Job fairs are only as effective as the skills you have to take advantage of them.
This has been my observation after working as an associate for Diversity Career Group, producers of recruitment events that help professionals from disciplines such as Sales, Management, Retail, Banking and Finance successfully find candidates.
Being the liaison between the employer and the prospective employee at these events provided me with some inside knowledge and keen insights that can help you make the most of job fairs.
1.) BE OPEN-MINDED
If you are attending a job fair it is presumably because you need a job - whether you are unemployed or want employment in a new field. In both scenarios we dealt with countless individuals who couldn't overcome this one mental barrier to transform themselves from job seeker to job candidate. An open mind shifts the focus from you (what you see yourself doing) to your qualifications (what you are capable of doing) and makes you receptive to the abundance of opportunities and possibilities that are placed at your disposal.
2.) BE PREPARED
Your preparation is dual process: preparing yourself with the tools (resumes/business cards/proper attire) to effectively market yourself, and doing introspection to confirm what you ultimately want and how the job fair can be a facilitator in helping you get it . You will get it - if you understand that you must help the prospective employer get what they want first. Be prepared to link your qualifications to their needs by understanding the problems their services and products solve. This should be the focal point of your brief interview.
This is where you close the deal. Send a thank you email to remind them of who you are and confirm your interest and enthusiasm that same day. After conducting hundreds of job fairs I can say with certainty that most companies will not remember details about you, but if you are qualified and enthusiastic it's much more likely. Following-up indicates that you are willing to go the extra mile. It also communicates your desire and appreciation of the opportunity presented...every company that participated in our job fairs wanted someone who was willing to go the extra mile.