You’ll get asked this at the door of any college house party, unless the student-turned-bouncer already recognizes you.
They always growl the phrase; “who do you know here?” becomes aggressive rather than inquisitive.
And with good reason–if you don’t know someone there, you’re more likely to steal, break something, or be an otherwise disrespectful party guest. The appointed temporary bouncer trusts those who know the house’s residents and denies those who don’t.
This is why networking is important. We tend to trust people who know our friends because we trust our friends’ judgement, and that tendency is a powerful one.
An interviewer won’t growl “who do you know here?” when you enter the company’s building, but telling them about your connections can definitely help build a positive first impression and preliminary trust.
The interviewer isn’t as worried about you breaking and stealing things, but they are concerned with your work ethic, the quality of your projects, and how you fit with company culture.
Knowing someone there implies you match their work ethic, quality, and fit.
If networking seems intimidating, it might help to think of it as your future ticket into a (professional) house party. It’s just like college all over again.