1. When applying for a job / internship, do NOT underestimate the power of reaching out to a contact in that organization!
You can search on LinkedIn to see if you have any connections working at the organization you are applying to; if not, see if you have any friends who have connections at that organization.
Reach out to your connection (or friend's connection) who works there. You can be gentle and gracious in your request:
Example: "Hi! I'm applying for position X in your company. I would love to hear from you about your experience working there, and what would make someone a great contributor [to your organization][in your field]. May I have some time on your calendar, Wed 8-11 am PT, or Thursday 2-5 pm PT? Many thanks!"
All the usual networking tips we've written about (search under Networking tag on this page) apply:
A. Think of the bigger picture: You want to connect with this person to get to know them, their company, their career -- not to get a job necessarily. That takes the pressure off, and makes this about human connection (not a transactional request).
B. Make your note actionable: Suggest some times, be specific, mention the time zone, etc.
C. If the person says no, or doesn't respond, don't get mad or discouraged! You only need to get lucky once! I always write back to thank the person, even if they say no. Be gracious.
If you are NOT currently looking for jobs or positions --> This is the BEST time to expand your network, on LinkedIn, Facebook - however is natural to you - so that, when the time does come, you're ahead of the game.
2. Beyond that, you can also try to connect to people in the same industry or area of work.
Reach out to folks you find interesting, or folks who do the kind of work you want to do, or work in a field you are curious about!
If you need some brainstorming help with what questions to ask when you reach out to someone on LinkedIn or elsewhere, the below (prepared by Certified Coach Jessica Hernandez) has some great suggestions: