10 Ways to Make The Most out of a Career Fair or Networking Event

10 Ways to Make The Most out of a Career Fair or Networking Event

It’s that time of year!

Graduation dates are creeping closer. There is a fierce hunt for summer internships and jobs. The changing season brings about in a huge wave of networking opportunities. Don’t let this time of year intimidate or overwhelm you. All you really need is a little preparation. Let’s start by asking why

Why even go to a career fair or networking event?

Career fairs and networking events are NOT just about trying to get a job. They are amazing opportunities to meet new people, discover awesome companies, and practice presenting your best self.

*If you are a student in college, we highly encourage you to drop by your career center after class to find out when your school’s next career fair is. Then, follow the steps below to make sure you get the most out of it.

 Subscribe on iTunes | Download this episode

# 1: Know The Necessities.

As you leave the house, it is always the question that pops into your mind- Do I have everything I need? So… what are you supposed to bring with you to one of these events? Here is a quick checklist of what to bring with you to avoid last minute stress. Make sure you have:

  • Multiple copies of your perfectly polished resume.
  • A few of your favorite pens.
  • Notebook/Career Journal to write down notes or ideas in passing 
  • Business cards that represent you and your personal brand
  • A professional portfolio to hold your necessities.
  • Optional Interview Portfolio. (You will probably not have the time speak to anyone extensively about your past success and work, but in case you do, you might want bring it along! It might also make you feel more confident holding your memories with you
    • Use free printouts from your library (school or community)!

# 2: Plan what to wear ahead of time.

We spell appearance with 3 P’s- APPPEARANCE! They stand for being poised, polished, and presentable. You want to make sure you look and feel professional and confident. Employers expect you to come dressed professionally. Dress for the job two steps ahead of the one you want now! Also take into consideration that you will probably be walking a lot, so we recommend comfortable shoes! Need help? The College Juice has got you covered.

Don’t have something? Ask your power posse!  If you don’t have anyone to give you feedback on what you want to wear to your upcoming interview… Send us a selfie to @whymillennialsmatter on Instagram and #Passion2Action so we can help you!

#3 Harness good energy to make a powerful presence. 

Career fairs are not the time to be shy. As you approach a new employer or recruiter, show that you are enthusiastic and excited to share yourself with them. Believe it or not, not there there are hundreds of very important qualities about you that could get you hired that are not listed on your resume; those being your personality, the energy you bring, and your ability to communicate and connect with others. Your resume is a piece of paper that lists your bullet point accomplishments. It is who you are as a person that really counts.

#4: Do your research

What companies are coming to the career fair that interest you? Take notes! Choose from 5-10 favorite companies, and find out more about the people that work there. Use LinkedIn to find people you admire and Study The Stars

#5: Make a game plan. 

Find out where your favorite companies be setting up their booth at the fair. Create a specific strategy to maximize your time. If a particular company does not interest you at all, don’t spend too much time with those recruiters. On the other hand, don’t skip over a company because you aren’t familiar with them. Discover as many companies as possible online before the fair because you never know what culture, opportunity, or pathway will be the best for you!  Decide your route, and communicate with your friends if you want to buddy up and meet up at particular stations for a quick confidence boost.

#6: Master your Mini Elevator Pitch.

Chances are you won’t have time to share everything about you when you meet with a recruiter, so take the time to practice before you go. We encourage you to condense it down to 1 minutes or less and answer these key questions:

  1. Describe your mission?
  2. What are your passions?
  3. What are your career interests?
  4. What are your hobbies?
  5. What do you want to be remembered for? What is your legacy?

Crafting a strong elevator pitch is not an easy feat. Take personal time to reflect and practice with your friends! See what others have done: Take the #elevatorpitchselfie Challenge on Instagram! Be prepared to speak to your work experiences, skills, and abilities. Come up with 3-5 stories that you can share that prove your skills! If you need more assistance creating your pitch, click here!

#7: Be confident!

Remember all the keys to successful interviewing, including a firm handshake, a warm smile, eye contact, and a strong voice. Don’t use filler words such as “um”, “like”, “you know.” More information on how to exude confidence is on our Executive Presence blog and podcast episode.

#8 Be curious.

There is nothing recruiters like more than a young professional genuinely interested about their company. Before your go, take notes about the companies that will be attending the fair. What interests you about those companies and why? Write down your questions and be prepared to ask them! While speaking with a recruiter or representative, you want to actively engage in the conversation- ask questions, nod, make eye contact. Make them feel assured that you are listening closely to what they have to say. They need to know from your conversation that you are not desperate for any job, but passionate about getting a specific position at their company. Be curious. Ask with passion.

#9: Connect with those around you.

Don’t talk only to the employers at the job fair; talk to your peers and other job-seekers too! Ask what they’re looking for and what their impressions have been so far of the companies. You may just get valuable information about an opening they heard about, or a recruiter to avoid, or a recruiter you definitely should talk to. Be in the know. You never know who you will meet and where that might lead you!

#10: Follow Up.  

When you go back home after the career fair, the second part of networking begins: Following Up! If there was someone you met or a company that impressed you, reach out to them and thank them for speaking with you! To make this process easier, make sure you take notes on the companies you visited, who you spoke to (first and last name is best!), and what you spoke about during the fair. Anyone you meet at the fair could possibly cross paths with you in the future! The world is smaller than you think.

You can follow up and reconnect on a multiple or ways. Use LinkedIn to connect and take time to write a personalized message. Use email to send a succinct message with your resume attached and a professional email signature. If you are able to get a company address, you could even send a handwritten thank you card to stand out from the crowd!


In closing…

10 Ways to Get The Most Out of A Career Fair or Networking Event:

  1. Know the necessities.  

  2. Plan what to wear ahead of time.

  3. Harness good energy to make a powerful presence.

  4. Do your research.

  5. Make a game plan.

  6. Master your Mini Elevator Pitch.

  7. Be confident!

  8. Be curious.

  9. Connect with those around you.

  10. Follow up.


We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Send your thoughts or ask us questions using #Passion2Action to Joan Kuhl at @JoanKuhl or you can email us at YourCareerAdvice@gmail.com. We hope that our advice today ignites your passion into action.


Read more #Passion2Action on The College Juice!