I don't use the word "competition" very much, but I do hear it quite often from others. In general I have found that most performers are eager to meet and assist one another. They want to get to know you and your ability first, but after lunch and a show (yours) the "competition" is your greatest referral. They often want a go to guy in case they are overbooked. Or if a place asks if they know of other performers they are more than happy to pass along their friends.
Start thinking of the competition as a cooperative. See if there are local magic clubs (SAM or IBM is a good place to start). Perhaps you have a monthly clown meeting in your area. What better way to get your name out than to have a bunch of clowns who know a ventriloquist. They may get hired for walkaround and refer you for a stage show! (Warning: Be careful when you take a clown to lunch. You never know what they're going to do!)
One way to meet other entertainers is at a convention. Bring your cards to a booth and chat with them for awhile. Always ask for their card before giving them one of yours. They would much rather give than receive when it comes to cards.