A simple paper name tag doesn’t often get the respect it deserves. Wearing one properly makes it easy for people to learn one another’s names and just as importantly, to remember them. At any gathering, they offer a sly little assist, helping us seem confident, thoughtful and engaged as we introduce ourselves to people we have never met or greet people we haven’t seen in a while.
A few etiquette tips will help you get the most out of wearing your name tag at your next networking function:
1. Stay on the right side. Contrary to popular practice among right-handed people who reach across their chests to place their name tags to the left, name tags are actually better placed on the right side. A simple way to remember this is “on the right to follow the line of sight.” Those glancing at your tag have a more natural line of vision to your eyes as they reach out to shake your extended right hand. This placement also helps to avoid the awkward glance to the left that signifies you have no idea who the other person is.
2. Make it easy to spot. The purpose of a name tag is to make it easy for others to see your name, therefore avoid placing your name tag on your pant leg, purse or dangling from the bottom of your shirt at your hip.
3. First name and last name. Always include your first and last name. Don’t include a title, which can actually inhibit interaction if you appear to rank above or below others on the corporate ladder. Your position will become clear in the course of conversation after you’ve connected with someone.
4. Make sure it’s legible. Your name tag won’t do any good if no one can read it. Print your name neatly and in large lettering to make it as easy as possible for others to read.
5. Go for the metal. If you’re purchasing your own name tag, opt for a lightweight metallic one instead of a cheap plastic version. If you don’t want to insert pins through the fabric of your clothing, there are clip-on and magnetic versions available.
6. Put it on. By all means, if name tags are provided at an event, use them. Don’t be a name tag snob. They really are there to make meeting and greeting others easier. Let them do their job.
7. Provide them to your guests. If you are hosting a mixer, lunch or other business event, provide easy-to-read name tags that are printed ahead of time. Be prepared with blank name tags, along with a dark marker, for guests who forgot to RSVP (gasp). As a good host, please avoid the lariat-style name tag where your guest’s name falls squarely between their breasts. These can make it difficult for a man to get a woman’s name correct when there is the fear and question of an inappropriate glance!
The bottom line is that name tags serve an important function – to reduce potential awkward moments and help you remember names gracefully.