of time, but I even have trouble putting them together once I meet them in person.

    Repeat your name as often as it can naturally come up. When you introduce yourself to someone, every time you get up to present something (“Again, my name is Jane Warblesmooth from Teapots Inc., and I’ll be discussing X,”), if you’re on a conference call and you chime in, repeat your name, (“this is Jane from Teapots, I’d like to raise a point on X”).

    I’ve also noticed when people address me with my name, and I try to make the same effort back to them, which means I try to make more of an effort to learn/remember their name. People like hearing their own names, and I think they’ll try to replicate that, so 1) you’ll be remembered as the person who says their name, and 2) they’ll remember your name.

    1. DivineMissL*

      I came here to say the same thing. I have a swiss-cheese memory, and I forget someone’s name as soon as they say it. I run into the same person months or weeks or days or hours later and I can tell they look vaguely familiar, and they obviously know who I am, but I’m stumped and just have to hope they say something that will clue me in. It has nothing to do with whether they are important or memorable; these people are everyone from random vendors to co-workers I don’t see often to CEOs to elected officials. If they don’t give me any clues about who they are, I’ve been known to say, “I’m sorry, I’m having a brain cramp and I’m blanking out on your name”, at which point they’ll laugh and tell me. Unfortunately, I can only do this once per person!

      It’s only after I’ve interacted with them multiple times that the face and name start to become imprinted on my brain. So OP, I agree with Amber T, repeat your name organically if you can, so people like me can absorb it!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I do this a lot on the phone. I find that when I repeat my name at the end of the conversation often times I get asked for spelling or hours of availability or similar that leads me to believe they are writing it all down. And I know I said my name when I answered the phone.
      OP, you’ll find it helpful to get used to repeating your name. I find comfort in seeing or sensing that the person is probably writing it down on the second time around.

    3. Imaginary Butterfly*

      I’m not great at remembering names verbally, but for whatever reason, I’m good at remembering them when I read them. So, if four people introduce themselves and they are Jack, Jane, Mark, and Mary, I’ll probably forget that.

      However, if I have a list of people I’ll be meeting and can review it in advance – Okay, I’ll be meeting Jack, Joe, Jean, Jane, Mark, Matt, Mary, and Marie – then I feel like I’m just figuring out who is who. It also helps if I have a list of the people I just met.

      It also helps me tremendously with remembering if someone introduced herself to me as Kristin, or Crystal, or Christine, etc… oh, it’s the name that was on the list.

      And the people I forgot, I piece together via the process of elimination.

  35. Just Me*

    This sounds so frustrating to deal with. The root socialization needs to be fixed by society in general, but until then I agree with the other commentators that something visual might help. A bright scarf, a statement piece of jewelry, a great handbag or, if you take notes in meetings, a unique notepad, fountain pen and ink colour might help you stand out. Or you could pick up a cane and simply poke people to help them remember you :-)

  36. Liz*

    I am a memorable-looking person who is moderately face-blind, particularly with categories of people who I see a lot of (such as professionally dressed white people in their thirties and forties). If I met someone at a meeting a year ago — or a week ago — there is no dang way I would recognize them on sight unless they had like a neck tattoo or something. I am so, so grateful when people default to saying “hi, Liz! It’s Rob, from Vanessa’s team.” Usually I only get that kind of accommodation from people who I’ve told about my face-blindness. BUT, as an unfortunately unmemorable-looking person, you could try defaulting to acting like most people you interact with infrequently are kinda face-blind. I don’t think anyone would be offended or offput by the “hi it’s me, who you know from the thing!” greeting, so if you over-introduce yourself to someone who does in fact remember you, no harm done!

    In summary, be Harriet Jones from Doctor Who:

      1. Liz*

        Yes but you are thinking of Sacks himself, who has prosopagnosia like me and has written about it. The man who did the mistaking of his wife had visual agnosia, which I and Sacks do not.

        1. Emily S.*

          Ah, I see, thank you for explaining that.

          Sacks did some remarkable writing in his career. He wrote an article for the New York Times in Feb. 2015 announcing that he had terminal cancer (a piece titled ‘My Own Life’). His final book, a memoir titled ‘On The Move,’ came out in the spring of that year. He passed away the following August, and had an obituary in the Times. He was 82.

    1. asleep or maybe dead*

      Oh, I re-introduce myself all the time, usually subtly but sometimes pretty explicitly. It did not occur to me that people might be upset by me doing that.

      In my experience though, I always greet them cheerfully and they will always respond positively, sometimes visibly reliefed.

      1. fposte*

        Also at situations like conferences, I think people’s mental files just get overwhelmed, so there’s a lot of “I think I know her or do I just know her name or did we room together once?” Fortunately it’s widespread enough that it’s generally understood and forgiven.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think the longer people have been in the work world the more apt they are to forgive and the more apt they are to just admit they don’t remember. It seems like at some point it got tiring to pretend I remembered everyone, when once in a while I did not. I am not sure when that fatigue set in, though. Once the fatigue came, my guard went down.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Me too–memorable looks, on the face blind spectrum, and in social* contexts people always seem to be approaching me with “Oh hey I remember you from X preschool.” (My youngest is in high school.) Or occasionally they have me mixed up with some other very blond person, who I really truly am not but I receive varying levels of doubt in the face of this assertion.

      *I freelance, so I don’t run into OP’s problem with people not recognizing me in a meat-space work context.

      1. Liz*

        We should hang out! and then never run into each other again. :)

        it is VERY useful that I seem to never run into exes…

  37. RightsaidFed*

    I am a forgetter. Right now I am sitting in an open floor plan office with about 35 other people,and there are at least 8 people whose names I am unsure of/do not know, despite us all being in this office for the past 18 months.

    The people whose names I do remember: (1) people who email me with questions that require back and forth. (2) people who have very distinguishing characteristics (blue hair; 6ft5; smokey voice of a crooner). (3) people who make friendly small talk with me at our floorwide meetings or during fire drills (ie even though we have no work related interaction, we interact).

    TL:DR – repeated interaction, visual/aural uniqueness, friendliness/interest.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      *sigh* My best work experience on this front was a Montessori toddler classroom where I was subbing, and the regular teacher stuck a nametag on the back of each child. If only real life afforded these sort of hints to who the heck this person is…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Excellent point about people who make friendly small talk. When I am new at a job that is one thing I pick up on quickly, who seems welcoming or friendly. Those folks can be helpful with the settling in process. So many of them I end up not working with directly but I will have random contact through out the week. I always learn the names of those people because they seem to know mine right away.

  38. Ellybabes*

    Dye your hair a bright colour, or even just put a steak of colour in it. I dyed my hair bright pink 3 years ago. I’ve been working at the same company for nearly 16 years, with over 5000 people on site, and in the last 3 years everyone seems to know who I am. It really makes a massive difference!

    1. Ellybabes*

      I should also say, I’m a manager on site. We’re lucky that we have no dress code or anything, people don’t mind what you look like as long as you are good at your job.

    2. Starbuck*

      Yep, I’ve found that having very long, very blue hair makes me pretty memorable. I’m so happy that I can get away with it!

  39. Emily S.*

    LW, you say that you physically look and dress like many other women in your field.

    I wonder if you might try making subtle but noticeable changes to your style/wardrobe. This could be done a number of ways, but perhaps:
    – You start wearing brightly colored/patterned scarves under your suit jackets (or cardigans/etc.).
    (These can be purchased for fairly little from fast fashion-type stores. Nothing wrong with synthetics that only look like silk/wool/etc.)
    – Or, perhaps you could try some jewelry: statement necklaces (watch out for heavy ones though! they must be light enough to be comfy), brooches, or statement earrings. Mind, obviously, keep it all professional (nothing that would be considered “gaudy,” for example, but that does not rule out costume jewelry — costume jewelry has a place in professional wardrobes).

    Perhaps if you were to make just one or more subtle changes to your style/wardrobe, you might be more memorable, at least physically. I know a couple others have already mentioned this, but I wanted to throw out a few ideas.

    Personally, there are quite a few women I’ve worked with over the years professionally, and I do particularly remember women I respected and admired, and who had excellent wardrobes. Many of them had a signature style that really worked for them. Often they did include bright/colorful clothing and patters, but not always. (So of course, this would take a fair amount of experimenting to see what kinds of things would work for you.)

    All that being said, your wardrobe should make you feel confident in yourself, and even powerful. (Have you heard of Amy Cuddy’s “Power Poses”? She gave a TED talk that was very illuminating — that’s something else to check out, your body language / non-verbal communication.)

    So find what works for you, and then take time to hone that. Best of luck to you.

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, Amy Cuddy’s power pose research ended up being debunked after, as with a fair bit of social science research, it didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      1. Emily S.*

        Oh, okay, I didn’t hear about that. Thanks for letting me know.

        I do still think that non-verbal communication matters, though, in general. For example, standing/sitting up straight and not slouching, making eye contact, etc. (Obviously, that’s a much broader topic that we don’t need to get into here.)

        1. fposte*

          I definitely agree! It’s just one of those social science things that got a lot of PR initially and the word hasn’t gotten around.

          1. Emily S.*

            Yes, sure.

            Going off on a tangent here, but this thread also made me think of ‘power colors,’ which I think can have some real effect. I know they’re used by costume designers (in tv/film/theatre etc.) regularly. Personally, I know there are certain colors, which if I know they look good on me, and I wear them, make me feel more confident (perhaps even powerful). I realize it’s quite subjective though, and there may be no science to back that theory up. Though with that being said, I imagine plenty of social science research has been done regarding colors in general, and how they make people feel (‘warm’ and ‘cool’ colors, etc.).

            /End rambling tangential digression

    2. Brownie*

      Statement jewelry is something I’ve seen folks do in STEM a lot. No one will remember the average height brown-haired man, but everyone remembers the guy who had the caffeine molecule earrings. Find jewelry that’s in a theme and that could be the statement. Anything from every day it’s a different opal piece to star shapes to molecules, cats, birds, insects, always made from copper… there’s all kinds of options for statement jewelry.

      1. Emily S.*

        Those are great ideas. Agreed, I love that statement jewelry can be so inexpensive, but available in so many forms / colors / materials / themes, that it’s possible to find a lot of good options.

        That said, personally, I find that jewelry HAS to be comfortable, not too heavy (some necklaces/earrings etc. are just so heavy as to be very uncomfortable, thus they never get worn, or they might have hard-to-use clasps, etc.). On the flip side, depending on the material(s), one can find plenty of big/bold pieces that aren’t heavy or uncomfortable at all. So yeah, jewelry can be super fun, and help your personality shine.

  40. Thosetaxreturnswontfilethemselves*

    my suggestions:
    1) I think this is one of few times where linkedin may be useful. If it’s appropriate in your industry – could you send a linkedin “freind request”? Make sure your picture is up-to-date.

    2) Also, if you’re having a follow up meeting several months after an initial meeting, would it be appropriate to email the people you’ll be meeting with as a “I exist reminder”. Or initial after the meeting to say you’re enthusiastic about XYZ.

    3) Would it be appropriate to have agendas w/ photos on them? Or at least everyone participating with their contact information/title/company ect.

    For what it’s worth, I am horrible at remembering names, I’m working on it.

  41. Jill*

    Before going into meetings, social media stalk the people that you are meeting with and find out a few things about them that you can make a personal connection to. Now don’t go to the meeting saying, I saw on Facebook you were watching this movie, what did you think? Instead, try to fit it into the conversation – maybe you run 5ks and notice so does this other person, can you fit that into a conversation? Big into sports and notice someone else is? “Did you watch the (insert team name here) this weekend?”

    Share something memorable about yourself, if the conversation lends to it. There was this one time that I did this… (obviously keep it appropriate to work).

    Compliment them or make notice of something – woman walks in with a killer pair of shoes, tell her you like her shoes. Man is wearing a unique printed tie, be sure to point it out.

    Remember things about them from the meeting – “Hi Sharon, last time we met you said your son was competing in a little league tournament, how’d he do?” That shows that you were paying attention and may help them connect the dots. (People in sales will often keep a word doc or in their phone a file on people they meet. They probably don’t really remember about their kids sport activity but they write down a note and read their notes before the meeting)

    You say you have a run of the mill name? Can you be funny with it when you introduce yourself? I recall in a tv show, someone introduced themselves as Gary with a Y.

    Most importantly remember that some people are just bad with names/faces, remembering details. I am, I’ve talked to people that I don’t remember meeting before. Don’t look at it as a sign of disrespect or that they don’t value your work. Some people meet and talk with countless people over the course of the work week, sometimes it’s hard to keep things straight

  42. Suzwhat*

    I’ve worked with one particular man for about 20 years, off and on. Every time I see him he says “glad to meet you”.

  43. LQ*

    In addition to all of the physical visual queues people have mentioned, if you are good at faces/names enough, initiate second contact. Frequently. Walking up to someone at a conference and “Hi Joan, I’m Sally, it’s very nice to see you here after our last meeting at Wally’s Bait and Tackle where you talked about the water table being low.” Leveraging the second meeting to be the initiative taker can be a huge memory marker. (It can be in the first too, but in the second you’ll be able to demonstrate a lot of things really fast and that can stick well.)

  44. Todd Wilson*

    I don’t know if this will help but can you make up a little ‘catchphrase’ for yourself? Years ago we had a sales rep at our company whose last name rhymed with Presley. (Started with a K and spelled differently). He would introduce himself this way: “Hi, I’m ___ K___, Elvis with a K!”. Like other commenters have said, have a memorable tag line about yourself and that might help.

    1. The Big Stinko*

      Seconded. At networking mixers it’s the people who used tricks who get remembered e.g. “my name is Jinette, rhymes with barrette”. Someone with the last name Rose always wears a rose! Whatever it takes in business.

  45. BPW*

    I did speech and debate in college and for the first two years not a single person ever remembered me. I was a young woman, also followed the activity’s dress code to a T and wasn’t anything super noticeable. What made people start remembering me was two things, which I’ve taken with me into my career and several years later it’s still helpful –

    1) If you are a woman, even if you think you’re speaking loud, you can speak louder. Just like Amber Rose said – you don’t have to yell or shout. But if you project your voice, you will be more noticeable. I found that when I spoke slightly louder, my voice became about a half-octave lower and people started remembering me as the “girl with the deep voice.” Speaking louder may not necessarily give you a trait that you’re remembered for, but so many women don’t realize how quiet they are and don’t realize that what they think is “shouting” is really “speaking strongly and confidently.”

    2) Initiating the conversation even if I didn’t know the person. Introducing myself, even if they’d “met” me before and forgotten. Telling them about how my weekend was going, asking how the past few tournaments they’d been to had went. Cracking jokes about speeches and judges and running on a few hours of sleep. Build the connection so that next time they see you, they may not remember your name, but they’ll know that they’ve talked to you before and they know you’re a nice person.

    Finally, if people don’t remember meeting you, don’t call them out or withdraw into yourself. It’s hard to not take it personally, but if someone doesn’t remember you then give them something to remember you by! “Oh, I thought we’d debated at the last tournament – my mistake. Well, my name is BPW and I’m from X University and it’s great to meet you. How has your weekend been? I heard such an interesting speech about Y this morning – have you seen that yet?”

    1. Evergreen*

      I’d add to that to introduce yourself to the person each time and add where you saw them last ‘Hi, i’m evergreen, we met at the horticultural convention last November’ – the other great thing is that they will generally then say ‘oh of course’ (whether or not they actually remember) thus avoiding embarrassment on both sides.

  46. Another Lawyer*

    I love saying “nice to see you” instead of hi/hello/good morning, etc. because it reminds the person that you have met before VERY gently and then they can rack their brain for where, and usually spending that mental time on you cements you into their brain.

  47. Always Thinking*

    Do you have a notable professional accomplishment you could “anchor” off of to connect you as a person with in their brains?

  48. Not Maeby But Surely*

    As a fellow forgettable* person, I feel you. Several years ago when my company merged its two offices in one town, I interacted with one woman from the other office, who knew we’d be seeing each other frequently upon the move (so I’d think would have an interest in paying attention to the colleagues she’d be working closer with) who told me “it’s so nice to meet you” FIVE (5!) different times. The 2nd and 3rd times were irritating but easy to brush off; people forget, whatever. The 4th and 5th time I found really insulting, and it honestly took my opinion of that person down a bit because to me it was a matter of her not remembering the employees she considered less-than.

    More relevant to your situation though, I’ve also had this happen with customers too, and I’m also a quiet-at-first type (I suspect that plays a role in this happening). Sometimes it helps to get ahead of the problem, by saying when you’re meeting up with them at an event, “Hi Charles Wallace, not sure if you remember me, I’m Meg from Teapots Unlimited. We worked together on the Teapots Galore Gala. It’s so nice to see you again!” A variation on that, when being “introduced” to someone you’ve already met, “Oh, actually, I think we met at the Tesseract Convention in February. I remember talking to you about wormholes after your presentation on them.” Finding something to talk about that you both remember may help them make a more solid connection to you.

    And then there are people whose memories are just bad, who forget half the people they meet and there’s not much to be done about those folks.

    *I don’t actually think I’m forgettable by my own standards, but apparently by some peoples’ standards I am. C’est la vie. :)

  49. Just Tired*

    I have tattoos running up both arms and a large birthmark on my face, but despite working in nonprofits in a small town since 1996 and being introduced to the same people dozens of times, some of the “big shots” still never remember me because it’s not a me problem, it’s a them problem. I am not a CEO or a representative of local government, so I am just one of the faceless, nameless crowd to them, regardless of how many times someone has introduced me and I have actually had discussions with them. I am able to joke about it now with other people who experience the same thing with the same people. Trying to make yourself stand out in some way other than through your professional work might backfire and make you memorable for the wrong reasons, which could also hurt your career trajectory. So what do you do if the networking is vital?

    Perhaps asking to have some informal/coffee meetings with some of these folks? Make sure to ask lots of questions that demonstrate how interested you are in them as people as well as colleagues (try not to be creeper and stalkerish – what’s popular in your area for activities? Here it’s stuff like fishing and skiing). Most people, even when they deny it, looooooooooove talking about themselves, and if you can get to that place, those folks will often remember you because they had a good time sharing things with you that are important to them. I still can’t get to that point with the muckety-mucks here in my industry because of logistics, but there are some other “important” people I’ve been able to do this with at gatherings or conferences, and it worked like a dream. And in the meantime: (1) remember it’s not really a ‘you’ problem if people are horrible at remembering people they meet; (2) please try not to let other people’s selective memory invalidate you.

    1. Liz*

      Remember that the “them problem” might very well be face-blindness rather than snobbishness!

      Signed, a face-blind person who is constantly worried that people think she’s just a bitch

      1. Just Tired*

        I get the face-blindness because I suffer from it to a certain degree as well (much better with a person’s name than face, although in my case I think it’s because I have hang-ups about my appearance, so I tend to be oblivious about other people’s physical attributes). And I hear you about the concern because the other day I picked up a large order of food for a party and some guy at a nearby table said, “Hey, Just Tired, how come I’m not invited?” and I panicked trying to remember where I knew the guy from when I realized he was an employee who knew my name because of the order. I invited him to the party.

        Using the word “horrible” at remembering something doesn’t necessarily mean the person is a horrible person. I am horrible at keeping my desk organized. I am horrible at remembering to put things on my calendar. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I am an actual horrible person.

        It sounded to me like OP was judging herself very harshly for something that may have nothing to do with what her actions (or inaction). My hope was that my post would provide her with alternative reasons why someone might not be remembering her that better balances the scales. And unfortunately, in the examples I gave of my own experiences, I am 100% absolutely sure the “inability” to remember certain people is based on assumed importance and not anything else. I’m guessing OP has and will continue to meet a combination of people, some who have difficulty remembering faces, some who don’t care, etc. Reading these comments will give her a wider picture of what might be going on and if nothing else, will help her feel less invisible.

  50. Eulerian*

    Check out YouTube channel charisma on command – I’ve found them to be really insightful. Another resource you might like is Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.

  51. Hazelnut*

    I agree with all of the comments suggesting incorporating brighter or bolder colours into your look; I’d also suggest looking at your working wardrobe. Is it a capsule wardrobe comprised of a few classic pieces which all work together, or do you have lots of options that might be more distinctive? You could consider your hairstyle as well. Does it obscure any part of your face? Heavy bangs, or curtains of hair falling forwards, can make it harder for people to get a good look at your face and remember your features. Could you wear it swept back, or have it cut differently? If you wear glasses, could you get frames in a brighter colour, or a different shape?

    I might also try making a point of either introducing yourself by name when you meet people, or handing them your business card, or both (to the extent that these things are normal in your working environment).

  52. Starbuck*

    This certainly won’t work for everyone, but my solution to this is having waist-length blue hair. Actually, I’ve had it for so long now that I don’t know if I’d be un-memorable without it, but as it is now I often run into people professionally and socially who say they remember meeting me somewhere- although sometimes I have no idea who they are! I’m so bad with faces and names. But I think it does help me to stand out in this way since I’m also pretty short and easy to miss in a crowd otherwise. For now I’m happy that the casual nature of my field (and my youth, I suppose?) is very accepting of my unusual style choices.

  53. Nicole*

    I have a colleague with a similar build to me but she has shoulder length brown hair and I have extremely short blonde hair but we are constantly confused with each other to the point that a patient once tried to argue with me that I had waited on him until he looked at the employee name written on his receipt. We used to have a third with longer dirty blonde hair that would also get confused with the both of us. Eventually I stopped wearing my name tag because nobody bothers to read it anyway, and I’m fairly certain it’s due to the fact that we’re women and/or fat, as if the office is staffed but nothing but a single generic fat white lady in glasses. It’s incredibly annoying and disheartening.

    Short of completely reinventing your appearance, personality, or both, I don’t think there’s much you can do to change this. Crazy hair colors, giant earrings, always telling awful puns—but do you want to have to resort to gimmicks to stand out? I don’t think it’s on you to change yourself, OP. It’s on others to get their heads out of their rears and actually take the time to pay attention to they are working with/speaking to/meeting. As disappointed as you feel, I’m hoping their feel twice that in embarrassment at forgetting you.

    Perhaps you can try something like, “You don’t remember meeting me at [event] where we discussed [topic]? Wow, you must be overworked/busy/up to your ears in meetings/etc!” or something to that effect that, instead of being upset you were forgotten, puts it on them for being a jackass that forgot you. Feign surprise and even a little shock, and hopefully that will be enough for them to realize they need to pay better attention.

    Good luck.

    1. Alice*

      Do you want the person to learn who you are and what you contribute to your org? Or do you want the person to remember you as “that person who made me look like a jackass?”
      Sure, sometimes you don’t need an ongoing relationship with the person who forgot you. (Although in that case I don’t know why her forgetfulness is a problem.) But I would suggest to OP that she aim for the goal of getting people to remember her for her work.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Wow, you must be overworked/busy/up to your ears in meetings/etc!”

      Noooo, please do not do this! Language like that will immediately put someone on the defensive. And when you don’t recognize someone, it shouldn’t be mortifying, it should be maaaaaybe slightly embarrassing and then everyone should move on. Because people forget other people all the time. I don’t like to play the “What If” game most of the time, but what if you walked up to someone, he forgot your name, you chastised him… and then you found out he’d had a stroke the month before? You’d feel pretty crappy. Or you said that to a woman who was newly pregnant and fighting off “pregnancy brain”? Or… all kinds of other scenarios that really aren’t that far-fetched.

      As I said above, I have a great memory and I can count the number of people I’ve forgotten on my hands. This is the one area of my life where I think I’m unusual. I expect people to forget me, and I think that actually makes me more memorable, because when they do forget me, I go out of my way NOT to make them feel bad about it. It’s not about “they need to pay better attention,” it’s that we should walk around with the expectation that sometimes people just won’t remember us and figure out a way to flip that script with courtesy and kindness.

    3. This Daydreamer*

      The advice about wearing statement jewelry or coloring your hair isn’t about gimmicks. Those of us who do these things are really standing out by allowing something about our style to reflect our personality. I wear handmade jewelry and distinctive glasses primarily because I want to. And the fact that it starts conversations not only makes me more memorable, it makes me more confident.

    4. EditorInChief*

      “You don’t remember meeting me at [event] where we discussed [topic]? Wow, you must be overworked/busy/up to your ears in meetings/etc!”

      Terrible advice. No one wants to be called out in a passive aggressive fashion like that. Incorporating your personality and style into your work life isn’t a gimmick, and it’s not changing who you are. If you aren’t a fun hair color person, then don’t do fun hair.

      But I think there’s still the mind set that when you’re at work you shouldn’t show your personality, that it’s not professional. So the crux of the advice is basically telling OP that it’s ok to incorporate her personal style into the workplace.

    5. Nicole*

      It is a gimmick if you’re ONLY doing it so others remember you.

      It is in my experience that someone who is going through something that would merit forgetfulness (like a stroke or pregnancy) typically tells you that something happened. Not everybody does, obviously, but I have dealt with far more over-sharers than under-sharers. If I met you previously and forgot you, please call me out! I deserve to feel like a little bit of a jackass.

  54. Meredith Brooks*

    Some of this may have to do with hierarchy and who people pay attention to. The issue with this project could be that folks are assuming your colleague is in charge, given her reputation and so while they may subconsciously be aware of your contributions, the limited information they’re capable of storing for this particular project means that they’ll focus on one person rather than two.

    I’m hesitant to say you should make yourself stand out physically. While it’s helpful to have a unique hairstyle or even a unique name, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll remember what you’ve done. Just what you look like. I think you need to be more proactive about sharing your insight and experience and demonstrate on a more aggressive scale what you’re capable of.

    As someone who is also a bit on the low-key side, I recognize that this is not an easy task. It will probably take some practice and it might not hurt to speak to your colleague (or someone who is good at making themselves memorable through their work) to get some tips about how to engage more deeply with others in your field.

  55. MegPR*

    My objective recommendation would be to study body language and presence. I know Google did a talk on body language that I really enjoyed, I can’t find it at the moment but I found an example on LinkedIn:

    I respectfully disagree with comments to change your hair color or appearance otherwise! You are who you are. You can command attention retaining your current physical identity. I am a redhead and will never change my hair color! :)

  56. OlympiasEpiriot*

    This is very frustrating to deal with. I am very sorry.

    Here’s some thoughts off the top of my head; be sure and take them with a huge grain of salt because white I am also a middle-aged white woman (except I’m older than you are), I am an extroverted, take-no-prisoners person, pushy when I need to be, a bull terrier on behalf of my clients, never let any sexist statement go unremarked (but usually done so with comedy — whether truly funny or with a whetted edge), and don’t entirely dress conventionally. So, as I’m someone who is always remembered (I have even had a guy or two say to my face that they don’t remember me and then I’ve overheard that same a$$ telling d-e-t-a-i-l-s to his buddy about how I pissed him off at some job … I guarantee you it was because he was pulling something shady) I might be giving you terrible advice for you. Please do what is best for you.

    1) Get their cards or vCards and send them an e-mail follow-up Right after the meeting.
    2) If you are working with others, don’t hag back w.r.t. the client/contractor correspondence. Jump in on things in your balliwick.
    3) Outlook Contact vCards…make sure you have some kind of an image in there. It doesn’t need to be your face (although I have the same pic that is my LinkedIn image, just for continuity). It could be some kind of other suitable image. Graphic designer…pic of an antique flatfile cabinet. Surveyor or cartographer…a compass rose. Environmental engineer…a marsh in bloom in front of a Montana skyline or other stunning backdrop. Traffic planner…etc…etc. You get the idea.
    4) Take up wearing some noticeable small thing that can be a conversation starter. People who have served in the Armed Forces often have a lapel pin related to their service. I’ve definitely noticed that being remarked upon. If there’s an association you belong to that has an unusual logo/whimsical shape for their lapel pin, go for that. [Eg: the Society of Explosives Engineers has a logo that includes the shape of an old-fashioned detonator…the box with the plunger like out of a Roadrunner cartoon.]
    5) Look at everyone else and notice if THEY have any potential conversation-starting item about themselves. Ask them about it. Make conversation about more than the job.
    6) Have a store of “dad” jokes. Make sure they are all clean. I’ve got a really silly one involving a librarian, a chicken and a frog for when people are standing around awkwardly holding drinks and not making small talk as it is a little long. I’ve got some dreadful puns that are really short. Using one per meeting MAXIMUM can be helpful.
    7) Everyone’s ideas about adding a trademark color to your work wardrobe can be helpful. Also, there is the option of taking your own basic style and exaggerating it a bit. Like, if you wear khakis and collared shirts, make sure they are perfectly tailored and add a 1930’s-ish vest and a brogue-type of shoe (there are women’s versions of this). That’s an example of a way I sometimes dressed in the office when I was spending a lot of time in the field…like a dressy vintage version of men’s work clothes. I also had french cuffs and cuff links that were miniature drafting tools or these silver things with florescent bubble levels in them. No, this was pre-hipster…
    8) Are there opportunities in your field to present at conferences? If so, TAKE THEM! Rack your brain for a good topic, make the slides, get in. Get in front of people as the only one on stage. A room full of people have to watch your for 20 minutes to an hour (depending), it will help cement you in their brain.

    There’s lots of good ideas on this thread already and I’m sure you’ll have more by the time I post this. Best of luck!

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      OH. MY. I read that THRICE! And I still have typos.
      while, not white
      hang, not hag
      people WHO have, not people have
      to watch you, not to watch your (unless I meant to write to watch your presentation…)

  57. hamstergirl*

    If your industry allows, a fun hair colour can do WONDERS for this.

    I work in the entertainment industry where I’ll periodically have to work on set, it’s important that the cast and crew all remember who I am even if I only show up 5 or 6 times over the course of a few months (or even just being able to recognize me quickly when I pop up to make requests over the course of a 14 hour day) and I found that having my hair in funky colours has been incredible for that. Even if they don’t know my name or have never directly interacted with me, they all know who I am and why I’m there which makes it very easy to get what I need.

    If you can’t do the hair then I echo some of the comments above that finding a visual signature of sorts is really good – red lipstick, a broach, statement necklace, etc.

  58. The Ginger Ginger*

    Is your coworker conducting herself in anyway that’s different than you in those initial meetings? Is SHE introducing you, for instance, instead of you introducing yourself? Is she the “spokesperson” for the meeting so more memorable? If/when you’re introducing yourself are you only giving your name, or do you say a bit about your role and what you do specifically for the team you’re meeting with? If there’s any chit-chat on topics other than the business of the meeting, do you participate to the same degree as coworker, or sort of just sit back and soak it in?

    It’s possible you’re blending into the meetings because you’re not really making an impression beyond being an employee of the company they’re working with. Can you push yourself a little out of your comfort zone (and practice some go-to small talk) so that you’re not just Employee B, but the employee who I chatted about the evils of Starbucks over-roasting their beans with, or the employee who knew a surprising amount about building a water feature in my garden. Or something like that. Engaging a little more socially so you’re not just a cog in the process might get you some traction in their memory.

  59. Ben There*

    A firm handshake, combined with eye contact and saying the other person’s name can go a long way toward making sure you ‘register’. “Hello, George. It’s so nice to meet you.” not “Hello, nice to meet you.”
    If you can show interest in them: ask a question, complement something they’ve done/written/been involved with that you’ve heard about, that also helps to be remembered.
    If you can help them make a connection to something or someone that would be helpful to them, that also might help. Create a reason to follow up: an interesting article or a colleague’s contact information could be reason to take their card or get their email. If you have their contact info, don’t be shy about touching base a few days after meeting: “really enjoyed meeting you and came across this article I thought you might find interesting. Enjoy!” Take thoughtful action (not creepy or overbearing) and people will begin to remember you. Good luck!

  60. OyVey*

    I have a somewhat unconventional haircut (asymetrical) with my natural hair color, and I wear a lot of vintage costume jewelry (I collect and am knowledgable about designers and studios). Big visual cues plus a collecting hobby I can make small talk about make me reasonably memorable despite a name people don’t usually hear correctly the first time. What sorts of visual cues are appropriate is highly dependent upon your industry’s conventions of course, OP.

    One organization I’m involved with has a habit of reminding everyone of names at the beginning of meetings. At general meetings, we all have placards. At committee meetings, we just go around the table and clarify names/roles. The “what each person’s role is” part of that 2 minute intro is especially helpful.

  61. Mrs. Landingham*

    I am so sorry you are going through the humiliation. That feels awful. I hope that by offering you what worked for me may be of help.

    For nearly five years, I worked with a boss who was male, older, extremely charismatic, and extremely memorable. So much so that when meeting people for the first time, they often only remembered him and not me (or anyone else). There are a few things I did to avoid situations (similar to yours) wherein I wasn’t remembered from kick-off to conclusion of a project. First, after those initial meetings, I always did two things: (1) volunteer to walk the people out. I am not the assistant or a junior person, but more for courtesy and I would get in a few words about me that directly connect to that person and build my own bond, and (2) always send a personal follow-up to the people, just from me saying how great it was to meet them and that I was so excited to get started that [even if I wasn’t the lead on the project] I would always be accessible and helpful (only if you can really offer that, of course!). That seemed to help a lot. I hope things get better!

  62. Ladylike*

    Work on developing your sense of humor if there’s a chance you’re coming across as too serious. Make an appropriate, well-timed joke from time to time. I always remember people who make me laugh. Introducing humor also makes people appear warmer, which makes me want to get to know them better.

    1. LQ*

      If you go for humor, it doesn’t actually have to be funny. This is why things that are really sort of …groan worthy jokes still work. So you can pull it off if you don’t think you have a sense of humor. I’m a huge fan of puns for this, they are nice and warm and groan but I always remember a punner.

  63. Anonymeece*

    Oof. I was the kid who was marked absent even though I was sitting right there, so I feel your pain.

    I’d echo the ideas people are throwing about the distinctive visual cue. That said, I always want to be the confident person who can wear red lipstick and magenta shirts, but then chicken out at the last second, so if that’s a problem, focus on a color that you can build a wardrobe around that you like, or always wear the same earrings or necklace.

    Weirdly, even scents work. I have a signature scent and I guess since scent is a powerful memory trigger, I get a lot of people who remember me from that, though with migraines/allergies, that may be a no-go.

    I would also suggest looking at how much small talk you do. You mention you’re contributing regularly to meetings and stuff, but informal talk lasts longer, in my experience. There’s one man at my work who makes a point of shaking everyone’s hands the first time he meets them, and not just in a “oh I’m doing this because that’s what you do”, but an intentional effort (it’s hard to explain). I always engage with people on the elevators or just in the halls, and I know most of the people on my campus this way, even though we were just talking about them renovating their house or that they moved here from North Carolina or how their grandkids are doing.

    Good luck!

  64. Curious Cat*

    I commiserate with you OP! I’m in a similar position, although I’m at the beginning of my career so I’m trying to establish myself while people often forget/misremember my name (“Hi Curious Car!”) or me, in general. I was hired at the same time as another young woman who’s similar in age, height, hair color, etc. and our VP constantly sees me in the hallway and will stop me for a conversation and say, “Hey Disinterested Dog, I heard this thing the other day you may find interesting…” and I’ll be so embarrassed to stop him and correct him that I’m not Disinterested Dog, I’m Curious Cat.

    But as many have said, I’ve started to follow up after networking with emails, reminding the person who I am, how we met, etc. That seems to help a bit, so they at least know me over email and then when we meet again in person they’re reminded that we do communicate a lot online. I also get social anxiety and can shut down when meeting new people, so it’s definitely been a learning curve to speak up more, but I find a good opportunity to assert myself is when we’re discussing a topic I’m very knowledgeable on. That way I’m showing my passion for the topic because it’s something I know I can speak confidently on and (hopefully) making an impression because of that.

  65. nnn*

    Another way to make yourself stand out that doesn’t involve the work of modifying your wardrobe: thank or compliment people in specific terms whenever the opportunity arises.

    An example I recently got from a client: “Thank you so much for catching that! You’ve saved us an enormous amount of trouble and embarrassment. You’re a superhero!”

    I remember that email, both because it made me feel valued and because I work for an organization where positive client feedback is gold at performance evaluation time, so I remember the person who sent it more than I do the multitude of other names I see on cc lists. (And, as an added bonus, I feel more incentivized to make her happy again, so I can get more positive emails I can forward to my manager.

    1. Ladylike*

      I love this and totally agree! Everyone will remember the person who gave him/her a sincere compliment.

  66. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    Oh my gosh, this is totally my area of expertise!

    I (apparently) have a forgettable or at least changing face, and must look very different depending on how I wear my hair or do my makeup.

    It used to be a common occurrence for people to meet me 4 or 5 times and and still think they’d never met me before.

    So I cut my hair short, pixie cut short.

    And since women with short dark hair are rather uncommon in my country (Scandinavia) it helps quite a lot.

    I also deliberately wear rather colorful clothing and lots of red lipstick.

    Basically, I try to give people something external to remember about me.

    1. Catalin*

      And if you don’t want to change your hair, (I hate that I’m suggesting this), can you wear odd jewelry? A unique brooch, artisan earrings, or even a name-necklace (should be easy to find since your name is popular). Not only is it easy to strike up a conversation with someone over their unique earrings/hair clip/necklace, but if you’re looking at the face region, you might remember the face region.

      Personally, the forgettable problem hasn’t been mine: with red hair and a somewhat unique accent added to unintentionally-funny conversations, people tend to remember at least my face. On top of that, I have a doppelganger somewhere in the area, because people keep asking me/telling me they remember meeting me at CompletelyOtherPlace Company.

      Finally, I don’t know if this helped her or not, but I had a new woman in the workplace ask my name and then confirm the pronunciation a la ‘Catalin, rhymes with Finn’ (not real name). It definitely made me remember her!

  67. Miss V*

    LW says that have a common name, so could she do something to make it stand out? Not change it or use a nickname, but make some comment about it?

    Let’s say my name is …Anna (you can probably guess it’s not). When I introduce myself I say ‘Hi, great to meet you. I’m Anna, but don’t worry if you can’t remember that. I also answer to Anne and Annabelle and Agatha.’

    Not only does it help keep your introduction a little more memorable, but it also lets people know that if they *do* accidentally forget your name that it’s no big deal and you won’t be offended.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      LW says that have a common name, so could she do something to make it stand out? Not change it or use a nickname, but make some comment about it?

      I like that. “Hi, I’m Jane. I know you’ll remember it, because you’ve probably never met someone with such an usual name.”

      Let’s say my name is …Anna (you can probably guess it’s not). When I introduce myself I say ‘Hi, great to meet you. I’m Anna, but don’t worry if you can’t remember that. I also answer to Anne and Annabelle and Agatha.’

      Oh, dear. If you did that to me, I can guarantee I would never remember your name, because you implanted three incorrect ones along with the right one.

      1. Miss V*

        I like this idea a lot more! I think making a joke about how unmemorable the name is will be a great way to make an impression.

        I used that suggestion because that’s what I do, although my name is fairly uncommon and I pretty consistently get called more common names that start with the same letter. Even if people don’t remember my name perfectly they tend to remember my face and my work, which is what I really care about. And I’ve already told them that if they do forget not to be embarrassed.

      2. Persimmons*

        Making a memorable joke is also a great way to prevent nicknames you hate. “Hi, I’m Melissa. Just don’t call me Missy, or I’ll think you’re my mom and I’m in big trouble!”

      3. Cat Herder*

        I do something similar. I have a not too common but conventional first name, which has two different pronunciations. I have a funny mnemonic to help people remember how I pronounce it, but always say, don’t worry if you get it wrong, I’ll still know you’re taking to me!

  68. Gloucesterina*

    In your field, are there formal or informal avenues for you to mentor newer folks, perhaps also including people who may not be white?

    Mentoring is only way to go about this, but I wonder if finding different ways to be a valued node in someone’s network–as opposed to making sure you are remembered by people who appear (on my reading) pretty uninvested in being a great colleague–could be a way to approach how you feel about your visibility or invisibility as a professional, as well as the overall demographic makeup of your field.

    1. Gloucesterina*

      I meant to say – Mentoring isn’t the only way to go about this – just one thought about putting yourself in situations where you can be in the driver’s seat professionally speaking.

    2. Cat Herder*

      I make sure to email thanks to people who’ve been helpful, and cc their supervisor. Someone did this for me once many years ago and I still remember their name!

  69. Cruciatus*

    A lot of people have mentioned seeing a person’s name in an email or LinkedIn as a good helper for remembering someone. What about wearing a name tag at the event? Maybe your employer had a nice one made you could take with you or if there is a name tag desk definitely utilize it (or maybe even bring your own sticker if that’s not toooo horribly weird)! You could have your name and something like “Ask me anything about Teapots!” that might attract attention (in a good way).

  70. Leela*

    There are likely a lot of factors that go into this, and the fact that you’re female in your 40s makes me wonder if people aren’t just assuming, albeit unfairly, if that makes you less important to network with? Are there any big, exciting, or standout projects in your field you could discuss without breaking NDA/common sense? I think I saw a comment up there about a colorful scarf or something and if you’re up for that I’d take it a step further…have you ever travelled and bought a very distinctive scarf, piece of jewelry, etc that you could wear to a networking event? In my experience people tend to comment on stuff like that and you can segue into the trip which gives them kind of a hook to remember you by.

    I also think but am frustrated by the following: I think a lot of people tend to associate confidence, or traits that we view as confident (being louder, more outspoken, etc) with competence, and that we tend to see a very outspoken person and go “wow what a go-getter!” even if that’s not true, and see someone soft-spoken and go “oh I guess she’s not very much of a go-getter”. I think it’s a terrible way to decide who’s worth networking with and who’s not (kind of like the letter AAM got about thinking that people should only get raises if they come to you with a proposal and AAM’s response that you’re only rewarding the loudest, not necessarily the best, workers).

    I’m sure the things I’ve listed are things you’ve thought of but I hope they were helpful in some way? If nothing else, do these events give you blank name tags to fill out that you could draw an eye-catching border on?

    Best of luck to you in this!

  71. Argh!*

    I doubt that the forgetting is “gender neutral.” Men and women both subconsciously discriminate against women.

    If you think it’s not a gendered thing, then take notes about what the man you’re paired with does that you don’t do and try to do those things.

  72. Rusty Shackelford*

    Wear an eye patch?
    Put your monogram on every item of clothing you own, like Laverne from Laverne and Shirley?
    Acquire a memorable scar?

    Sorry, these are probably not very helpful.

  73. Lola*

    Nothing advice-wise to add, but I totally sympathize. I currently let it roll off my back and correct whomever. I let them be embarrassed rather than me; they’re the ones that forgot my name.

    I work in the field in international development, where I am definitely the minority and definitely stick out as a foreigner. There are 3 other foreign white women in my office, and we are all relatively the same height with the same hair color and length. 3/4 of us started around the same time, and people were so confused. There were many instances where someone would find me in my office and say, ‘I’ve been looking all over for you, Sally! Why haven’t you responded to my email about such n such thing?’ or call after me, ‘Sally! Hello! I’m trying to talk to you!’. They even would call the one woman who has been here for 3 years Sally! People would get really peeved with me until I just started being like, ‘My name is not Sally. I’m Lola.’ Oh the shock and apologies! People started insisting that Sally and I go from office to office together to show everyone that we were really two different people. (Some even have gone as far as, ‘all you white people look the same’). It’s been about a year and someone called me Sally yesterday. Smh

  74. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I’m going to give a terrible answer because this exact scenario has happened to me multiple times.

    “Nice to meet you too. We’ve only met 500 times.”

    Yes, I stole that from West Wing.

    Make an effort, people.

  75. Colorado*

    Hi OP. Great question! What works for me.. this sounds weird saying out loud but I have striking blue eyes so when I have a meeting with someone who’s attention I want to grab or who I want to remember me, I wear shirts that really complement them. I am remembered by “Sara – you know the one with the bright blue eyes”. I’m extroverted and friendly but suffer from extreme anxiety when meeting people or conducting meetings, which I have to do often. I very purposely make direct eye contact and have a firm handshake. I try to stand tall and put my shoulders back and project my voice but not too obnoxiously where it’s obvious, just to look confident (and I have terrible posture, so it is good for me to consciously do this). I pretend I’m an actor. I talk myself into it, have a mantra, “you got this!”. Fake it til you make it. A few who I’ve told how anxious I am are very surprised, I have learned to hide it well. I do walk away from these situations emotionally exhausted, but it does work. Usually I need down time after these interactions, even if it’s a walk around the block, or a little internet surfing on AAM. Maybe I’m not so extroverted.. Good luck! Lots of good ideas here.

    One last thing – an old boss told me to write a few memorable things about someone you met on the back of their business card. Then you have it when you meet again.

    1. asleep or maybe dead*

      Oh, the business card annotation thing! I personally find it very helpful, but I’m always torn about it, because some consider writing on other people’s card to be very disrespectful. So that’s good to keep in mind.

        1. only acting normal*

          Very culture dependent.
          Some countries have social rituals around business cards, like: you should always offer and accept them with both hands, never one; or never take a card with your left hand; or always pause and read the card just handed to you.
          UK and US (and others no doubt) are very laid back about them in comparison.

  76. Bea*

    This is where being a tall person with distinctive hair has helped me. I’ve found that as I started becoming increasingly louder and more candid the assorted people I deal with have started also remembering me as well.

    If you’re quiet and not captivating rooms, it’s easier to blend in.

    I also skip assuming they’ll know me and reintroduce if it’s been awhile. “Hello! It’s me, Bea. Thanks for meeting with me again today!”

  77. Sarah*

    I’m a quiet, fairly average looking female about your age, and I’ve found that two things help me. One, I make the most of what does set me apart – I have curly hair and I rock that – but far more helpful, I’ve cultivated a professional standing on social media that’s really helped me. It does take work, but many times, I’ve had clients, customers, new acquaintances, etc. volunteer that they recognize me from my Twitter and LinkedIn profiles that they follow.

  78. Victoria, Please*

    My group has created “bio cards” to hand out. They are about 4×5. They’re colorful. On one side they have our pictures, two “About me” sentences, another two sentences “How I can help you,” which is specific to the individual’s role, and contact information. On the other side we have information about our department in general.

    They are really memorable, people like them a lot.

  79. Becca*

    The way to get people to remember you is to make a connection with them. I think you’ll have better luck if you make a real effort to make small (yet purposeful) talk with the end goal of identifying one thing that you have in common with the person you meet with.

    1. CM*

      Agreed. Also consider calling rather than emailing on occasion, and bringing up your connection when you talk to them (which could be reminding them about the last time you talked professionally, or following up on something personal like “How’s your cat doing? Last time we talked, she was keeping you up all night.”)

    2. Triple Anon*

      And humor! Humor goes a LONG way. If you can make someone laugh, they’ll remember you fondly. You just have to work on styles of humor that are work-appropriate and have a broad appeal.

  80. Cheesecake 2.0*

    One of the high level C suite people at my work preemptively introduces himself to every single person, every single time, regardless of whether they’ve met before. I’ve “met” him at least 6 times now. On one hand, it’s kinda silly and we giggle about it a bit, but on the other hand, it removes the expectation that people know who he is on sight, and vice versa.

  81. Rachel*

    I can also commiserate, but I can say that you should embrace embarrassing the crap out of people. When someone doesn’t remember me, nothing brings me more inner joy than just matter-of-factly stating, in front of all your colleagues, “Oh, we’ve actually met before at X, blah blah blah”. Smile and be warm and sweet, like it’s not a big deal to you. The thing to remember here is that the embarrassment is theirs, not yours.

    1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I constantly forget that I’ve met people, not out of malice but just because my memory isn’t very good. I have to say, I feel so, so, so stupid and humiliated when people do this to me.

    2. nep*

      I don’t think that’s a great approach–we can’t know why people don’t recall all that…

  82. Gennifer*

    Along the same lines, I always have trouble *remembering* the people I meet! My field is small and relies very much on networking and “who you know”, and entry-level people are often brushing shoulders with the much more prominent folk. But at every conference and networking event and such, I wish I could snap a pic of someone’s face and label it with their name, business info, how I met them, why I need to know them, and whether I promised to email them about a work topic! Then I’ll take a rolodex of these flash cards with me everywhere I go lol
    If anyone has any tips, please feel free!

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I know people who use the “let’s take a selfie” thing exactly for this purpose!

      1. only acting normal*

        It’s a pretty good idea. But I’m pondering just how well selfies would have gone down at the conference I just went to… they’d certainly remember me (as the loon taking selfies :-O). Very field dependent I fear!

  83. NonprofitHeather*

    This must be very frustrating, especially from those you regularly email. I don’t notice this happening to me too often…but that might be because I’m the forgetful one. It’s mainly people I meet at networking events, not those I work with on a regular basis. Although I was once managing a program with about 15 participants where most of the communication was by email, and at an in-person event a few months later I completely forgot one of the participants. I felt like a real jerk.

    Anyway, I’ve found that if I can connect with someone over one common/interesting detail while networking, I’m much more likely to remember them at the next event. Like, oh that’s the person who also loves dogs / grew up on the East Coast, or that’s the person who is training to hike the Appalachian Trail. You don’t have to bare your soul or anything, but if you can find that connection point or offer up one memorable tidbit about yourself, that might help. And remember that in most of these situations, it’s them, not you. Good luck!

  84. Eunster126*

    I wear a name tag. Literally anytime I leave the office. My company provides really nice magnetic ones that I throw on my jacket pretty much anytime I may be seeing someone that I don’t have regular communication with. I work with a lot of high profile community and business leaders and it seems to help them at least recognize my very long first and last name.

  85. Sarah in Boston*

    People have mentioned business cards already but what about ones that have your photo on them? I just had new personal cards made (for travel or conventions for example) and the front has my head shot and name, while the back has all the contact info. I wish everyone’s cards had pics (like they do in Japan).

  86. MCR*

    Everyone seems to be focusing on appearance to be remembered, but I disagree – I think it’s more about being engaging with others. This is an area that I struggle with a lot – I loathe small talk, and I constantly worry about being too intrusive when I try to get to know others better in a professional setting. But it’s a skill I’ve worked on quite a bit because I’m in an industry (law, private practice) in which client relationships are critical, and clients are more likely to work with you if they like you. Similarly, I think clients and other professional contacts are more likely to REMEMBER you if you have non-work conversation and seem likable. Even if I am primarily working with people via email, I like to close my emails with small talk: “Oh, I see you are based in City X – I went to college there! I still dream about [popular local restaurant]”; “Hope you have a great day and get a chance to celebrate [local sport’s team] victory!”; “Can we schedule a check-in for sometime next month? Do you have any vacation plans that we should be working around?”. Etc. On the phone or in person, it’s even easier – if you are invited to say a little bit about yourself, include some personal details too. If not, whenever you talk first, preface with some background info – “Nice to meet you! Before we launch into things, as background, I’ve been in field X in city Y for 5 years, but before that I was in city Z…” etc. Good luck!

    1. Catwoman*

      +1 for this. If you feel comfortable, then adding in some personal information goes a long way to humanize you and take you from Project Manager from Company X to Patricia who used to live in Ann Arbor.

  87. nep*

    Think about the extent to which you remember those you’ve been in contact with in your job–do you remember their names every time and all the details about your interactions with them? Only reason I ask this is that we might magnify our own ‘forgettability,’ when really sometimes it might be a case of everyone being so wrapped up in him/her self…perhaps it’s not a case of people remembering exact details about everyone but us, but it can feel that way.

  88. LibKae*

    I’d add that as someone with mild to moderate face blindness (and an inability to remember names — basically everyone is the same person to me the first few times I meet them :/ ), I’m aware that it’s on me, and I’m always very frustrated with myself when it’s brought to my attention that I failed to remember someone I’ve met before, so it’s possible that’s what’s going on for the folks who aren’t remembering they’ve met you.

    If you know this is happening to you anyway, what would help me is a gentle prod, like some of the others have suggested: “Hi, I’m Drusilla. It’s good to see you again. I can’t believe it’s already been six months since our last project meeting!” Or something to that effect — for those like me who don’t always remember folks, sometimes that can help put you in a context. I probably still won’t remember having met you, in particular, in the first meeting, but I’m likely to remember that meeting itself, and it will significantly increase the chances that I’ll retain a memory of you after the second meeting.

  89. Catwoman*

    There are lots of great comments on here about tweaking your wardrobe or other parts of your appearance to include some distinctive elements. I definitely agree with this.

    However, if cultivating a distinct personal style is not much of your thing, then you can try something equivalent with other senses: a distinct scent, or a unique way of introducing yourself. I used to work in an open plan office and when asked my name on the phone, I was teased by my colleagues (in a good-natured way) for saying something along the line of “Suzanne Spends, as in Suzanne spends too much money”. (My last name can be a verb, and I came up with a quirky sentence using it that way.) It was silly, but memorable. Also, the field I’m in is a bit more casual so it came across as funny but not unprofessional. I’ve since changed jobs a couple of times, but my former colleagues from that job still remember my sentence.

  90. memyselfandi*

    I have the opposite problem. I cannot remember people. I thought I was good at remembering my students when I taught, but it turns out I was remembering where they sat more than their faces!

    My strategy for being remembered is one that many people here have mentioned. I try to distinguish myself in dress and style. Right now I found a shoe company that makes heels that fit my rather oddly shaped feet, so I am using shoes to distinguish myself. Works better for women than for men. I mean that both ways. Women notice my shoes more than men and men have fewer options for distinctive shoes to distinguish themselves.

  91. A Little Quiet Too*

    I’m naturally quite reserved (not shy! Just not bouncing off the walls and “a little quiet when I first meet someone” describes me to a T), and I have this exact problem. In my last job, I was there for 5 years and outside of my immediate team (5 people), it was like I was invisible, in a company where everyone seemed to know everyone.

    BUT I think the “little quiet when I first meet someone” is actually key here (it was for me). Outside of work, that’s fine. I make friendships slowly and am happy to let my friends and family do most of the talking when meeting someone new. AT WORK, I cannot do that. I also work on partnerships projects where I’m being introduced to new people and have to have them remember me, and I’ve found that if I don’t lead with confidence in that first meeting and force myself to NOT be quiet, then it’s hard to get that ball rolling later on.

    Here’s what has worked for me:

    1) Take control of introductions. I’m in a job now where I come in to be the creative lead on a lot of outside partnerships with companies and individuals. By the time I come on to a project, someone on my team has already been working with the partner for a while. They always introduce me (which is great and polite!) and then I immediately reintroduce myself. So the conversation goes:
    Partnerships Manager: “We’re so excited to get this project rolling! Hermione is our great creative producer, and she’ll be working with you from here on out to do XYZ on the project.”
    Me: “Yes! I’m psyched to get started. As Partnerships Manager said, I’m Hermione and I work one on one with our partners to create XXX. I’ll do this with you by YYY over the coming weeks.”

    Even if I’m essentially repeating the partnerships manager, when someone else is introducing you, that’s the person everyone is paying attention to. They aren’t paying attention to you. Make sure you introduce yourself.

    2) I make it personal. Right after my intro sentences above, I’ll add something like the following:
    Me: “I’m particularly looking forward to this project because (insert option here: “I already know and love this topic, I know nothing about this and have been meaning to learn, This area is a particular passion of mine, I’m so intrigued by XXX, I’ve heard such great things about your team, I haven’t had the chance to work on a topic like this in a while, etc etc).
    If the above doesn’t work, I’ll usually go for some kind of LOCATION BASED CHATTER. This is way better than talking about the weather because it feels like it’s about the other person, even though it’s safe and impersonal. I usually work over video chat, so I’ll say, “Remind me where you guys are based again?” They answer, and I use it for a 30 second diversion into something person:
    Anywhere on the West Coast? I’m from California! I miss the outdoors so much.
    Somewhere I haven’t been? Oh, that’s on my list! You’ll have to send me some recs when I make it out there.
    Somewhere I have been? Oh, I love XXX! I was there a few years ago and want to go back.
    Somewhere I’ve never heard of, never want to go, etc? Oh, I haven’t had the opportunity to spend any time in (the south, the midwest, the east coast, the rockies, insert much larger, general area here). Should I add it to my list?
    NYC? Oh great! How long have you been here? Sometimes I can’t believe it’s been a decade for me.

    3) I constantly re-introduce myself. My work often goes like this: Initial video call or in person meeting > 4 – 6 weeks of email communication several times a week > in person meeting. At the in person meeting at the end, even for someone I’ve been emailing with DAILY, when I initially come up to them I say “Harry? Hermione! Nice to finally see you in person/see you again!” as I’m stepping up and sticking out my hand for a hand shake (Just like that – I literally exclaim my own name. For some reason saying it on it’s own without “It’s Hermione” or “I’m Hermione” feels more like a “you probably remember, but to help you save face in case” kind of kindness instead of a “I’m so insecure I’m assuming you don’t remember me” kind of awkward moment.)

    4) I’ve asked my manager for help. Namely, helping get me into appropriate meetings that are just above my pay grade so I can get to know the executives at my company slowly + asking for speaking opportunities, even though they scare me like crazy. Having to stand up in front of my company several times a quarter and say “Hi everyone, for those of you who might not know me, I’m Hermione and I work on the Arithmancy team doing XYZ, and I’d love to share a bit about yadda yadda yadda today” has done wonders for my confidence in networking situations, helped my ability to roll out my elevator pitch at any time, and has helped my visibility within the company.

  92. Maddie*

    Speak up a little more. Make an effort to introduce yourself with confidence without going overboard. Charisma is an inborn trait that some are just gifted with, but it can be worked on.

  93. SemiRetired*

    I am currently reading (listening to) Alan Alda’s “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” which is about effective communication. I don’t have any specific suggestions from it, but, in one of the chapters he talks about how memories are retained. Apparently, storytelling is a technique, as well as strong emotion. So, you might talk more (without venturing into unprofessionalism) with something like “a funny thing happened on the way to getting these TPS reports printed” or share something personal with some emotional content. You don’t want to be known as “the one who cried when her cat died” or anything like that, but, “the one who tripped on the way to printing the TPS reports” might be OK.
    I suggest reading the book (or something else – Dale Carnegie?) about personal presentation for ideas.
    I also like the colored streak in the hair idea :)

  94. Purple Jello*

    Be sure to repetitively use the other person’s name when you meet them. People like it when others use their name, and are more likely to remember you if you use their name.

  95. IlseBurnley*

    I haven’t read every comment, so apologies if this is a repeat, but here are a few things that have helped ME remember others:
    1. Greet people by name. It triggers a bit of an “oh s***” response when I don’t know someone’s name, and they clearly know mine, and I will then undertake the mental work of remembering who they are – which actually strengthens the memory for the future, due to my own mental effort to retrieve their name and where we met. Plus, there’s a bit of shame from the realization that “this person has made a point of remembering me and I haven’t done the same – I owe them that respect and need to do the mental work to remember them”…which also reinforces the memory further by linking it to emotion.
    2. Be “a person.” Humanize yourself. Share something lightly personal, make a joke, etc.
    3. Keep track of who you are meeting and what you learned about them, so you can enrich their experience with you by asking questions and therefore being more memorable. EG “Have you been to any Husky games this year? Have you made it back home to Spokane recently? How’s your puppy doing?” It signals “you are a person of importance to me” which for most people will elevate you to a similar status in their mind, since reciprocity is a strong instinct for most of us.
    4. Visual cues + emotional experience = memorability. Be consistent in how you appear, and if you can have something distinctive, even better. But this will only help if you’re consistent. Emotional response is generated by the sense of being recognized, heard, made to laugh…whatever it may be, it needs to go beyond just business. Even showing a sense of excitement about the business you’re doing together will help because it is appropriately emotional.
    5. Again, use what we know about how memories are formed – enrich the neural connection with repeat contact. Follow up after meeting someone with a quick email note saying how great it was to meet them, add them on LinkedIn with a note, drop by their office for a quick hello – don’t let the first meeting dwindle away in isolation.

    1. Argh!*

      re: #2 of your list, also: disclose something about yourself especially something you have in common.

  96. Teacher Creature*

    When I introduce myself to my students, I say my name and then make a reference to it. For instance, “I’m Miss Abbel*, don’t forget to give me an apple” or something like that. I encourage my students to do the same thing–find a rhyming word or a mnemonic device to help everyone remember their names. Perhaps you could do the same when you introduce yourself to colleagues?

    *Not my real name!

    1. Argh!*

      My name is similar to other names, so I say “like Famous-person-with-my-name,” but we’re not related. The famous person with my name is a black man and I’m a white woman, so I hope that works. At least it makes me say my last name more than once.

  97. Caz*

    A tip from someone who once led a training course I was in – statement jewellery. Every day she wore a big necklace, a bright scarf, a lovely brooch. 5+ years later I can remember a necklace that she wore, the course she taught, her name, and the company she represented (majority of our training is in-house).

    Also – and it’s possible this one goes without saying – remind people every time your paths cross of the last time you met/the next time you hope to. “Oh it’s good to see you again, we met at that teapot conference in February didn’t we? I really enjoyed the presentation about innovative spout design! Will I see you at the big loose leaf vs tea bag debate?”

  98. Triple Anon*

    I’ve had similar experiences. I come across as soft spoken and unremarkable in appearance.

    What’s helped me is finding ways to look more unique without straying from my preference to wear basic clothing that doesn’t stand out. One signature item – or hairstyle or whatever – can go a long way. Pick something that people will comment on and remember.

    I’ve also worked on becoming more outgoing – making better eye contact, getting better at small talk, getting better at genuinely connecting with people I’ve just met, getting better at making jokes, all that stuff. I think that a lot of people (most people?) struggle with social skills to some extent, although the way it comes out can take many shapes. It’s a skill that we all can continue to improve on throughout our lives. Just watch people who seem to be good at it and learn from what they’re doing.

    Also, that last paragraph is not meant to imply that you have poor social skills! I mean that we all have room for improvement in that area and I think it’s a helpful thing to focus on if you want to achieve a specific thing socially, whether it’s being remembered or anything else.

    1. Argh!*

      … and it’s not changing your personality to do those things. It’s having a persona, like a part in a play, and putting on that persona when the situation that calls for it arises. There’s nothing wrong with being a quiet person, but in a noisy environment (including emotional noise), it pays to speak up literally or figuratively.

  99. beth*

    A lot of people have trouble remembering the names and faces of people they’ve only met once or twice, especially if they met at a time when they were meeting a lot of new people. I think people are most likely to remember if either 1) they think it’s important for them to remember the person (e.g. their boss’ boss’ boss, or someone high up in their field), or 2) the person is distinctive enough to stand out from everyone else in their memory.

    OP, you probably can’t majorly impact how important people think you are, but you can make yourself stand out more. That could look like adjusting your appearance to be a little more distinctive. It could look like a memorable way of introducing yourself. It could look like speaking more often and more confidently, so people start to look to you for answers. It could look like showing your sense of humor a bit more in these meetings. Basically, take whatever is a little unique about you (that’s work-appropriate, obviously) and emphasize it a bit more. It won’t make everyone remember–that’s a futile goal, really–but it could tilt the odds a bit more in your favor.

  100. drpuma*

    I tend to repeat myself, both so I know I’m pronouncing the other person’s name right and to help them remember mine. So if I were introducing myself to you, it might go something like this:
    Me: “Hi, I’m drpuma.”
    You: “I’m OP.”
    Me: “OP? [points at self, smiles] drpuma.”
    Always friendly. And then in professional situations following up with some context as other folks have mentioned:
    “I work in the teapot planning department with Marigold, I think your colleague Dram has helped us out with spouts before.”
    And I second the suggestion to add a picture on your internal email/messenger, if possible. I also have an extremely consistent work “look” – same hairstyle always, glasses, always wearing black and white patterned dresses. It makes shopping and getting dressed easier but probably also keeps me extremely recognizable.

  101. Kat Em*

    I’ve been told that picking a signature color and wearing it consistently in some form can be really helpful. You don’t need to be wild (although it shouldn’t be a neutral), but wearing a turquoise blouse on Monday a turquoise necklace on Tuesday, a turquoise scarf on Wednesday, turquoise shoes on Thursday, etc. will make you more memorable without feeling cartoony. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about coordinating your accessories.

  102. Quickbeam*

    Eye contact, shake hands, speak up. If your business has any public speaking /educational opportunities, volunteer and give a presentation. Make your name unique….at a nursing seminar 20 years ago I met Sally DeCicco who introduced her self and yanked on her cheek as a pronunciation guide. I met several hundred people that day and she is the one I remember. Don’t feel badly about introducing yourself again with your full name.

  103. Invisible Me*

    I’m super disheartened that most of the advice is centered around looking different or changing one’s basic personality. I don’t know what the solution is (because I have had this issue, too), but it’s really discouraging that being oneself isn’t good enough.

    1. Thlayli*

      It’s not about being “good”. People don’t remember you because you are “good”. They remember you if you are memorable. Being memorable is not a value judgement – bad or good is irrelevant to how memorable you are.

      Although, OP, at least you can take heart in the fact that it’s better to be forgotten than to be remembered for being “bad”.

    2. beth*

      I don’t think this is actually about personality at all. We’re talking about being remembered by people who we’ve met once or twice before, right? They don’t know our personality. They don’t know the general quality of our work. They only know what they saw in the short period where we’d previously met–which could have been ages ago.

      If you want people to remember you quickly, it makes sense that you need to stand out in some way. And it needs to be a way that’s easily observable right off the bat. Often this means visuals; I stand out because I’m an unusually tall woman, and people often remember that we’ve met even if they don’t remember my name or what we talked about. For someone without a built-in stand-out feature, style choices like clothing or hair are an easy way to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes it’s conversation based–a clever name mnemonic, a witty sense of humor, that kind of thing.

      But that’s only important if you want to be remembered off a quick interaction. People you see regularly–your immediate coworkers, your neighbors, your weekly board game club–will learn your actual personality and remember you based on that. If that’s the part that matters to you, that’s equally valid; you just need to give them enough time to do it.

  104. needcoffee*

    As someone who is barely 5′, I wish people wouldn’t remember me. Everyone in town recognizes me.

    1. Tau*

      Honestly, this whole post is making me feel oddly grateful for my speech disorder. Anyone who doesn’t remember me was probably unconscious during introductions.

      Although there are some nice tips here for attempting to be remembered for something other than “oh god she got stuck on her name for something like ten seconds and it was the awkwardest thing.” Maybe they can help you out too?

  105. KitKat100000*

    Here is my advice (I didn’t read through the comments above – sorry if anything is repetitive!):
    1. Add the person on LinkedIn after you meet so that they can always have a photo to connect with your name (and then they will also see you pop up once or twice a year with work anniversaries, birthdays, or the occasional blog post).
    2. Make an effort to include something social outside the meeting. That may mean that you should have a lunch before hand or a dinner afterwards – something where you can spend an hour or two getting to know someone on a more personal level and where they can get to know you on a more personal level.
    3. Hand out your business cards and ask for theirs as well.
    4. While not possible at every company, make sure your company profile has your picture on it.
    5. Don’t wear some weird funky glasses or giant pin – I think people would remember you for your weird attire choices – and that’s not great either.
    6. Depending on someone’s profession, they may meet new people every day or they may very rarely meet new people. When you are reconnecting with someone in person or via email, it’s okay to remind them of where you last met. (Hello, Mr. Smith, it’s good to see you again. I believe we last met at Teapot Conference in Virginia last year – how are you doing?)
    7. Find a way to connect with someone on a personal level so that they are more likely to remember you – maybe you’re from the same area of the country, or you both lived in St. Louis in 1983, or you’re both fans of Bob Ross and watercolor paintings, or you both like a certain sports team – anything that can connect you outside of business may be helpful. (Hello, Ms. Smith, it’s good to see you again. I believe last time we chatted at the Teapot Conference about our mutual love of the Cleveland Browns – are you looking forward to the upcoming season?)
    8. Ask your coworker who is more well known for advice on what she does to be remembered.
    9. Try to have more calls that just email conversation – that way people can remember your voice.
    10. When introducing yourself to someone you have only met once or twice before, use your name and acknowledge that you have only met once or twice before, but that you’re glad to see them again (Hello, Mr. Smith, my name is Sansa Stark – I believe we have met once or twice before – perhaps last year at the Teapot Conference? I think we shared our mutual love for Bob Ross! How are you doing?)

    I hope some of this can be helpful!!

  106. Erin*

    (Warning: not a serious answer or advice.)

    You could marry someone with a bizarre last name and have your name changed. People totally remember Erin Nudi but Erin Landers got lost in the shuffle.

  107. Thlayli*

    I’m awful at remembering people. The people I find it hardest to remember are just as you have described yourself – you look and dress more or less like everyone else and you are quiet and don’t talk much at a first meeting.

    I agree with all the suggestions about tying to find a visual trademark to differentiate yourself visually, and trying to connect to people more when you first meet. I would also add – talk more when you first meet people. When someone is quiet at a first meeting, I assume they are shy and don’t want to talk to strangers so I basically leave them alone and talk to everyone else, because I don’t want to crowd them.Which obviously means I don’t remember them at all next time I meet them.

  108. Lucille2*

    There are loads of comments about personal appearance, and being a woman who dresses conservatively, I would like to make some other suggestions. Yes, there are things you can do with clothing and hair that will stand out. I once worked with a guy who sported the handlebar mustache. People remembered him, but he was an attention seeker by nature, so people would remember him without a mustache.

    How are you presenting yourself when meeting new colleagues? Are you introduced by someone else? Are you saying very little in the meeting? If that’s the case, you’re letting yourself fall into the background. As a fellow introvert, I don’t feel the need to be heard in a crowd or compete with the big personality. However, when an introvert speaks up, it’s often well thought out and compelling new info and people listen. Look people in the eye when you speak to them and ask them follow up questions when they introduce themselves like, “You work in teapot production? Are you in quality or on the manufacturing side of the house?” That gets a conversation started. Find a seat in the room that is central in the meeting, not in the back corner because it’s comfortable. And if you have an opinion, speak up!

    1. PersonalJeebus*

      There it is! Finally! My number one advice for this problem is to HAVE AN OPINION, and share it. Share it early, share it often.

      Okay, maybe not too often, if it’s the same opinion ad nauseum. What I mean is, if there is a question up for discussion, try to be the first person to give your answer, if you can think of a good one. Whenever opinions or ideas are solicited, take the earliest opportunity to share yours. If there’s a debate, defend and elaborate on your point of view. Or if someone changes your mind, say, “Actually, you’re right, that is the way to go.” If you’re the person who poses the question for discussion, don’t hang back and let everyone else answer it; there’s still room for your opinion. Better yet, start off with a declaration instead of a question, and let others be responsible for speaking up if they disagree.

      People will remember you as “the person who suggested Plan Y,” “the person who disagreed with me,” “the person who was in my corner from the get-go”, “the person who finally got on board with my idea.”

      OP, you say you are a confident (though soft-spoken) person in general, so I hope this will be something you can put into practice. You don’t have to become louder, quirkier, or more colorful to do it.

  109. Sarah*

    I read some of the comments and please take my apology if I am repetitive here.

    The overall topic of ‘visibilty’ seems to emerge throught the comments. I agree, being visible can start with the apperance as it forms our first impression. However, it must not stop there. Visibilty is also a matter of attidude – and we all have a spectrum of visibilty we feel comfortable with.

    I struggle myself with this issue. Being visible also means other could see my flaws and mistakes often triggering the feeling of ‘being not competent enough for the job’.
    What helped me the last few weeks is using the principles of working out loud from John Stepper. The main element of the approach is to make your work visible by helping others. For doing so, John Stepper developed a 12 week guided programm for meeting with a fixed group of 4-5 people online or offline. The guide is a step by step programm with different task that allow you to ‘get out there’ in a way it makes you comfortable. I have to add, everything is for free, and if you google it you can find John steppers blog as well as all the guides. Or here:

    It could be woth a try to look at the visibilty in a borader perspective and seeks out ways to work out loud.

    Good luck!

  110. Sarah*

    Dear all,
    please excuse eventual double-posting. There seems a technical problem as my comment did not appear in the comment section.

    By reading through your text and some comments my first thought as well was that the overall topic is ‘being visible’. For being visible the appearance is a first necessary step – however, I think being visible is also an overall attitude. And we all have a different comfort zone on the spectrum of visibility.
    I struggle as well with being visible. Being seen means, that also flaws and mistakes are seen. An aspect that triggers my feeling of ‘being not competent enough’ quite quickly.
    In the last few weeks I tried a new approach that was recommended to me by my coach. I joined a 12- week circle with 4 other great women (that I didn’t knew before) and together we use the approach of Working out loud by John Stepper. The goal is, to make your work visible by helping others. For doing so, Stepper developed a guide with tasks that we work on every week. The guide is for free and can be downloaded online. You find his blog easily as well.
    For me, this approach already changed my perception on being more open – maybe it is of interest for you as well.

  111. Michael Scott*

    “I don’t really know Gabe. I know that whenever I hear his name, or see him, I am surprised, and then I remember who he is.

    He is, you know like how when people discover that someone is a serial killer, and people say: “Wow, he seemed like a very nice normal guy!”? That’s- I wish he was that normal.”

  112. Delta Delta*

    One day I was feeling especially plucky in a meeting and introduced myself, “hi, I’m Delta and I’m a superhero.” People laughed and then I said my real job (aka day/non-superhero job). Three years later I saw someone from the meeting who said “ha! The superhero!” Forgot my name but I apparently made some sort of impression.

  113. Empty Sky*

    I like the suggestions about asking people about themselves. A variation would be to ask their opinion on something that’s relevant to your work or theirs.

    Situationally appropriate humor is good too. Ask your friends and family what they like best about you, and then think about whether you are displaying those qualities in a professional context (and if not, whether you could appropriately do a bit more of it).

    One tactic you could try if you’re careful about when and where you do it would be using the Peter Thiel interview question in conversation: “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you about.” Either ask it or answer it, and see what happens. If you don’t like that, pick another topic or question that’s interesting but sufficiently non-controversial to be safe.

  114. Chrys*

    I find that complimenting someone I just met – “I like your glasses” or “nice shirt” – has helped me out. I struggled with professional invisibility for a while, but when I started making others feel better about themselves, they seemed to remember me in return. And it’s always nice to brighten someone’s day.

  115. cp*

    Anyway to try making more personal connections with people you want to be remembered by? So that they have a chance to remember you as “Susan from Umbrella Corp PR who hiked Matchu Pitchu last year, and we talked about how we both don’t have kids but love being the fun aunt” rather than just “Susan from Umbrella Corp.”

  116. AnonInfinity*

    You described yourself as quiet with thoughtful contributions during meetings. I think that’s your problem. Did you take a backseat to your more well-known colleague during that big meeting? Did your colleague do the loud talking and carry the big ideas? In other realms at work, do you usually sit back and take a measured, quiet approach?

    When I started at my current company, I was like a mouse. My boss kept introducing me to people and taking me to meetings, but I would be quiet, thoughtful, and behind-the-scenes effective (in my introverted, inside-my-own-head world, everyone noticed my quiet competence…). No one remembered me. Then I started talking in meetings and taking a more forward approach (not dominating, not inappropriate), and people started to remember my name and my face. They remembered me because I engaged – and sometimes it wasn’t thoughtful, sometimes it was a “I’m just spitballing here…” I shared my thoughts. I shared my ideas. I shared my concerns. I followed-up with emails. I got really involved, and I stayed involved. The entire C-suite of my company knows my name and my face now (for good reasons!).

    Basically, it’s important to have quiet moments, it’s important to be thoughtful, it’s good to be measured and not a loose cannon, but no one knows about the people pulling the curtain strings for a big play. They know the faces on the stage. Get on stage.

    (Small talk helps immensely: carry a pre-meeting conversation. If you have trouble with that, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve read (and I forget where…) is to just say what’s on your mind (appropriately), rather than hunting to find the Perfect Something to say. People will remember you if they’ve actually talked with you, even if it’s about something completely irrelevant.)

  117. Matt*

    I have the opposite problem – I don’t remember faces very well. I must know people for rather a long time to recognize them instantly with some reliability. Everyone seems to remember me very well, people I’ve just sat with in one meeting greet me, and I just don’t know who the f… this is …

    On the other side, I remember names very well. Recently I met one former schoolmate at the supermarket, he seemed to be staring back at me, I wondered what this man wanted from me, then he approached me and asked me about if I was at that school. After he introduced himself, I immediately knew who he was … he, on the other side, recognized me even as a 20+ years older adult man, but couldn’t remember my name :-)

  118. bopper*

    Maybe it is time to read that “Lean In” book.

    You are forgettable because you are not being memorable. You need something that will make you stick in people’s minds.
    Are you literally sitting at the table in meetings (as opposed to along the wall)?
    Are you speaking up enough?
    If you are, are you making it memorable? That is, are you really identifying with the customer and making them feel you are helping them solve a problem?
    Are you dressing generically?
    Are you connecting to people on Linked in? Posting on linked in so people see your name once in a while? Do you have a picture on linkedin?
    Are you introducing yourself (like others mentions) so that they remember your name? Ann Fernando, like the bull or whatever. Also maybe do some small talk and see what people’s hobbies are…people like to talk about themselves…see if you have any thing in common. “I overheard you talking about hiking…where have you been lately? We just went up to the White Mountains.”
    Do you follow up with people? “It was nice to meet you at the meeting. Attached are slides. Let me know if you have any follow up questions.”
    At work, make sure your photo is in your profile.

  119. Nola*

    Whenever I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while, I stick my hand out and say, “Hi, I’m Nola, we met at X / I’m the account rep for Y / whatever.” Sometimes they say “I know” but most of the time they shake my hand and tell me their name, which is handy in case I forgot myself. I guess my point is that I just assume they won’t remember my name and try to make it easy for them to avoid awkwardness.

    Sometimes I joke that invisibility is my super power, as I can walk in anywhere and nobody will stop me, ask what I’m doing, or generally pay any attention to me at all. This is a privilege considering how many people are often treated by others who don’t recognize them. I’m tall, wear red glasses, and fairly distinctive looking, but sometimes none of that matters. There’s a professional group I’m in that has a dinner meeting every two months. There’s one guy I’ve introduced myself to at every meeting for years. Literally, one time he mistook me for the waitress, when I was wearing a business suit and name tag for the meeting.

    I bristle at the idea that it’s my responsibility to make someone else find me memorable, as through I were not deserving of recognition unless I meet that person’s idea of what is interesting. I’m not interested in putting on a show to be memorable. I guess that’s why I just find it easier to assume they won’t remember me and reintroduce myself.

  120. F.M.*

    I’ve occasionally said that I long for VR overlays just so that I can finally get the name hovering over people’s heads that I can get in MMORPGs. (Ideally with a different color for ones I’ve interacted with before, like a clicked link. And a notes field so I can remind myself how/why I know that person…)

  121. SubwayFan*

    Late to this party, but here’s a trick I use that a) gets people to remember me/my name and b) keeps them from calling me a common nickname I hate. My name is simple and common, like “Jess” and when I introduce myself I say, “I’m Jess, like Jess the Best.” Later on people will always remembers I’m Jess the Best, and hardly anyone ever calls me Jessie.

    One thing to note, is I do say this with a grin and a smile, noting that I do not think I am “the Best” in everything, making it clear it’s just a trick to make my name more memorable. Otherwise, I think people would think I was a really arrogant jerk.

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