Job boards still remain an effective way to find a job, but they are only half the story. Many of the best jobs are still filled via networking and word-of-mouth referrals. These jobs, which often never make it to a job board, may account for as much as half of all open positions.

If you stick to job boards all your job-searching life, you’ll never access this “secret” network of jobs. As a result, you will miss out on many great job opportunities. However, if you combine your job board strategy with networking skills, you’ll find many more open positions.

But, how, exactly, do you tap into the hidden job market if the jobs in it are never made publicly available? It’ll take a little strategizing, but here are six tips that should help you build a great network and mine it for hidden jobs:

1. Build Your Own Job-Acquisition Network on LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a powerful networking tool – but only if you know how to build a network of career-relevant contacts and organizations.

To do this, you should start by outlining some target employers and professional areas in which you are interested. Then, you can work on building connections to and relationships with members in these organizations and professional fields. The result should be your very own private career-development and job-acquisition network.

2. Mine Information From Insiders

Make contact with relevant professionals in your private career network. They don’t need to be influential – they just need to be employees of your target organizations. Ideally, they should also work in your target department.

Blue SkyAsk these inside contacts if there are any opportunities emerging. What might seem like basic information to them  – e.g., “We’ve been struggling to find someone with skills in this area” – might be gold to you. This is a great way to uncover opportunities before they become publicly available.

3. Find Yourself a Few Mentors

It’s hard to make meaningful connections with senior decision-makers on LinkedIn. The fact of the matter is, you probably aren’t on their radars.

However, you may be able to gain access to senior professionals – and develop your career at the same time – by approaching them as a student in need of a mentor. If you can get a mentor who also happens be to an influencer in your industry or target company – a mentor who can vouch for you in job applications – you are more likely to be invited to interview, and more likely to land the job as well.

4. Build Relationships With Influencers

Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that people who are recommended for jobs are twice as likely to be invited to interview and 40 percent more likely to be offered a job.

Your best bet for landing a job, whether it’s hidden or publicly advertised, is to connect with influencers and decision-makers at the company, like hiring managers, team leaders, and senior executives. A good way to make connections with influencers is to start by showing interest in their updates and discussions on LinkedIn. Start engaging with their content, and gradually build a relationship from there.

5. Make Strong Ties With Job Creators

I’m speaking here about hiring managers and corporate recruiters. These people hold a lot of power in the hiring process, so it’s very useful to have them on your side.

Of course, there will be a lot of competition for their favor. Many other job seekers will be vying for their endorsements, too, and that may leave them feeling a little annoyed. So, you’ll want to approach hiring managers and corporate recruiters very carefully. You don’t want to be just another pest!

One way to connect with these important figures may be through LinkedIn’s “request an introduction.” In that case, you can ask an influencer who knows both you and the hiring manager/corporate recruiting to vouch for your skills. Hiring managers and corporate recruiters will likely be less annoyed by this sort of introduction than they would if you had come to them yourself as just another job seeker.

Ocean6. Build Up Your LinkedIn Recommendations

Detailed, relevant recommendations from credible, influential, and respected people will boost your profile and increase your chances of being invited to interview for an emerging job opportunity.

By adopting some or all of these strategies, you will be able to develop your own private job-acquisition network, which you can then use to find out about, apply for, and land great jobs long before they hit the open market. If you nurture and leverage your private network in the right ways, you might never need to use a job board again.

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