Job fairs are an opportunity for companies to meet and screen a large number of potential job candidates. But for you, the potential job candidate, they offer access to multiple job opportunities all in one place. This cuts down on travelling while providing an excellent opportunity to network with recruiters as well as with other job-seekers.

When you head out to your next job fair, here are six tips to keep you focused so that at the end of the day, you can leave with a few leads, quality information and many new contacts.

  1. Get Organized the Day Before. Choose your outfit — which for most career fairs means dressing as you would for an interview — and make multiple copies of your resume to bring with you. Also have a pad of paper and a pen to take any notes and, if your line of work requires it, an updated portfolio of your work. Taking the time to prepare the day before helps reduce your stress on the day of the job fair.
  2. Have a Clear Career Focus. One of the first questions every recruiter will ask is “why are you here?” Have a well-thought out response ahead of time.
  3. Practice Your Elevator Pitch. An elevator pitch is a brief, 30-second statement that breaks the ice between you and the person you’re speaking with. It’s a high-level overview of who you are and what makes you valuable to a business. It needs to be short, simple and precise so practice, practice, practice.
  4. Do Your Research. Find out which companies will be attending the job fair (sometimes you need to pre-register in order to access this information) and research the companies that interest you. Visit their websites, review their values, missions and goals and get a high-level understanding of what they do. This will help you have a more educated conversation with each recruiter when the time comes.
  5. Plan a Fair Strategy. You are not likely going to be able to visit every recruiter at a job fair. Your best approach is to create a priority list. The companies that you believe would be a good fit for you and that you have the most interest in are the ones you should visit first. Then work your way down the list.
  6. Make a Good First Impression. Wait patiently in line, greet the recruiter with a warm smile and firm handshake and give your elevator pitch. Before you move on, always thank the recruiter for taking the time to speak with you and get their business card. Having the recruiter’s contact information allows you to follow.

Once you leave the job fair, your work isn’t over yet. Follow up by email with each recruiter you spoke with to thank them again for taking the time to speak with you. Keep each email short, but specific to the conversation. This helps keep the recruiter’s impression of you sharp in his or her mind and increases your chances of receiving a follow up phone call.