If you can fly to LA next month, there's a seminar coming up, featuring the members of VII photo agency. I think these photographers are a little too privileged today to be your "working-class heros", but it's still an opportunity to meet them in person anyway. Or you might have to find a simlar event in your area and attend it with your portfolio.
But the thing is, you could make good connections with people, but that might not be leading you to any employment opportunity right away. So, if you really have to do something right now, have your work ready and contact the places you want to reach. If you have to start from scratch, then grab a camera and hit the road.