Indeed, the most important aspect to the job search is networking. But what if you don’t already have a solid network in place, or it has been a while since you connected? It is crucial that you begin to build or reconnect with your network.

Below are some tips to help get to work:

  • Get involved with a community service group. This is a great way to build your network as well as hone your professional skills.
  • Join a professional/trade association. These organizations can provide training and education opportunities and most hold several networking functions every year. The dues are worth their weight in gold if you meet a person at an event who can help you find a new job.
  • Have lunch with at least one new contact each week. Obviously, networking is an essential part of finding a job. But blindly adding new people to your LinkedIn contacts list, where they will likely just collect dust, is entirely ineffective. It is vital to meet with people on a regular basis. Lunch or even over coffee is an ideal setting, because it is more relaxed. Building these relationships may help you in your current position, and they will definitely help when you enter the job market.
  • Rev up your skills. Employers want to know that you are up on the latest skills, trends, advances, etc. While some employers will foot the bill for continuing education, the number who do so is shrinking. And, if you are between jobs, no one but yourself can ensure that your skills are up-to-date. Explore online courses and local certificate programs to broaden your industry knowledge, increasing your marketability to a variety of employers. Not only will your skill set increase, but you may meet industry professionals who are also continuing education.
  • Look beyond your industry. Just because you have been working in the same industry for a certain number of years, does not mean that you must stay in that industry. Your fundamental job function is the primary skill set you are selling to employers, not your knowledge of a specific industry. Your skills as an IT professional in the financial industry are certainly transferable to the health care industry, for example. Job seekers can greatly expand their chances of success by expanding the number of industries in which they seek opportunities.
  • Build out your social media profiles. A recent Challenger survey found 80% of recruiters check social media to vet candidates, and another survey from ResumeGo found candidates are 71% more likely to land an interview if their LinkedIn profiles are complete. Job seekers should utilize every tool available to them to not only attract recruiters and hiring managers, but also impress them. Keep it professional when building your online brand.

(Related: What to wear to an interview)