Sometimes connections are important, even in freelance work. I think that the issue that many employers experience is that they have trouble confirming the qualification and skill of an applicant for freelance work. So having references is very important.
I urge people to try to make recommendations and form amicable relationships with their past and present employees. Trust is very important in freelance work because the person is not directly supervised and can work away from the office. So employers want to make sure that the person they're hiring is trustworthy and will deliver what they promise.