DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college senior, and I am concerned about my upcoming journey into the real world. I am preparing myself to apply for jobs, but I am very shy. I have tried to be assertive and I have attended job fairs on campus, but when I go, I just briefly greet the recruiter, put my resume on the table and run away. What are some networking tips shy people should keep in mind when approaching recruiters? -- Shy Senior, Rochester, N.Y.
DEAR SHY SENIOR: Keep your focus on your goal -- to find a job. Be clear about what type of job you want. Make sure your resume expresses your interest in that particular job and your experience in that area. Do your research to find out which recruiters represent jobs in your area of interest. Seek those particular people out as you move through the job fair. If you can, create a checklist of who you would like to meet in advance and get a map of the job fair. It will be easier for you to go to each targeted recruiter rather than feeling like you have to search through an endless sea of people.
When you approach a recruiter, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. State your name and say that you have looked him or her up and believe that you might be a good fit for the company. Having done research in advance shows that you are a strategic thinker and a planner. The recruiter will probably appreciate that and invite you to talk. When you talk, stick to the facts at first. Say why you want to pursue your area of interest. Answer any questions you are asked. As you loosen up, share things about yourself that reveal your uniqueness. Follow up with a thank-you note expressing gratitude for the opportunity to meet the recruiter. State that you hope to be considered for the position you discussed.