The supposedly new discipline of “networking”, i.e. the professional, professional cultivation of relationships, is not new at all. The culture of meeting, coordinating and systematically cultivating contacts was pronounced in all forms in Europe long before the first professional clubs and social networks emerged in Great Britain or the USA. One of the reasons why the “club tradition” was never as successful in Germany, for example, as it was in Anglo-Saxon countries, is that we already have a very distinctive everyday networking culture. To build a successful social network, you need people who have a special ability: the ability to harmonise one’s own interests elegantly with the interests of others so that cooperation becomes possible. You often have to put your own short-term benefit aside in order to be able to act together with others and then achieve more in the future. This is the essence of sustainable “networking”.
These skills have always been hard-won in Central Europe. The centuries of conflict in a confined space, the many small competing power structures were a perfect training ground for networking skills. The Holy Roman Empire of German Nations forced its inhabitants into a policy of perpetual compromise.
This gave rise to a strong, enlightened bourgeoisie that mastered the unique art of openly representing its own interests while not forgetting the common good: The absolutely necessary basis for functioning networks.