The Art of Networking at Career Fairs

Career fairs can be a great way to get yourself out there professionally, and they can help you get a better feel for what a company could offer you as a potential employee. It’s important to present yourself professionally at a career fair, and making a positive first impression is essential to your success in your job search. Making sure you’re prepared for the career fair you plan to attend is crucial, and knowing what type of job you’re looking for at the fair will help to focus your networking efforts. Keep in mind these simple tips for presenting yourself professionally and effectively at your next career fair.

Pre-Fair Preparation

There is quite a bit of research you might want to do before you attend the career fair. Showing up at your career fair armed with knowledge about the companies that will be present should endear you to the representatives you’ll be talking to. HR representatives want to see that you’ve thoroughly researched their organization and any relevant company news. Make sure to get a list of all the organizations who will be represented at the fair, and research the companies you’re most interested in learning more about.

If this information is accessible to you, it can also be beneficial to find out about the company representatives who will be at the fair. Check their LinkedIn profiles for what you might share in common. For example: A representative might be an alum from your school or you might share a cause in common. If you can make these connections early, it helps to get the conversation flowing, and it can help you make yourself more memorable as a candidate.

Introductions

The way you introduce yourself is important because it conveys your focus and skillset to a potential employer. Always dress professionally, and bring at least 10 copies of your resume to pass around to representatives from the companies you’re interested in. It is also helpful to carry a portfolio with space for multiple business cards, as you will most likely collect several.

Be ready to answer appropriately when you’re asked to tell representatives about yourself. This can be considered a trick question because you need to use this opportunity to give a brief summary of your skills, educational background, and professional experience instead of telling personal anecdotes. Knowing what you want to do, and tailoring your introductory statement to reflect your focus should impress the people you’re speaking with. Establishing a meaningful connection through conversation about yourself and the company in question should be your top priority. Don’t be too casual; keep it professional.

Keep in Contact

Perhaps the most important part of the career fair is keeping in contact with the HR representatives you spoke with at the event. If you send thank you messages to the people you spoke to, it is more likely that they will consider you in the future. Reach out to them via LinkedIn by asking to be connected in a brief, personalized message that describes where you met them and your continued interest in the company they represent.

Once you’ve connected with them on LinkedIn, keep your new connections posted with monthly updates about your progress in school or with your job search. Always ask them about themselves and what they’ve up to as well. These updates are also a great place to showcase any memorable work you might have done or any accomplishments you might have had. Staying connected is necessary to keeping your network active.

Takeaways

A career fair can be a great resource in your professional development. It can help you build bridges to future employment at the companies of your choice by exposing you to people who can make hiring decisions. Be your best professional self by arriving prepared and by making as many connections as you’re able to. Now you’ve got what it takes to make a great first impression at your career fair. Stay tuned to Lionbridge onDemand’s blog for more professional insights.

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