Tag, You’re It!

If you could describe yourself with a collection of words, what would they be? Would they describe your appearance? Your job? Your dreams?

If you compared your word collection to your family’s and friends’, how many words would you have in common? Would any of your words surprise them?

Anyone who’s used a site like Flickr is familiar with the concept of tagging, or describing a photo (or blog post or other piece of online content) using a series of words. But Jeff Pulver’s Social Media Breakfast last week was the first time I’d thought about tagging myself.

Jeff has created what he calls a “personal networking toolkit”: two name tag stickers, and a sheet of small labels. One one name tag you write your name, and your personal tagline. The other is left blank; the goal of the event is to strike up a conversation with someone else so they can write a word on one of the small labels and tag you.

It’s one of the best ways I’ve ever seen to facilitate the dreaded networking between the people who are pros at it — who positively thrive on talking to new people — and the rest of us who, well, don’t.

Now it’s no longer about doing something intimidating, because you have a goal. You’re trying to find out something about them so you can tag them, and you’re looking for people who have tags that are interesting to you. Suddenly it’s a game, a scavenger hunt. Guess what: games are fun.

And at the risk of veering into self-help territory, you also learn some fascinating things about yourself. Through their tags, you can see how others perceive you.

For example, I’m: mom, flexible, Webby winner (well, CDG gets the credit for that!), smart blogger, original DC Webgrrl, market queen. Oh, and “shiney.” (Still not sure what that one means, but I think I like it.)

But beyond using it as an ice-breaker at a networking event, the idea of tagging not just things online, but people or ideas is a fascinating one. Like any good brainstorming exercise, it can pry open insights you might not otherwise see.

So I return to my original question: What are your tags?

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