We are happy when we meet colleagues and collaborators with whom we have been conducting business over the phone. It is good to associate a face to the name. Isn't that one of the overly used phrase for such meetings? Once we have a name and the face together, how do we recall the association? Isn't this a challenge? There is no easy answer. But there is a simple way. Acknowledge you don't remember. As the second step, re-introduce yourself if the other party can't recollect or ask if you are at fault.
The other day, I went to meet one of my collaborators. We had met previously albeit briefly on two occasions. One was formal and the other informal. I had scheduled a meeting, serving as a placeholder to block his time. As always, I turned up early. The other party was happy to see me. He congratulated me on the two new assignments. One assignment was correct, which incidentally was also the reason for the meeting. The second one caught me by surprise. I was surprised as I was not aware of this new development. He was surprised that I was surprised. On hindsight, it should have set the alarm bells ringing.
After a fruitful discussion which did not last the whole of the time allocated for me, I was about to take leave. It is then the collaborator points to an email from me and asks if I know me. Philosophically, I could have argued I don't and am still trying to figure out me. As a business setting is not an ideal place for philosophizing, I decided to re-introduce myself. My collaborator had mistaken me for a colleague.
This incident is also a good lesson. No matter at what stage you are in your career, there is always something new to learn. Always ask if when in doubt. In this particular case, re-introduce yourself.