Personal Development

How to Make A Killer First Impression

Written by: Zanita Whittington

There’s dozens of areas in life where making a good and lasting first impression can set you on a good path with new connections. It can even help you make new friends easily! I’ve learnt alot about making good first impressions over the years because of my experience as a model, attending up to 30-40 castings a week, often only getting 2-3 minutes to get your energy across to someone. For me, it was really a learning process – and I’ve touched upon it in my blogposts in the past just discussing confidences and the importance of being true to yourself.

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Rock the energy.

This is pretty much the beginning and end of making a good impression – because if you master this, then all the other aspects just sort of fall into place. Sometimes I would have to attend castings when I was having a bad day and just generally feeling flat. On these days I would always take a moment outside the door, repeat a few positive affirmations in my head and if I was feeling really shitty, maybe clench all my muscles or run on the spot. Next I would bound into the room and give my best  “Hello how are you? I’m Zanita!” grinning like a bit of a fool. 9 times out of 10, I would get a smile and some good energy back – and then we could bounce off each other from there. I used to think talking about ‘energy’ was a little bohemian but it’s definitely something to consider when making connections. You bring the good vibes and you’re likely to get them right back.

Prepare some facts about yourself and some questions.

It can be just so awkward when you don’t know what to say. If you’re meeting someone new, have a few thoughtful questions in the bank – and some interesting facts about yourself ready – so you don’t end up discussing the weather or the traffic. Because I was modelling, I used to have a funny story about how I was related to Princess Anastasia and my family escaped Russia and I was named after a long lost royal relative… which got incredulous looks and a “Really?!?!” to which I would reply -‘Actually… No’ and segue into my ‘salt of the earth’ farming up bringing. It’s very cheesy to have an almost scripted story prepared, but for me it worked because I always got some laughs at the end and a more lasting impression. It was lucky I was meeting new people every week to tell my story to! I would take any chance I could to chat and find a common denominator because that’s the best way to get people to remember you. Seek that thing you have in common so you can have a thoughtful discussion – there’s always one! Some good questions.

What motivates you to work hard?

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

What’s your favourite outdoor activity?

If you could choose anyone alive or dead as your mentor, who would it be?

If you only have to listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?

What do you miss most about being a kid?

What is your dream holiday destination?

What is the nicest thing someone could say about you?

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You kinda need to segue before asking a totally random question so it helps have a bit of  an understanding of what your subjects are into… And then obviously if you’re applying these tips to a job interview – you really need to be prepared to ask questions about your future role! Being researched is key – knowledge gives you confidence.

 Know your body language.

Your body language so often can speak more truthfully than your words, so be aware of how you present yourself. A confident stance can suggest you’re more enthusiastic about being introduced to someone, while slouching can suggest low energy levels and low self esteem. People like feel important so if your body language is directed towards the person your speaking to it can suggest you value their time. Folding your arms, putting your hands in your pockets, fiddling with your hands or phone are all no no’s – it suggests discomfort and disinterest.

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Make eye contact.

Making eye contact suggests you’re on the level and comfortable with the person you’re speaking to. I find this one particularly challenging because I often overthink it and start to feel like i’m challenging someone to a staring contest, or start to feel intimidated… Practise makes perfect! I think being aware is really just the start and it starts to become more natural with time.

Be an active listener.

Being a great listener is an awesome way of complimenting someone without saying a word. Make sure you (at least) seem engaged in conversation by being focus on your subject entirely and making gestures of agreement – but be sincere!

Absolute sincerity!

The number one rule of making a great first impression is – always be genuine. While there’s all these tools you can use to endear people to you, if you’re executing them forcefully or unnaturally then it’s easy to detect something is off! Never under estimate the power of instinct. If you’re not being sincere then people can read it – and even if you think they can’t, it’s better be honest and comfortable with the message you’re getting across. Just be yourself! People are drawn to those who are comfortable in their own skin. Be confident that being yourself is always the right way. I used to think I had to make myself seem a little more ‘fancy’ than I truly was at castings because I thought that was what people were looking for – when I learn to relax and be my more genuine self (a little bit silly, very casual, always making jokes) then people responded to me so much better.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Learning to be confident and understanding how to make a good first impression when meeting new people has been a great help in my life and career – so I’ve loved sharing what I’ve learnt with you all. Would love to know about anything else you’d like me to write about!

Zanita x

Runway

Alice McCall

Written by: Zanita Whittington