That’s my best Jerry Seinfeld impression. I know, not very good but I couldn’t help myself.
Alright, so now on to name tags. I often wonder why professionals that rely on networking as part of their job feel the need to wear a name tag. I cannot tell you how many networking functions I have attended where I see people wearing their own personal name tags. Right off the bat let’s get a couple of things out of the way. First, I am not talking about a when people are wearing the sticky, Hello, my name is… name tags. Those are usually done at the request of the event coordinator (although, I avoid these too) nor am I talking about anyone that has to wear a name tag as part of their profession, i.e. folks in retail, banking, etc. Second, I also am not referring to identification badges that many companies now a days require their employees to wear. These badges usually have a photo on them and are used for access and security as much as they are used for identification. No, I am talking about cheap, plastic name tags that may or may not have a company logo on them but do have the person’s name that they wear at networking functions. What’s the deal?
Ok, so I’m sure by now I’ve already gotten some of you saying aloud, hey jackass, you wear a name tag so people know who you are and where you’re from. Yes, I get that. That is the primary reason to wear a name tag whether at a work or at a networking function. But, I challenge that by wearing a name tag you are enabling passive behavior. With your name and organization pinned to your chest there is no need to network or at least you can slack off on your networking. As people pass by they see your information and determine on their own if they want to talk with you. This becomes your passive safety net. Why be passive, especially when it comes to networking? That completely defeats the purpose of networking in the first place. Instead, I suggest if you truly are interested in networking that you leave the name tag at home and try introducing yourself to people. By not having a name tag you have no identity which is both good and bad. The good, is that no one can prejudge you just by your name or organization. They have to meet you to know who you are and what it is that you do. That forces you to become proactive and introduce yourself to engage with another professional. You sell yourself better than anyone else out there (at least that should be the case) and if you do it right, selling yourself becomes part of selling your organization’s product/services. That right there is reason enough not to wear a name tag. The bad of not wearing a name tag and having no identity is that no one knows you. That means you have to introduce yourself so people will know who you are and what you represent. Again, a good solution to a bad problem.
Now, before you go sending me hate mail and objecting to everything I am saying here, let me say as I often do, very few things are absolute. Wearing/not wearing a name tag certainly falls into this category. I am not saying in any sense that people should never wear name tags. In fact, I pointed out a few different scenarios above where it completely makes sense to do so. Further, in the situations that I am suggesting that you not wear them, they too could be looked at from a different perspective and an argument could be made that wearing a one would strengthen your position. It’s all debatable. The purpose of this post is to again, make you think about the process as a whole and weigh the pros and cons. Some would look at not having an upfront identity as a hindrance while others would see it as an advantage. The only real question is what do you think it is? I say it’s an advantage and I’ll take my chances any day introducing myself as opposed to my name tag doing it for me. You, on the other hand may feel different. Regardless, the moral of the story is name tags often make you passive and passive in most instances is not doing you any good. So stack the deck on your side so that you’re not passive. Ditch the name tag and get out there and introduce yourself when you network. I can guarantee it will have positive results for your personal and professional goals.
A Little Bit About My Blog:
I write about a vast array of topics related to marketing, public relations, business development and business management. Sometimes the topic is very focused and my blog addresses very specific challenges with specific answers. While other times my blogs take a wider view of a topic or theory and are intended to make the reader think on a macro-level as opposed to providing specific answers. It’s like the proverb says: “Feed a fish to a hungry person you’ve fed them for a day. Teach them to fish you feed them for life.” The goal is not to give you the answers but to help you solve the challenges of your business through critical thinking. Either way, I hope my blogs elicit a reaction, good or bad. If good, we can compare notes and share stories of success. If bad, we can have a good old fashion debate. May the best debater win.