Several years ago, I went to a networking event right near Washington, D.C.
Make sure your name tag is on the right side of your shirt/jacket and not on the left side.
(Apparently, it’s not possible for someone to be able to read your name tag when it’s 4 inches away on the left side of your shirt.)
After hearing this “secret for success,” I looked down and noticed that my name tag was on the left side of my jacket, as it always was when I attended an event that required name tags. However, I disregarded her meaningless advice and kept my name tag where it was.
Later in the event, I found myself next to this woman during a break. Before even introducing herself, she looked at me and said, “Did you not hear my tip about putting your name tag on the right side of your jacket?”
“I must have missed that,” I replied.
She then pulled out a full sales brochure for her company, and said, “Here is a brochure on my company in case you’d like to learn some other ways to be more professional.”
I reciprocated by handing her my business card. However, I apparently did not do that correctly either.
She then demonstrated the “proper” way to hand someone a business card and gave my card back to me so I could practice handing it to her again!
Wow… all this time I thought networking was about building relationships with people. Apparently, it’s all about the way you wear your name tag and how you hand someone your business card.
This “etiquette expert” is like a resume writer who obsesses over the size/type of font to use on your resume, as if using Times New Roman font 11 (not Times New Roman font 12!) is the secret to impressing people.
Guess what… this stuff does NOT matter.
To be clear, this is not permission to dress like a slob or to submit a resume riddled with grammatical errors. However, this “etiquette expert” was focused on trite ways to be professional.
Professional etiquette is not about name tags and business cards. Professional etiquette is about how you communicate and how you treat other people.
Are you focused on the person you are talking to, or are you scanning the room looking for other people to speak to? Are you genuinely interested in what other people have to say, or are you trying to jam your elevator pitch (or sales brochure) down their throat?
When you meet new people, just worry about taking a genuine interest in them first. When you do that, no one will care about how you wear your name tag. Most people don’t even know that “you are supposed to” wear your name tag on the right side of your shirt anyway.
Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students.