When done right, networking leads to the best opportunities for internships. It can really open doors for permanent employment at lesser known companies as well as Fortune 500’s. There is a hidden job market out there that is only accessible to those who work hard to personally connect with those at companies who don’t advertise positions. Networking and personal connections make the difference in who gets a good job and who is left to battle it out for the bottom of the barrel.

1. The First Step: Reaching Out

Talk to friends, family, teachers, church members, neighbors, family friends (really, anyone that you can), and even contact employers directly through email and over the phone. Start reaching out to everyone you know and inform them that you are looking for a position. the more people that know, the better. It makes it much more likely that you find a position by a connection referring you.

The key is to be prepared and targeted with your outreach. For example, knowing how to find an internship in fashion means knowing you should have photos, videos, projects, portfolios, and even a web site dedicated to your dream. This is the easiest way to make people see you and understand how committed you are to your craft. It also makes people more interested and committed to helping you find a position.

2. First Impressions Make Connections (I am going to Trademark this, Google says it’s original)

Making a connection is all about the first impression. Potential employers want to know you have experience, education, skills, etc, but they also want to know that you are personal and will fit in with their company culture.

Also, don’t forget that managers like to hire other people like themselves. It’s unfortunate, and doesn’t always work out for the best (companies need different viewpoints), but it’s true.

3. Never Go in Blind

You may have heard somewhere that sending your resume to every online job posting possible will get you a job. That’s not what employers are after in this tough job market, though if you do enough, it is how to find an internship the lazy way. They want the go-getters. People who are proactive and care about doing their job so well, as if they owned the company. They strive for revenue and sales and despise non-productive expenses.

These are people who stop by the office, call for more information, email and email again, network, and really work hard to make a connection. When the competition is steep for an internship, it’s time to do something different and proactive like calling and emailing managers directly to make connections. This catches someone’s attention.

4. Beef Up Your Profiles and Brand Yourself

Networking works even better when you brand yourself. One of the main ways to do this with the best exposure is to work on social media profiles. When you’re networking for an internship, you should make yourself available on every social media site out there.

Need an example of someone who does it well? Here is my favorite, MG Siegler. You can find his social media profiles and about.me page here. Here is his personal blog.

You should have a picture of yourself, short biography, education, previous work experience, notable projects and current projects. (Make it fun and interesting!) It’s even better if you have a web site with a blog that shows off your knowledge, creativity, and social influence.

Anyone can follow or like a page, but you can share info related to their posts, spark discussions, post ideas, and create something new. You should be participating in any public conversation possible with a potential employer as well as commenting and messaging with relevant and usable information that will make people interested in what you have to say.

If you are not sure where to start, BrandYourself.com can help you get this established for free.

5. Don’t Sit Around and Wait

Job seekers frequently say that waiting for the call is the most stressful part. However, this shouldn’t be the case. When you find out about a potential position or know of a company you want to work for, jump on it and start trying to make connections at the company. JobUnlocker Premium can help you identify people to connect with.

Don’t be a pest, but make it very clear that you are interested with your actions. If you are persistent, employers will eventually take notice and realize how committed you are. Internships open all kinds of doors. Start working on finding one today! (And here are some common internship interview questions for when you land the interview)