It always starts innocently enough. Maybe you’re in a meeting with some colleagues you don’t regularly interact with. Or perhaps you’re at a networking event or happy hour with some industry acquaintances.

Somebody shakes your hand or offers a friendly wave and says, “It’s really great to meet you.”

Sigh. There’s only one problem: You’ve actually met this person before—maybe even several times.

As much as you’d like to point the finger at that person’s obviously-faulty memory (and hey, the average person does forget approximately four things each day), you’re beginning to wonder if the problem is actually you.

Why can’t people seem to commit your name and face to memory? And what can you do about it? Here’s what you need to know. 

What’s the big deal with being memorable?

Let’s start by defining what it means to be memorable. It’s pretty simple: Being memorable means you’re easily remembered. 

People don’t struggle to recall information about you—whether it’s nuts and bolts information like your name and job title, or something more personal like the fact that you’re currently training for a marathon. 

Maybe you’re thinking, “Hey, being forgotten isn’t so bad!” After all, it means you aren’t the first one blamed when the office’s kitchen sink fills with dishes and nobody recalls that time you embarrassed yourself in that team meeting.

However, there are some important benefits related to being memorable, including:

  • You have an easier time forging work relationships: It’s pretty hard to move a relationship forward if you constantly need to remind that colleague, client, or networking acquaintance who you are. It’s like you’re starting from scratch every single time.
  • You’ll get the recognition you deserve: When you’re memorable, your hard work doesn’t slip by unnoticed. People will commend you for your wins and achievements, which is way more rewarding than constantly sliding under the radar. Plus, it’s motivating. 40% of American employees say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. 
  • You’ll cultivate a reputation: You don’t just want to do good work—you want to be known for it. Unfortunately, building a positive reputation is an uphill battle if people are constantly forgetting what you bring to the table. Being memorable helps you gain momentum and foster a personal brand you’re proud of. do you become more memorable? 

Being memorable offers a lot of advantages. But, how do you stop being so quickly forgotten? Here are four tips to leave a more lasting and positive impression. 

1. Do great work 

While research shows that we tend to remember negative experiences more than positive ones, that’s not exactly the legacy you want to leave at work. You want to be remembered for your value and contributions—not for your faults and flaws. 

But, even though positive interactions might not have the staying power of negative ones, doing great work is still an effective way to become more memorable.

Why? Well, because people remember a job well done.

Think about it in the context of your personal life. Was there a time that you had a great customer service interaction? I’m willing to bet you remember that person’s name.

The same concept can be applied to your own career. Acing a project, achieving a goal, and delivering top-notch results for your company and team members can all make you that much more memorable. 

2. Flex your own memory

Wait...what? Isn’t this about improving other people’s memories? What does your own brain have to do with it?

Remembering things about other people—from their name to their go-to coffee order or anything in between—can help make you more memorable in return.

Imagine this: You run into an industry acquaintance at a conference. You greet one another, shake hands, and then you say, “Hey, how was your vacation to Bora Bora? Last time we spoke, you were getting ready to go.”

You’ve just recalled a tidbit from that person’s own life. And, even if they might not remember you in that exact moment, you can bet you’re going to be more memorable moving forward.

Why? Because guilt is a powerful motivator. They’ll feel that twinge of regret for not being able to recall more about you, and that will be their inspiration to change moving forward. There you have it—you became more memorable, while also building on your rapport. 

3. Offer help

Some personality traits are more memorable than others. As it turns out, reliability and trustworthiness come in near the top of the list. 

One surefire way to show that you’re dependable is to step in and help—even without being asked. Go ahead and help your coworker clean up after that team lunch in the conference room. Or, step in and take on that task or project that nobody else is volunteering for.

While you don’t want to become a doormat or pushover, being a team player makes you that much more memorable. Plus, being kind to others boosts your own happiness and might even make you more likely to land a promotion

4. Tell stories

When you engage in conversations with the people you work with, what are you talking about? If you’re only politely chatting about the weather or how stuffy the office is, it’s probably time to step outside of your conversational comfort zone.

That’s because stories are memorable. In fact, people remember information that’s delivered as a story up to 22 times more than facts alone. 

Rest assured that it doesn’t need to be a dramatic thriller. Even an anecdote about a recent interaction with a client or a quick tale from your weekend can help people more easily recall who you are.  

Leave a positive and lasting impression

You’re growing tired of those awkward interactions with people you’ve met before (but have somehow forgotten you). And, you’ll admit that it stings that you can’t seem to stick in anyone’s brain.

The above tips can help. Put them into play, and you’ll become more memorable at work—and reap the benefits too.

Kat Boogaard
Kat is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer who focuses on careers, productivity, and self-development. She has written content for The Muse, Trello, Atlassian, QuickBooks, Toggl, Wrike, and more. When she's not at her desk, you'll find her spending time with her family—which includes two adorable sons and two rebellious rescue mutts.