Are you hunting for a job? Career fairs are your one-stop shop for connecting with recruiters and networking with fellow candidates. However, navigating these bustling events can be challenging, and standing out among a sea of other job seekers is no easy feat.

Rather than diving in unprepared, use the following five tips to maximize your chances of success at your next career fair.

1. Do your homework

First, look at the list of attending employers on the fair’s website and note the ones that interest you most. If there’s a map (you may need to pre-register to access this and other resources), print it out and mark the booths you need to visit. To help set priorities and plan your day, distinguish “must-visit” from “nice-to-visit” companies.

Next, delve into your target employers’ websites to familiarize yourself with their mission, customer base and leadership team, just as you would for a job interview. Are they advertising any positions that appeal to you? If so, write down the details so you can ask a recruiter for more information on the day of the fair. “I’d like to talk about your payroll clerk opportunity” is a much stronger pitch than “Do you have any job openings right now”?

Pro-tip: Neatly record your research in an old-fashioned notebook rather than on a smartphone or tablet. Handwritten notes are easier to refer to in the heat of a conversation, and they show that you took your preparation seriously. (Also, their batteries never die.)

2. Dress for success

While a professional appearance is crucial, you’ll also need to prioritize comfort as you’ll be on your feet for an extended period.

Go for comfortable footwear and breathable, flexible fabrics. Stick to business or business casual attire, such as slacks, jackets, blouses, button-down shirts, ties, dresses and skirts. Incorporating patterns or a standout accessory is acceptable, but avoid going overboard.

3. Bring customized resumes

To stand out at a career fair, you’ll need to bring some well-crafted resumes, with emphasis on the plural, meaning you should tailor each resume for a company you’re interested in, highlighting the skills and experiences relevant to each one.

Remember, first impressions matter. You don’t want to be handing a recruiter a crumpled resume or rummaging through your bag, searching for the correct document in front of them. So take some time to organize your folder so that your resumes and other materials are within reach.

When talking to recruiters, focus on engaging in a genuine conversation and expressing your interest in their company. Resist the urge to hand over your resume immediately, as it can give the impression that you’re in a hurry. Instead, wait for a natural moment during the discussion to present your resume, such as when the recruiter asks about your background or experience.

4. Get ready to network

A career fair is your chance to shine. Don’t worry if you’re an introvert — many successful people are naturally shy. Recruiters appreciate a composed, quiet confidence over cockiness. Furthermore, demonstrating your eagerness to learn and grow will compensate for any shortcomings in your presentation skills.

Good networking with potential employers is also about making every second count. So before the event, craft a 30-second elevator pitch summarizing your skills, qualities and potential value to an organization. Highlight a situation or two where you’ve effectively used your problem-solving, critical thinking or time-management skills. A short success story will make a more profound impression on a recruiter than a laundry list of credentials.

Rehearse your pitch a few times, but don’t learn it by heart. You don’t want to sound robotic or risk losing your train of thought if the recruiter interrupts with a question or comment.

The recruiter will also evaluate your listening skills, so don’t switch off when you’ve finished your pitch. Listen carefully to what the recruiter says and then follow up with two to three questions. Don’t make these too broad or open-ended — “What is your company’s mission?” makes it sound like you’re winging it. On the other hand, “I saw on your website that you emphasize [specific aspect of company culture]. How do you foster that culture within the team?” shows that you came prepared.

Before you move on, thank the recruiter for their time and say you look forward to speaking with them again. When they hand over their business card, place it carefully in a folder rather than stuffing it hurriedly in a pocket. Last impressions matter, too.

Are you a first-time job seeker? Prepare for your job search by reviewing these resources.

5. Nurture your new connections

Even if you leave the career fair with some strong leads, your job’s still not done yet. The days and weeks following the event are your time window to nurture any valuable connections you’ve made.

Start by sending a short thank-you email to every recruiter you spoke to. Not every attendee will go to this trouble, so it’s another way to stand out from the crowd. Also, try to think strategically — a recruiter who doesn’t have an open position right now could be just as valuable in the long term as one who does. If you made a good impression, they may consider you for roles that aren’t publicly advertised or recommend you to their peers at other companies.

Career fairs are your stage to showcase your skills and kick-start your professional journey. With the proper prep, attitude and follow-through, you’ll be well on your way to creating meaningful connections.