Insightful takes on scaling your business

Why you should wear roller skates to your next networking event

It doesn't hurt to stand out

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

CEO and co-founder, TNWBoris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and (show all) Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.


Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter!

There’s a woman in my neighborhood who I’ve never seen on foot. She has roller skates, and wears them everywhere. She wears them when she drops her kids off to school, does her grocery shopping, and, I assume, also to work.

She definitely stands out, and it always puts a smile on my face, because why wouldn’t you always wear roller skates? They make getting around easy and fun. Why walk?

But recently I realized maybe she doesn’t always wear her roller skates, I just only recognize her with her roller skates on. Maybe when she wears normal shoes, she’s just not as distinctive and doesn’t stick out.

Now imagine going to a conference, and mingling with 20,000 attendees. Imagine most of them wearing grey sweaters and grey pants or skirts. How are you going to remember them?

I used to know a guy who would always wear the same funny little hat to any event or party he would go to. I could look at a sea of people, and recognize him at the back, 300 meters away from me. He stood out, and it was super easy to remember him. You don’t necessarily have to wear a funny hat, but it does help to stand out from the crowd, and think about how you want people to remember you.

And for when you have trouble remembering other people, here’s a little trick for recalling people’s names; you take their name and associate a color, event, or item to it. A man named Bill can be combined with “blue“: “Blue Bill.” A woman named Kelly becomes “Casual Kelly.” Boris could be “Boris the Beast,” if that helps you remember me.

A lot of people probably already subconsciously use this method to remember you, but you can help them out, like my friend with the hat. If you wear something distinctive it will help them tie your name to a visual clue. So for our conference feel free to wear your favorite colorful sweater. Or your favorite hat. Or your roller skates.

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Published February 17, 2020 — 13:00 UTC