By Phil Stella
One of the simplest tools in your Power Networking Tool Kit is the nametag you wear at networking events. Everyone uses them, but few people do so strategically to add to a positive first impression and enhance their networking processes. Really … I’m not making this up.
The purpose of your nametag is obvious and simple — it tells strangers your name and where you work. It also helps remind people who’ve met you before who you are. No-brainer stuff here, indeed.
What follows is a list of five best practices for your nametags. Read on … you might even find an “ah-ha” or two beyond reinforcing what you already know and do.
Make it large — If the organization sponsoring the event does it right, your nametag will be printed large enough for others to read it at a comfortable distance, like across the luncheon table. If you must make your own, print your name and employer large and clear. Remember that when networking with strangers, where you work is usually more important than who you are initially.
Make your own — If the organization does a poor job or the type is too small, make your own. They always have blanks and markers available for walk-ins or for mistakes. Better to have a hand-written one that people can easily see than a printed one they can’t.
Some people prefer a permanent professionally made nametag. That’s fine as long as the type is thick and large enough to be easily seen from a short distance. If you can easily read it from six feet away, so can someone else.
Wear it right — With stick-on or pin/clip-on versions, you have two basic choices – wearing it on your right side or your left side. Since 92 percent of the adult U.S. population is right-handed, the convenient tendency is to put in on your left side with your right hand.
However, the better practice is to put it high on your right side instead, even if it is a bit awkward to do. That positions it in the other person’s direct line of site from the handshake to your face. Simply put, it’s more stranger friendly.
Lose the lanyard — You’ve all seen those name tags that attach to a lanyard with some company’s name on them. The organization probably sold that branding idea to cover the cost of the nametags and add some revenue as well. Good for them. Bad for us.
You’ve all seen the result. The nametag usually turns around on the lanyard. So what do you do? Gently try to turn it around so you can read it without actually touching the other person body? I don’t think so. How about asking the other person to turn it around? That might work but could make both of you uncomfortable. Typically, if you’re all seated at the table for lunch or dinner, the nametags hang down below the level of the table so you can’t read them at all.
So, how do you avoid these clumsy situations? Easy, with a little thought and effort. If the nametag has a clip or pin back, ditch the lanyard as soon as you arrive and pin/clip the tag high on the right, as described above. If it doesn’t, then gently knot the lanyard in the back so the tag moves up closer to your face. Problem solved … eh?
Don’t put it where you don’t want people to look — One final rant aimed at women. When you let the nametag hang on the lanyard, what part of your body does it usual rest on? And when guys keep gazing at it to try to remember your name, why do you tell them that your “eyes are up here?” Yes they are, but your nametag is down there and you’re telling us to look there to find out who you are. So … don’t put it where you don’t want people to look.
Let’s hope this newest rant helps you use maximize the positive impact of your nametag so you can network like a pro … with more power and success!
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication and is a popular speaker on networking and workplace communications. He is also on the Cleveland faculty at the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356, email@example.com or http://communicate-confidently.com.