Is Your Online Name Tag Facing Outward?

nametag, personal brand onlineHere’s a quick blog post I’m writing from the HRO Today Forum, a twice-yearly high-level event in the United States for human resource professionals. Attendees are in Washington, D.C., this week at the Gaylord National Hotel, where this morning I was one of the judges on a panel for HRO Today magazine’s iTalent Competition. As we waited for the competition to begin, I chatted with fellow judge Jessica Miller-Merrell over coffee. Maybe it was the lack of caffeine, or maybe it was the jolt of the day’s first cup filled with that sweet, sweet elixir, but we stumbled into a discussion of the man. Sorry, I mean The Man, the man behind the curtain who supposedly keeps everyone down. And we concluded that The Man could be human resources, those big, mean gatekeepers who decide whether or not you get to work for a living. To learn more about our conversation and how The Man exacerbates workplace oppression, follow that link to read Jessica’s blog entry about it — because this blog post right here is not about The Man; it’s about your online name tag. Is it facing outward?

Name Tags on Swivels

When you go to a conference, you get a name tag, and one thing I’ve noticed is that sticker-based name tags don’t work well. Depending on your attire, finding a good place to stick a sticker-based name tag is a dilemma. And once affixed to your clothes, sticker-based name tags like to curl and peel off. That’s why name tags ensconced in plastic with a pin on the back to attach to your lapel are much better. But my favorite type of name tag is the kind connected to a strap that I wear around my neck. When I arrive at the registration booth for a conference and receive a name tag hanging on a strap, I’m happy to be there practically before I’m even there. And some conferences, like HRO Today Forum, take that type of name tag to the next level, attaching the tag itself to a swanky swivel. The name tag becomes something you can wear and leave alone — maybe even forget.

But here’s the thing: The design of the tag I’m wearing this week features moderately heavy card stock upon which displays my printed name and titles. And that design is causing the printed side of the tag to repeatedly swivel to a position facing my torso. Nobody can see my name unless I continually look down and turn the tag back around, to face the proper direction. Unless I pay close attention to even this very well designed piece of personal branding hard copy collateral, nobody knows who I am.

Your Name Online Turning Outward, not Inward

Now, imagine my conundrum as a metaphor representing the implications for your #CareerGravity. Your personal brand online, critical to your career development, is kind of like a name tag squared. It announces to the world who you are, but not just your name and job title. No, it’s much more than that. Even so, the way it needs to be just right makes it, in that way, just like a name tag. Just because your online personal brand may be elaborate, sophisticated and striking, you must never forget about it. Never leave it alone and assume that your targeted network will see it just because. Pay close attention to your online name tag. Every once in a while, you just might need to turn it around.