From the desk of the Lt. Governor:
Walking into a Ruritan Club Meeting House, my eyes quickly sweep across the room, looking for someone, anyone, wearing a name tag. Why? Because that name tag is a welcoming beacon that says “I’m friendly. I am approachable. Come talk to me!”
When I don’t see anyone in the room wearing a name tag, my heart sinks. I’m one of “those people” that has a really hard time remembering other people’s names. I know how important it is to remember everyone’s names, and I struggle with that issue. People that can meet someone one time for just a moment or two, and remember their name forever simply amaze me! I simply don’t have that gift! Hopefully that doesn’t make me a bad Ruritan – I’d like to think that I still have a lot to offer Ruritan!
All of those memory enhancement techniques that are taught by memory experts help, but when meeting several people at once, the names go in one ear and fall out the other. Hope springs eternal, and I keep on trying, but I love to see other people wearing name tags because then I don’t spend precious time apologizing for the fact that I will probably forget their name shortly after meeting them.
But enough about me.
When a potential new member, or a scheduled speaker, walks through that same Ruritan Club Meeting House door at a meeting, they are immediately at a social disadvantage. One that could make them very uncomfortable. (Maybe they have issues with remembering names, just like I do!)
When a person is in a group of people where everyone else knows everyone’s name, he or she may feel vulnerable. Very few people are comfortable in a crowd when they are the only “stranger.”
In some cases, the visitor may get the impression that the other people in the group don’t even care enough to make newcomers comfortable in the group. That is one of those “first impressions” that our clubs may not want to be making.
Wearing a name tag increases the potential for better fellowship experiences for visitors. If everyone in the club were to wear their Ruritan name badges, the visitor (whether it is a potential new member, a speaker, or a visiting officer from District or National) will feel more comfortable being in the group. This level of comfort may help the potential new member decide to join the club, and it also may help improve the quality of the time of the speaker, or visiting officer. Quoting Martha Stewart, “and that’s a good thing.”
Our membership and fellowship committees can help ease the initial level of discomfort of being “the stranger in a crowd” by ensuring that the visitor gets a name tag, and that everyone in the room has a name tag. Even if it is just a temporary, sticky-backed paper name tag that says “Hello, my name is ____________.”
That name tag helps to level out the playing field, so everyone can see, at a glance, the name of everyone else. A member of the Fellowship Committee should greet everyone as they come through the door, and provide a name tag to anyone that does not have one.
If the person walking through the door is a new visitor, then the member that greeted the visitor should also ensure that the visitor is introduced to another member, who then becomes the visitor’s companion through-out the entire meeting. This is standard procedure for all clubs that are looking to recruit new members, and is pretty well documented in the Ruritan Handbooks and Guides.
If the club is fortunate enough to have a supply cabinet in the meeting location, the sticky-back name tags and assorted markers could be stored on-site, and brought out as people arrive to the meeting. If the club does not have that storage option, then the membership and fellowship chairs could bring them to the meetings. Alternately, each club officer could keep them in their briefcases/totes that they bring to the meetings.
These items are some of the least expensive tools a club can use to welcome visitors that have taken the time and made the effort to step through that door to see for themselves what that Ruritan club is all about. Making that visitor feel comfortable, by providing name tags is a good first step towards recruiting new members.
Not convinced? Recently I was reading a great blog article about good reasons to wear name tags. I’d like to encourage you to consider reading it as well. The article just might help convince you to start wearing your name tag more often – and not just to Ruritan functions!
I’d like to encourage ALL Ruritan Club members to wear their name badges to all Ruritan Club functions. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a lot to gain by wearing them.