The pressure is always high when you’re hosting a business networking event. Whether it’s a cocktail party for clients, an event to foster new business relationships, or a team building activity for your company, creating the right vibe and experience for attendees is a must. It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a large event or small, it’s the little details that make a big difference.
If the goal of your event is to connect people, then you need to give attendees name tags upon arrival. Sure, the ‘Hi My Name Is’ name tags are nostalgic. But handing your guest a magic marker to write their name on a sticker is not a welcoming first interaction. And it becomes less pleasant for your guests throughout your event as they repeatedly press the name tags against their shirts so they stick and don't fall off. But they always fall off and can be found stuck to the bottom of their shoes when they get home.
Providing high quality name tags at networking events is a little detail that makes a big difference. They are worth the extra money. When we host networking events for hospitality industry professionals, we invest in high quality name tags that stick to clothing using a magnet, instead of those with a pin. We’ve learned that people don’t always want to put a pin through their clothes and that using high quality magnetic name tags elevates the perceived quality of the event.
The presentation of the name tags matters too. It adds a nice touch if you lay them out by first name in alphabetical order on tables near the front door. Besides the guests’ first and last name, also list their company name if applicable, or their department if it’s a company event. People are curious creatures, so their first inclination is to look at the name tags to see who is attending. Your guests will be put at ease when they see name tags for people they know. They won’t feel like they’re attending an event with a bunch of strangers. Attendees will also see the names of people whom they’ve wanted to meet for business. If the name tags displayed on the tables include the names of high level and respected people within your industry or company, then your guests will feel proud to enter an exclusive event.
At networking events hosted by my organization, we give our Board Members name tags highlighted in a different color or have an icon on them, so they can be identified as such. The practice recognizes them as VIPs and empowers them to welcome and engage guests in an official capacity. Recognizing VIPs on name tags is a perk for special guests and is also a valuable benefit to offer event sponsors.
The area around the name tag pickup table is a great place to engage guests as they arrive at your event. You can introduce them to each other as they pick up their name tags. Then they can strike up a conversation as they enter the room together, instead of feeling the need to check email and social media, or rush to the bar to get a drink by themselves.
And since most people don’t have spotters by their side who will whisper the name of a potential investor in their ear as she approaches, name tags can be a savior too. Name tags help you save face when you have to introduce your new boss to an old associate whose name you’ve forgotten. If you have a photographer at your event the name tags will make is easier for them to identify key attendees from a pre-supplied shot list to snap photos of. They also allow hosts to greet each guest by their name, which goes a long way in developing relationships.
People sometimes wince at the concept of name tags because they think they make the atmosphere cheesy or they’ve found ‘Hi My Name Is’ stickers stuck to the bottom of their shoes. But guests at our events make positive comments about the magnetic name tags and they always want to take them home. That’s why we leave a basket at the exit of the event and encourage people to return their name tags before they leave. We tell them that recycling their name tag is good for the environment and they’re only placing it in storage until they’re a guest at our next event.
This article was first published by Andrew Rigie on Forbes