What has worked well for me is to make the most of any opportunity to attend a training session, course, seminar, conference or convention specific to my industry. While at any of these events, make it a point to introduce yourself to whoever you sit next to in the session and at lunch. During the conference breaks, I think one of the most important things to do is visit the exhibit hall. Make it a point to stop at each booth and introduce yourself and ask what they do and what makes their product/service unique. Be ready to give them a concise summary of your experience and responsibilities and exchange business cards.
Find out if there are local networking groups for your industry or interests. A few sources to utilize are: LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) and MeetUp (www.meetup.com). If there aren’t any, start one. An example: Wilmington, NC has 2500+ people employed by companies involved in pharmaceutical clinical research. Three industry acquaintances and I started the Wilmington Pharma/Bio/CRO Networking Group. We meet monthly, except in the summer and have 10-30 attendees each month. Its rarely the same group and others attend as they are looking for work or have moved to the area and want to know what is going on. It allows others to get to know you and you to know them and their companies. There is some truth to the statement: its not what you know, its who you know. While a friend or acquaintance may not be able to hire you him/herself, a recommendation from them helps your resume rise up out of the pile of resumes so that you can get an interview. You still have to succeed in the interview but getting to an interview is immensely helpful and increases your likelihood of getting the job.