Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
On the other side of the door/phone/room is a man/woman/person you need to impress. More than impress them; you need to make an impact on them. They are the gatekeeper. They are the keymaster. They hold your future in their hands.
Problem is, you’re not very impressive. There’s nothing wrong with you: you’re pretty smart and pretty hard-working. You’re competent; maybe even talented. But if you were impressive you’d already be talking to them, and they’d already be impressed.

This is the simple part. Your strategy is to open the door/call them/walk over to them and do something cool/impressive/memorable. It has to be something that makes you stand out from the crowd; something that individuates you.
But that can go both ways. So while what you do definitely needs to shine a spotlight on you, it shouldn’t shine that light while you’re trying to put on your pants and get both feet stuck in the same pant leg.
Your strategy is to impress. To stand out, to be remarkable and then to intrigue. Because, when you ride off into the sunset, you want them thinking: “Who was that masked man?” (Yes, yes, they should know who you are so they can hire you, but you get the point, right…?)

Tactics are tougher than strategy. It’s one thing to know WHAT to do; HOW is another kettle of fish. And here there’s one over-arching principle to remember: MAKE THEM SMILE. Do something, be someone, have a trick up your sleeve.
Remember: Sob stories aren’t something we want to gather round ourselves. Charity cases are handled via debit order, in many cases. And beggars are often best kept on the other side of the car window. You need to make your gatekeeper happy.

So: Be upbeat and cheerful. Make the five minutes of their time that you’re taking up something they remember with a smile.
Be passionate. Passion is often more impressive than skill. We are inescapably drawn to passionate people.
Be honest. Don’t pretend you’re something you aren’t. They’ll find out eventually and then you’ll be trouble. Trouble’s no fun for anyone.
Be different (within reason). Whether you wear stripy socks or jump out of airplanes for fun there’s something about you that’s different. Use it to impress.

Some years ago, there was a large tender for a company to decorate the new offices of a major law firm. A top local interior design firm pitched for the job. On the morning of their pitch, before they even arrived at the interview, the design firm sent a small package and short message to the lawyer they were scheduled to meet with…
It contained a stylish pair of socks, and the message read: “You may need these later, because we’re going to knock your socks off.” Smile? Check. Stand out from the crowd? Check. Passion and confidence? Check. Got the job? Check.