Looking for a job can be difficult. Take advantage of networking events and recruitment events to meet potential employers. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1. Do some research. Find 5 or 6 companies that you would like to work for. When you go to a networking event or a job fair, you can find the companies that you are interested in and talk with them. It’s impossible to think you will be able to talk to everyone, better to go with a plan and target the ones you are serious about. If you have time then mingle and see what else interests you.

3. Tell your stories. And I don’t mean your life story. Prepare ahead of time 3-4 examples in your life when you solved a problem, or did an amazing thing. Turn this into a short story show casing yourself and your skills. Be sure and share how this experience made you a better person.

4. Ask questions. Don’t make the whole conversation about you. People like talking about themselves, leave an everlasting impression on them by focusing on them. Take this opportunity to find out the real culture of the company. How do they like working there, what is the most rewarding thing about working for xyz company?

5. Don’t be a stalker. There is a fine line you need to balance. You don’t want to outstay your welcome. You need to spend just enough time to get them interested but not so much that they are pushing you away. A few signs to look for, are they getting fidgety, are they looking at their watch, and did they make a move to shake your hand again? Be conscious of how much time you are taking up. Remember they want to meet a few people as well. Ask for their card, and let them know you would love to follow up and continue this conversation at a later date.

6. Write thank-you notes. Within 24 hours of the event, write a thank-you note to each person you met. Be sure to reference any specific points or connections you made during your conversations with them so they remember who you are. This will set you apart from the rest of the people. You can keep index cards or post it notes in your car, and quick write down some notes from meeting everyone. Then use these notes to create your thank you letter.

Networking events can be great opportunities to meet key players in your industry who can potentially help you get a job. Just remember to stay calm, and do your homework.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on April 2nd, 2015.