First and foremost, as in many other businesses I would have to say that the "referral" has been a crucial element to my success so far... always be professional and never burn a bridge.
However, another method has been targeting the set of clients (magazines, corporations, or ad agencies) I would like to work for and tailoring a photographic presentation specific to their needs and interests. In this case I'll be focusing my portfolio presentation on the Halls of Academia within the New York / Tri-State area.
These institutions are like small corporations with talented in house design teams who often need fresh imagery specific to their University or College. The assignments can call for large scale location or studio shoots as well as documentary / sports photography.
Over the next two weeks I'll keep you posted of my strategy, execution, presentation, and success (I never failed in school, except for Organic Chem, but that's a different story :).