What was your name again?One thing I find really hard to do is remembering names and faces and putting the two together. It gets really old having to stare at people's chests to read their nametags, particularly if you need to put on eyeglasses to do so. It's even more embarrassing if it's someone you're supposed to know--like your editor. I've erred on the side of caution and greeted complete strangers like the best friends I thought they were. I've stared blankly at people I know really well online but whom I haven't seen for a year. Or an hour. Apologies to you all.
A bit of science. There's a specific area of the brain for remembering faces, just as there are specific areas of the brain for reading and speaking and so on. Approximately two percent of the population suffers from prosopagnosia, which is a total inability to recognize faces. People with the condition cannot recognize anyone, not even close friends and relatives--the arrangement of features just doesn't compute, and it's mind-boggling to think how you can overcome such a condition. Major researchers of the conditiion from Harvard and University College, London, have a site, faceblind.org, where you can take a test. I took it, and to my surprise came out as average. The faces they show you are all sort of strange, asexual hairless creatures, rather like Voldemort but better looking.
About halfway through the test I suddenly realized that they all had different eyebrows; and rather later on, that some of them could be female. Duh. So possibly I'm better at it than I thought--because gender, after all, is a big clue (except at Nationals where it's nearly all women).
With practice, I think you can remember faces better but you do have to be able to also remember names; there's no area of the brain for that, it all comes down to memory and practice. One technique is to try and take a mental snapshot or two of the person's face and expressions, (not what they're wearing!) and , if you can, tie it into their name. There are hundreds of sources online on how to remember names, but most suggest you try and use the person's name three times in the opening conversation to batter it into your brain; or get them to repeat their name to you. Get their biz card and write something about them on the back (after your conversation, not during; they might think that's a bit weird).
This article at buildyourmemory.com suggests the use of mnemonics to link names to faces. For instance, try playing with the name--breaking it down into syllables and what the individual words thus created suggest to you. Say I introduce you to my alter ego Jane Lockwood. The syllables are lock and wood; you can visualize both of them. (And, uh, remember Jane writes erotic romance, so you don't necessarily have to think about trees.)
The other method using mnemonics is to try and build an association--a visual image--of the person's name and a physical characteristic, and I must admit that one has me baffled, particularly if the person has a lavishly-syllabled middle European name, for instance. But it may be worth a try. If the person's last name is Duck and they have a flattish, protuberant nose, you're in luck (just try to stop calling him Bill unless it's his name).
Here's a list of web articles that you might find useful on how to remember names and what to do if you don't. Remember that if you sweat over it, you'll make it worse. If you go in to a room full of people worried that you're not going to remember names and setting yourself up to fail, you're not going to have fun or learn or be at your best.