What's in a Name... Tag?

Education & Training

Name Tag on a Suit

Last Friday I went to a meeting put on by a local sales training company.  Because I am in a business development role with Stewart Title, I like to occasionally attend such meetings both to: 1) network with commercial real estate brokers, who also tend to frequent these events; and 2) pick up some pointers I can use when I meet with prospective clients.

Like all of the men in attendance, I wore a suit.  When I checked in I was given a pre-printed name tag with a little alligator clip.  So, I attached the clip to my suit's left breast pocket (Like almost all suits, none of mine has a "right" pocket).  No sooner had I walked into the meeting room than one of the sales trainers admonished me for not having my name tag on the right side.  He told me that because people greet by shaking right hands, their line-of-sight is also drawn to the right, meaning that my left-sided name tag wouldn't get the best exposure.

I thanked him for the tip and sat down.  I didn't adjust my tag, though, because of the aforementioned lack of a right pocket.  I didn't want to clip it to my lapel because it would have been crooked, hard-to-read and flopping into my tie.  Unfortunately, I was chastised again before the meeting started.  The trainer seemed taken aback that I had not adjusted my tag.  The implication was that no one would know my name!

During the meeting, he brought the subject up again to the entire group.  Most of the men, apparently giving in to peer pressure, moved their tags.  Their tags were now in the correct line-of-sight for a handshake.  Yet, they were sideways, diagonal and even upside-down because no one else had a right pocket either.  I was bemused!

What I took from the incident was that good advice, if not able to be practically applied, becomes bad advice.  It is important for prospects to remember your name in order to set yourself apart from the competition.  But all that prospects will remember if they have to tilt their heads to read your name is that you refuse to take advantage of the pocket on the left side of your suit.  Any future sales tactics I learn may not have such obvious drawbacks.  But, I am still going to make sure they pass the "common sense" test before I adopt them.

Incidentally, today I decided to conduct an informal experiment.  I attended a combination marketing seminar/networking event at lunchtime.  There were about 40 people in attendance.  We were given stick-on name tags (the kind you write on with a Sharpie and peel from a sheet ).  During the meeting, I did my best to count how many people wore their name tags on either the right or left side.  It ended up being 50/50 (including me- Since I wore a sweater today, I put my tag on the right side).  There was actually a representative from the sales training company there today, too, so I mentioned what the trainer from last week had told me about name-tags.  The rep chuckled, thought for a moment, and said, "Right, left... Oh, it doesn't matter!"  :)

Comments (20)

Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Some advice should not be taken. Period.

I remember when I started my real estate career and attended one of similar seminars, I was crucified for being dressed nicely and having make up and bright hair( not in a pony tail). Trainer did not mentioned my name and even did not look at me, but I knew he was referring to me. He said: you are there 'to serve! no make up, no custom clothes, no jewelry!''.

For years, I was dressing plan, no make up to my open house and meetings. I felt like sh...t. One day I finally realized that being comfortable with who you are is more important than anything else or anyone's opinion.

People will not remember your tag side, but you!

Jan 30, 2013 05:02 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Andrew - I'm thinking that that was just that trainers personal preference.  

Jan 30, 2013 05:11 AM
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Broker/Owner
Travis Realty - Enterprise, AL
email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846

My previous Broker, a retired Army First Sergeant, told....informed me of the "right side reason". It makes sense, IF feasible.

Jan 30, 2013 05:14 AM
Rob D. Shepherd
RETIRED - Florence, OR

I don't wear a suit, hate to think where that wuoud put me with this guy.

Jan 30, 2013 05:19 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Inna: I try to be open to advice, but I agree with you- thanks for the comment!  :)

Jim: It's possible, although I don't think he's alone in that regard.  :)

Travis: Agreed- IF feasible!  It definitely works better with the stick-on tags, not the clips!  :)

Rob: I don't know- It would be tough to use an alligator clip tag without a pocket!  :)

Jan 30, 2013 06:05 AM
Dave Sullivan
Real Estate One - Birmingham, MI
Michigan Realtor with an investor viewpoint

Yes that was taught by the Sandlers sales system to me about 20 years ago... I always do it,  but about a year ago I started sticking them to my forehead and it has really worked a lot better...  I get plenty of attention and they all know my name but no one wants to talk to me??   not sure why. :)

Jan 30, 2013 06:20 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Dave: Ha!  Some of the people at the Friday meeting whose name tags became upside-down did mention they could be a good conversation-starter.  :)

Jan 30, 2013 06:22 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Give me a break....that is just plain stupid unless it's one of those sticky name tags.  And also consider that a lot of those name tags are really challenging for us ladies to attach on the 'correct' side depending on the fabic etc.  Having an open mind and being creative are good qualities.....and did I mention flexability works as well:)

Jan 30, 2013 06:50 AM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Lots of great advice in your post that should be followed by all of us. I learned a few of these lessons a long time ago and never forgot them. You added to my list.

Jan 30, 2013 09:16 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Anna: Thanks- I agree, he was a bit of a stickler on the name tags!  :)

Joe: Thank you so much for the kind words!  :)

Jan 30, 2013 09:31 AM
Kathy Sheehan
Bay Equity, LLC 770-634-4021 - Atlanta, GA
Senior Loan Officer

I have worn my name badge on the right side for years for the exact reason you mentioned, however, i have opted for a magnetic backing on it so it doesn't matter what I am wearing....

Jan 30, 2013 10:11 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Kathy: Those magnetic name tags are great!  I have a Stewart one, but I don't like to wear it if it's too different from what everyone else has at an event, or others may not know I'm a fellow attendee.  :)

Jan 30, 2013 11:04 AM
Nancy Laswick
United Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun

Hi Andrew, I use a magnetic name tag from Realty ONE Group when appropriate but I had another one made with just my name on it. It cost $8 looks great and I don't have to use the badges with safety pins or the sticky notes type that you use a magic marker on. I spilled water on a sticky note badge once and it bleed onto a $60 silk blouse. I wore it to a wine tasting recently and got more comments on the badge than my new blazer ;-(

Oh, just for the record I'm a right side girl. :-)

Jan 30, 2013 02:12 PM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Nancy: Another proponent both for magnetic tags and the right side- You are on top of your game!  :)

Jan 30, 2013 08:33 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

I was told that about 20 years ago, Andrew. I usually wear on the left but when the outfit doesn't work right, then I shift to the right. I have found over the years that it really makes no difference that I can fathom. Now upside down....that gets a lot of notice.

Jan 30, 2013 10:24 PM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Toni: I think that's the approach: right if it works, left if it doesn't, but it probably doesn't matter too much... except upside down!  :)

Jan 31, 2013 08:45 PM
Elizabeth Jolliffe

Thanks for generating this discussion, Andrew.  Although I am a proponent for the right side, feasibility rules the day.  A word of advice for men, though.  Most of the time when you put your name tag on your breast pocket, it is too low for me to easily and unobtrusively read or glance at again.  And generally most customized name tags, although wonderfully handy because of the magnet, are impossible to read because of the font size, background color, amount of information, etc.

Feb 01, 2013 12:55 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Elizabeth: Those are great points- Thank you for the feedback!  :)

Feb 03, 2013 10:39 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Andrew, You're obviously a leader rather than a follower - a great characteristic for a business owner. I always tend to think a little differently than everybody else also. When I was young, I saw it as a great burden and tried mightily to blend in. These days, I'm ok with it.

Feb 05, 2013 01:40 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Jill: Thank you for the kind words!  I think younger people in general are more concerned with conformity.  I know I was the same way- Maybe feeling more comfortable with standing out is one of the advantages of getting older!  :)

Feb 05, 2013 01:44 AM