With some experience under my belt, here's how I made the most of connecting with brands and employers:
At the Fair:Dress your best - Hopefully this goes without saying, but plan ahead for any career fairs you want to attend. I can't tell you how many people I saw pop in to talk to employers and were dressed in casual school clothes. First impressions make or break your job fair experience - make it count and show up in finest profesh threads.
Go with a plan - Most job fairs place their employer list online prior to the event, use it to your advantage! Go with a plan of who you want to meet, research them and go see them first - chances are you'll leave the employers refreshed with your preparedness. More than anything, ask questions - be genuinely interested in what employers have to say!
Roll with the punches - Don't stress the small stuff. I know better than most the desire for everything to go according to plan, small bumps can really throw you for a loop if you let them. The fair I attended had a fire alarm interrupt it TWICE, but I used that opportunity to walk out with the employers and have some one-on-one time. Don't get me wrong, the raining humidity outside had me sweating out of my blouse, but the employers and I joked about it and kept going. You can't control everything, so just go with the flow and make the most of the opportunity.
Stock up - Don't end up empty-handed, print plenty of copies of your resume and business cards.
Pitch it - Practice your elevator introduction, it will make all the difference when you are around so many other people with the same mission. Be clear about what you want and what you have to offer. Everyone loves efficiency, but don't forget to let organic conversation flow after your introduction.
Next steps:Add on LinkedIn - I know this is a touchy subject, but if your fair is anything like mine, many of the representative employers will be human resources recruiters. If you're genuinely interested in working for a company and have a meaningful conversation with the recruiter, add them on LinkedIn. They'll know you took their company and your conversation seriously and are looking to build a relationship.
Apply - If an application position in a specific company is open - apply for it! If you're required to submit a cover letter, mention the job fair and who you talked to. They might be the ones looking at applications or they can be an internal witness about how you are in a professional environment!
Follow up - If you're the boss I know you are, you most definitely got their contact information! Follow up with an email or a thank you letter - include what you learned and where you see your place within the company, even if there aren't any open positions. Your contact might have some information to get your foot in the door!
Any tips or best practices I missed? Leave me a comment or tweet me at @PRGirlPaige!