I've been involved in several industries before becoming a writer, dealing with the business, IT and consulting arena. Networking, building contacts and fostering relationships was a key aspect--a critical success factor if you will. I'm not talking about marketing and promotion, I'm talking about winning business and signing on the dotted line. It was how meetings were secured, how opportunities came about and how deals were ultimately made. Of course, there are other capabilities that need to be present, but I've witnessed deals being forged on the strength of a relationship alone (and I'm talking big business here). Not so with publishing. At least from what I've seen. It's the only industry I've had exposure to so far where 'who you know' doesn't seem to much matter, at least on the road to becoming published. I still think it's important to get yourself out there and network, but it's not going to get your work published if it sucks and I think it's true whether you're talking editors or agents. For me, that's very refreshing.
You also have to take into account the reputation of the publisher, but I'd think for readers, this should give a level of comfort. Of course, I could be totally and completely naive about this. Or it's possible I just don't know the right people :), but you know...I really do think it's all about the writing.