I just returned from the Women for Hire Job Fair in New York City where I was offering free resume critiques. In the sea of women that attended the event, I spotted one man. While some of the participants seemed to be looking at this gentleman with a "how did he get in here" attitude, or at least a somewhat bemused fascination, I thought this man was brilliant. What better way to get noticed at a crowded job fair, than to be the only person with a certain differentiating characteristic (in this case, gender). He was, I'm sure, one of the most memorable attendees at the event.
There are a lot of other ways to differentiate yourself in a group. Technology professionals with a specialty in financial services applications can attend an industry event for a financial services professional organization. A human resources executive interested in media companies can attend a workshop relevant to media professionals. A recent college graduate with an interest in attending nursing school can attend a healthcare related professional event. By being "the only one" in a given field at an event, you are more likely to be remembered.
If you are seeking a position in accounting, don't just network with other accountants. Diversify your network to include people from other professions. If you are in your early 20s don't only socialize with other people in their 20s. Network with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. You never know who other people are connected to. Do you tend to associate with people from the same socioeconomic or ethnic background? Make a conscious effort to meet and network with people from a variety of backgrounds to expand your social circle and your potential opportunities.
Dare to be different and you will be remembered. If you can remain top of mind with the people in your network, you are more likely to secure a new and better job faster.