What is the best way to introduce yourself and land an interview without it being awkward with the recruiter? Also how do you stand out at a large career fair?
Short answer: ASK GOOD QUESTIONS.
Long Answer: Remember that employers are at career fairs for a reason too. They want to hire you! So with that in mind, try to remember that you offer a lot of value in your exchange with them. Now, to effectively demonstrate that value, you'll want to come across as confident and interested in them, but not desperate.
Before you go to the career fair, try to research some of the companies that will be attending so you can have some topics of conversation with the recruiters. But, you don't want that conversation to just be you regurgitating facts at them. Ideally you can ask pointed questions that demonstrate that you know a bit about what they do, but that you really want to understand the internals or the day-to-day a little bit more intimately. For example, say you meet John Deere at a career fair – you can say that you learned recently that John Deere is becoming more of a software company and that was really interesting. Then you could ask what types of project/product management philosophies their software teams subscribe to. Or maybe you could ask more about what career development looks like as a software engineer at John Deere as compared to being a mechanical engineer there.
If you can ask questions that show you're interested, knowledgeable and a self-starter, you'll have a great chance of standing out and crushing that career fair!
Preparation! It makes you stand out. Several people I've seen at career fairs usually come unprepared and lax. Treat any career fair you attend like an interview. These are first impressions of your next possible employer! Dress business casual, put a smile on your face, and have resumes ready. I tend to feel awkward in settings like that, but I find dressing up adds a bit of confidence. Have a few questions prepared that would work with asking most employers as well as company specific questions prepared for places you're interested in. Overall: look and feel like you want to be there; that will resinate with the people you talk to.