Your professional and personal references can also provide you with an excellent opportunity to develop initial company referrals. After they have agreed to serve as your references and provide you with letters of recommendation, ask which companies they recommend that you contact. Ask for a recommendation of the top five employers in your field you should definitely contact. And ask if there are any personal contacts at the companies to whom they could refer you.
Not only are these people serving your indirect needs as references, they are also serving your more direct needs as referral sources in your new job search network.