To have connections? Or to know how to make them? What is better?

Many times I have heard that somebody knows this director, that company owner, that celebrity etc. At interviews, many sales people sell them-selves through declaring they have a huge network of contact (as it is written as a requirement in the ads). My question is: Is it really that important to have contacts? Does it have the crucial value? Let me fasten this with two examples:

  1. An interview with a sales candidate: “So You have a lot of contacts. That is great. What if I tell You just as an example that for our company with our product Your contacts are completely irrelevant. What would You do?” Having a big rollodex does not have that big value as it used to have as today’s contacts are available in a completely different way (LikedIn’s Sales Navigator etc.). The question is how would he find new contacts? And how would he turn them into relationships?
  2. Imagine a strategic preparation for a negotiation with Your big prospect. Your team-mate (T): “I know the director”. You (Y): “Oh, that’s great, so You can appoint a meeting.” T: “Well, actually we haven’t seen each other for a long time.” Y: “OK? So, how do You know each other?” T: “Well… I was sitting next to him… once… in a restroom.” Y: “Hmm? Aha! I guess.. this won’t help us much..” T: “But I said “Hello” at washbasins”

To have a real contact means I know that person, we are in some kind of touch and don’t have to hesitate to ask for a meeting or a favor. Each of such contacts has to be nurtured and developed. If You keep asking Your friend for a favor all the time and never come back with an offer of helping hand he will break Your connection one day. Why shouldn’t he? In business, it is just the same.

So think twice before You say You know somebody and before You hire someone selling him-self with a network of contacts.