Any job search expert these days will tell you that the key to finding a job (or clients, or vendors, or whatever) is to network with people. As much as 80 percent of jobs are found through networking. But for some reason that concept has a stigma. People think networking is all about taking advantage of others. But really, it's a two-way street: If you help me now, I will be willing to help you later--or vice versa.
But the Internet saves the day yet again. Now you can build and manage your personal network online. Virtually gone are the days of having to call someone on the phone and use a script to ask for help.
There are dozens of professional networking sites online, but the biggest one by far is LinkedIn. How it works is that you sign up for the site and provide a profile of yourself. You want to make it sound impressive but authentic. Then you can search the site for people you already know and send them an invitation to join your network. Once you do, you can see who's in their networks. If you see someone who works at the company that you want to get a job at, you can ask the person you know to introduce you.
Lots of people have expressed trepidation about joining. They think they'll get spammed or harrassed, have their identity stolen, or be forced to recommend the office drip to their idol. I have been a member for almost a year now and haven't had any problems. If you don't want someone in your network, you can ignore them. And they'll never really know whether it's intentional, or maybe you just didn't get their invitation. Like, I'm not taking it personally that my cousin ignored my invitation to join my network. He's got a new baby. I'm sure he's busy...
So check it out, and look me up. If I know you or you can make a convincing case, I'll join your network.