If you have found yourself looking for a job in the past couple years, you are probably all too familiar with the frustration that usually accompanies the search. People with jobs will give you advice—they’ll tell you to update your resume, rearrange your resume, make your cover letter more personal but shorter, more informative but more concise, do more networking and less searching, do more searching and less emailing…you get the idea. The point is, you can follow these “tips” until you’re blue in the face, but what it usually comes down to is who you know. In fact, a recent statistic noted that nearly 80% of job positions filled in the last year were given to those with a personal referral.

If you’re thinking your search is now hopeless because you’ve already tapped into all of your personal referral resources, think again. With the ease of networking via the internet, there are several networks you can use not only to find connections you already have, but also to make new connections, so your personal connection well will never run dry. Almost anyone who has used the internet to help with their job search and networking will be familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but let’s take a look at few other sites, with a more professional twist, that will give you a leading edge in your efforts.

Plaxo: As far as keeping up with your contacts, Plaxo is your one-stop-shop. Not only does it store all of the contacts from your phone and computer, but it also tracks updates from your contacts from their Twitter and Facebook feeds, so you know what’s going on in their lives before you get in touch. This is especially helpful if you’re reaching out to an old friend or ex co-worker about a prospective job. It will help take away the “cold call” feel and help you get back in the loop quickly so you can get right to what matters.

Ecademy: This tool allows you to connect with other users on a business and social level. Essentially the “business happy hour” of the web, you can connect with people based on business connections you already have, as well as find groups of people who are interested in the same topics as you. For job searchers, this can be a great way to make real connections based on business concepts while getting your name and needs out there to people who trust you.

ZoomInfo: If you need to know more about the people within a company you’re interested in, ZoomInfo is a great source for you. It has been around for over 10 years and holds a database with the information of thousands of professionals. In addition, recruiters often use this site to find potential job candidates, so whether you know how to use it or not, it is always beneficial to set up a profile.

Xing: This is another tool geared towards gathering professionals in a social environment. However, for people looking for a job, this is a great site to join, as it has systems in place which specifically encourage social networking. Not only are there forums and discussion groups, which are always beneficial for job seekers, but there are also appointed “ambassadors” for each community with a decently sized constituency which then hold “events” which allow for the participation and communication of other members.

Whether you use one or all of these helpful technologies, the main idea is to get your name out there and build trust surrounding your name. While these tools help, there is no substitute for hard work and honest time spent, so get out there and make it happen for yourself. You might even end up with more than a job; you might just find your purpose.

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