In today’s world, many job-seekers rely primarily on internet job applications. Responding to job postings definitely has it’s place. Sadly, this approach leads many talented and hard-working people absolutely nowhere.

The trouble with online applications is that for each job posting, employers are inundated with hundreds of resumes. And it’s very hard to stand out when your information is similar to that of hundreds of others, and many submitted resumes never even get read.

In contrast, when you actually meet and talk with potential employers, you allow your best qualities to shine forth. Your personality, confidence, your professionalism, the sound of your voice, or your body language – all these elements can make lasting impressions on people looking to hire.

Over half of job openings are never advertised online or anywhere else. In many cases, jobs open all of a sudden, for a myriad of reasons. A company might be expanding; employees move away; people get fired. Employers want to fill those vacated positions as quickly as possible, so that business may continue uninterrupted, so they so often opt to hire familiar faces rather than go through the hassle of sifting through hundreds of online resumes.

There’s also another kind of hidden job opportunity: the job created to accommodate a specific person. If you really hit it off with an employer, he or she might develop an entirely new position just for you, even if the employer was not planning on making new hires anytime soon. That way, the employer can prevent you from going to one of her competitors. Since this job is likely to be designed around your personal strengths, you’ll probably find it to be rewarding and fulfilling.

So how do you get started with networking? What are the most effective strategies? The first step is to research your industry of choice and find people you would like to network with. You’ll want to email and call as many of those people as you can, as soon as you can.

Try to find some kind of interesting item to include in your email or talk about during your call. For example, if you learn from online that one of them has recently won an award or earned a promotion; congratulate him or her on that success. Then politely request an in-person meeting or phone conversation, and briefly touch upon that you want to learn more about their career, as you are trying to make it in the same industry.

Also, don’t forget that you already have a network you can tap into as well: friends of your parents, former co-workers, those you are connected to on LinkedIn and so on, who may be well-connected. Give them a call, catch up on old times, and find out if they’d be willing to introduce you to people or employers in your industry.

Whenever talking with possible employers, convey enthusiasm for their companies and for the career field in general. Be polite, but be yourself. You can inquire if internships are available (review these internship interview questions and answers first though), as a successful internship is often a path to a full-time position. Also ask if she or he knows others who might be helpful to your career search, so you have other people to contact. After you meet or speak on the phone with someone, follow up with an email or text of thanks, even if the conversation didn’t seem to get you anywhere.

Finally, try to enjoy the networking process as much as you can and spend time becoming genuinely interested in people. It can be a great way not only to find a job, but to forge friendships that last a lifetime.