Friday, November 14, 2014

unCon 2014 Post: Stinkin’ Badges and Personal Branding at the MassTLC UnConference

By Patrick Rafter, Valuecasters


“Badges?! We don’ need no stinkin’ badges!!”


Having been to all seven @MassTLC UnConferences, I can say that the badges at this year’s event were the best yet.

One brilliant innovation: Print name and company on both sides of the badge so that when the lanyard turns around, others can still see your name.  Dohh!

On their arrival at the 2014 @MassTLC #UNCONF, the more than 700 registrants retrieved their name badges and lanyards and then noticed a table with stacks of button like stickers to be affixed to our name tags with descriptors of who we are:

The stickers were:
  • Investor
  • Mobile
  • Robotics
  • Designer
  • Beer Hound
  • Marketing Guru
  • Developer
  • Active Lifestyle



Certainly this is a good selection of descriptors that summarize individuals’ job function or interests for a lot of those present, but… without going “sticker mad” here are some suggestions I heard today from attendees of stickers that would have described themselves:
  • Sales
  • Entrepreneur
  • Renaissance Woman
  • Sustainability Innovator
  • Problem Solver
  • Wine aficionado
  • Luddite


If you had to distill your essence into a single phrase, what would it be?

If you’re at a loss about communicating your personal brand, you might want to take some tips from Dan Schwabel, Bentley alum and author of two definitive books: “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success” and “Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future.”

Some of the people I spoke with today suggested that rather than wearing a label that said who they are, it could be useful to have name tags that succinctly displayed what they personally wanted to get out of the unConference: 
  • “Looking for money” and their opposite counterpart VCs “Looking to invest”
  • “Looking for Job” and “Hiring talent”


With color coded dots… job seekers could see prospective employers at a glance across the room…

One of the consistent themes of MassTLC and the unConference has been bringing people together who might otherwise never connect. This year continues that tradition.

Who knows what will come next? 

Perhaps MassTLC could follow the example of Newton, MA based Booster.com --- the website that lets people design and sell custom t-shirts in thru online fundraisers to benefit the causes they care about. While those shirts raise thousands of dollars, they also function as “walking billboards” to raise awareness about their cause.


What ideas DO YOU HAVE to improve how people effectively and efficiently connect at these sorts of events?

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