Networking and the name tag

I had a recent experience at a networking group I attend regularly, Twin Cities Thursday Happy Hours and I had a few people ask me what they should put on their name tag.

There are plenty of blogs out there on this topic, but I reached out to people I personally know who are experienced in this area and I asked for their opinions. Before I get to a few of the comments, I wanted to talk about the idea of networking and the name tag as well.

Part of the idea with networking is to break out of the comfort zone and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. This isn’t fun for some people and the idea might even make a persons stomach turn. Some might need a little bit of liquid courage to calm the nerves. I know I used to need something tasty to sip on, let alone something to hold in my hands so I wasn’t fidgety, so I say go ahead and order a drink.

A solid networking group will have a name tag table available and this is where the icebreaker begins before you even step into one of the scariest atmospheres a person could subject themselves to, if it’s entirely out of their element.

I know people who avoid networking groups because they just don’t know how to get started. Remember that a LOT of others are in the same boat as you. Some just hide it better than others.

It recently occurred to me that it’s really all about the name tag: your “first impression” before attempting to create a conversation.

Your name tag should be able to create at least a 10-minute dialogue; that’s 5 minutes for you and 5 minutes for the recipient and hopefully it will be a back and forth conversation. Being confident about the information you write on your name tag is also very important.

What I generally put on mine:
#socialmedia #communications #marketing
Works at Life Time”

The information you provide can change as much or as little as you want, depending on your focuses in your industry and whether or not you get a new job or even change positions at the company you work for.

1) If I create a great conversation with someone, my Twitter handle is readily available for them to search and add me. Rarely do people ask to add you on Facebook. Later on down the road, yes, this is more likely to occur.

2) LinkedIn should be where you add them next, or exchange business cards. Why LinkedIn? Not only can you put your resume online for others to see, but people can “recommend” you for the work you’ve done either for them, or your work ethic as a colleague. Those are available for the public to see, depending on the settings you have turned on or off. Also, it’s a place where you find/create business/revenue. My friend Neal Schaffer wrote a book on how to maximize your sales and social media using LinkedIn. I’ve heard great things about his book and I need to order my own because I feel like I’m missing out on a whole other level of social media and business.

3) Hashtags (#), mostly referred to as a “trending topics” on Twitter, are topics YOU should either have experience in, or at least have an idea as to what your ideal job/goals are. If someone asks you what you see yourself doing within the next two to three years with these goals, have an answer ready. I would normally make that number a solid “five,” but there’s much to learn within the first couple of years within my industry, so I’m not quick to jump too far into the future. That’s just personal preference. Let them know that, too! I think it shows confidence.

4) Do you volunteer your time doing anything you’re really proud of? I do with @ISMG_ which stands for Interactive South of the River Meet and Greet. This group meets typically the first Thursday of every month and anyone is welcome to attend. I founded it because it’s hard for some people to find the time to drive up to Minneapolis even just once a month to mingle with others and business are looking to hire in this area as well, not just north of the river. @ISMG_ is partnered with a non-profit, Windmill Animal Rescue and we’re in the beginning stages of raising funds for them.

5) If you have a job, it’s completely up to you as to whether or not you want to put it on your name tag. I do because for me, it ALWAYS strikes up a conversation. It’s also how I landed my first freelance gig at a hot brand spakin’ new pr and branding agency in Minneapolis. Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you the story.

What you should do within the next 48 hours of receiving a business card is email that person and mention a thing or two you talked about to help refresh their memory. Plus, if you’re like me and don’t have the correct contact information on yours, you will definitely want to follow up! Long story on that one. I know, I lose brownie points or “Klout”, if you will, for that one!!

Another big piece of advice is attend the event regularly, especially if you get a great vibe from not just the group, but the organizer. It is likely that that person knows a lot of people and keep in mind that the world gets smaller and smaller the more you get out and get involved within networking groups!

As for the recommended networking tips I mentioned earlier, I’ve met each person’s name listed. They’re great individuals who are heavily involved in networking. Enjoy!

“Best advice is to be memorable. Kinda applies to life. How will you stand out today?”
Mike Rynchek (CEO and President of *Spyder Trip Online Marketing)

“Be positive with everyone you meet.” – Jeff Nolan (Marketing Support Specialist at DDL and founder/organizer of Twin Cities Thursday Happy Hour)

“I try to live my life by the motto, “Leave people better than when you found them”. In other words, what can YOU do for THEM. Be sincere…and walk a path with other’s interests in mind. Incorporating this idea into your relationship building “strategy” will turn ‘habitual’ fans into ‘loyal’ fans.” – Jason Mitzo (co-founder of The Social 360)

*Spyder Trap Online Marketing is co-hosting an event with Twin Cities Thursday Happy Hour and Twin Cities Business Peer Network Group. RSVP here to meet local professionals in the area, sample beer and learn about the development of beer throughout history and enjoy a few appetizers Thursday, December 15 from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

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