Members of the Silent and Baby Boomers knew well that that terms "relationship" and "contacts" were code for the web of obligations which keeps the establishment as well as the underground economy running. It was all business, the detailed accounting of how much they had deposited into the "Favor Bank" and how much they had withdrawn. There were few relationships as traditionally understood.
That web of obligations still determines influence, power, and wealth. If the number of deposits is low, influence and power decline. Wealth could soon follow. Practiced players are careful about the favors they accept since they don't want to be indebted too heavily. Therefore, equally practiced players are equally careful about the favors they extend. Do it too readily and they scare those they need on their network.
The man who explained the dynamics of the Favor Bank was Bob Dilenschneider. In the beginning of the 1990s he published the then-landmark book "Power and Influence." Eyes popped, at least among non-insiders. So, that's how it was done, we realized. The game wasn't about likability or personality. It was about what you had to trade and the art with which you did that.
Today it's exactly the same game, only labeled "relationship building" and "making contacts." Unfortunately too many Millennials go by the labels and remained on the outside.