Managing Authentic Relationships; 17th century networking

Upward mobility – networking in the 17th century

This blog post in Dutch/ deze blog post in het Nederlands


In the book Managing Authentic Relationships, the Deputy Director of the Hermitage Amsterdam Paul Mosterd writes about relationship management from a historic perspective. Mosterd covers this topic by describing what can be seen on four 17th century militia paintings from the Amsterdam Museum and Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar.

One of the paintings is used for the cover of the book, the other three can be found at the beginning of the three main parts of the book; ‘Authentic Relationships’, ‘Managing Relationships’ and ‘Successful Encounters’. The painting below by Pieter van Anraedt (made in 1675) marks the beginning of ‘Managing Relationships’. 

Managing Authentic Relationships; 17th century networking

The Regents of the Oudezijds Huiszittenhuis, Pieter van Anraedt, 1675, canvas 237 x 425 cm, collection Amsterdam Museum (on loan from the City of Amsterdam)


“It is said that at a dinner, Winston Churchill was seated next to a highly-decorated young man whom he did not immediately recognise. He asked the Sir with interest how he had earned his knighthood. The young man answered proudly that he was a painter. Churchill replied: ‘I see! Art is the easiest way up’.”

“This is upward mobility – an essential premise for networking. If you can’t climb the social ladder, networking is effectively pointless. Ferdinand Bol’s career is an appropriate example of what Churchill meant. He was an extremely successful and highly respected painter, yet it was only after his second wedding in 1669 that he made a real step forward. Anne van Erckel became his wife, and she was very wealthy. Overnight, Bol went from portraying to being portrayed. He was invited to enter the board of one of the city’s most prestigious charitable institutions.

The book about relationship management 'Managing Authentic Relationships 'He is sat at the table in a manner that a true economical regent should. He sits furthest on the left: alert, composed and self-assured. He is a board member, at the mayor’s request, of what we nowadays would call a food bank. These positions were honourable for rich citizens. Moreover, it was thought that wealthy board members would be less corrupt, or in any case would keep less money for themselves. Their pockets were already filled, that was the idea. The regents alongside Bol at the table demonstrate precisely why they are on this board: they are counting money. The motto is ‘show your virtues’. The painting is therefore a depiction of their skills, yet also an open application to more jobs, or perhaps even better jobs. The message is evident: ‘you can trust us’. It is a true testimonial. Of course, Bol knew this like no other. How many careers he had been able to lift with just one painting?”


Read other articles about the book Managing Authentic Relationships on our blog(s):
Managing Authentic Relationship is a book about relationship management and networking published by Amsterdam University Press:

A book about networking and relationship management

A book about relationship management

A professional relationship management requires professional ‘networkers’ as well as ‘Manager(s) of the Network’

A book about relationship management

Dit artikel in het Nederlands

“It is often said that employees are responsible for building and maintaining their own network, because relationships are mostly based upon personal likings or functionalities. That is true, however from an organization-wide perspective there is also a need. Organizational networks should be sustainable and remain after the employee leaves the organization. By nature, all relationships can be seen as personal, but they are also crucial to and an inherent part of an organization.”

This quote from Chapter 10 of the book Managing Authentic Relationship, a chapter written by Gerty Smit of the Hotelschool The Hague university, is about a common misunderstanding in relationship management. A professional relationship management not only requires professional networkers but also a facilitator and enabler of the networkers, the so-called ‘Manager of the Network’. The networker in the organization will relate to the individual relations identified while the Manager of the Network has the overview to orchestrate the bigger – relationship – picture:

  • The networker: those internal stakeholders building and/or maintaining a network (this is a role; this can be almost every employee within an organization);
  • The Manager(s) of the Network of an organization: those responsible for the facilitation and management of the entire network of an organization.

“Being professionals, we are all networkers and we all have different ways of being part of a relationship. We all have different kind of working relations (in- and externally) and also one of more different networks we (more or less) participate in. People always know other people, in formal or informal relationships, while doing official tasks, but also during lunchtime or on a social occasion. This can lead to complications; the information that is shared can come from different perspectives but also with different purposes. Roles might be unclear or overlapping and the information that is shared might be lost because of that.”

Networks should not be shaped at random, but in such way that they contribute to the goal of the entire organization

“Networks should not be shaped at random, but in such way that they contribute to the goal of the entire organization. To achieve this, a network should be structured and transparent. Access to networks is shared among colleagues and the organization benefits from each other’s relationships.”

The book about relationship management 'Managing Authentic Relationships 'The Manager of the Network is there to serve this goal. The Manager of the Network serves the overall goal and purpose of the organization and is among others responsible for:

  • “Translating the overall strategy of an organization into a Networking Vision and Relationship Management Strategy and communicating this vision and strategy in the organization;
  • Mapping and managing the internal stakeholders, defining roles/responsibilities and assisting the Networking Teams in mapping and managing the external stakeholders;
  • Forming the Networking Teams: linking the networkers within the organization to the external stakeholders, those operating in the same network;
  • Measuring results, formulating the KPI’s and calculating the Return-on-Relationship;
  • Supporting the networking activities by making sure the CRM-system is fit to support the Relationship Management activities and used properly by the networkers, by developing basis-routines in mapping and managing external stakeholders and by developing a training program for the networkers;
  • Keep the overview of data management and all social media activities;
  • Developing networking activities such as networking events, newsletters etc.;
  • Keeping track of the external networking activities the organization is involved in.

To manage and facilitate a network in a coordinated way, the Manager(s) of the Network stimulates the networkers towards certain goals by dividing roles and tasks. A so-called transactional leadership transform the networkers by focusing on the importance of the Relationship Management and its purpose, as well as the added value of the networkers when working towards the Relationship Management objectives.”


Read other articles about the book Managing Authentic Relationships on our blog(s):
Managing Authentic Relationship is a book about relationship management and networking published by Amsterdam University Press:

A book about networking and relationship management


Banquet of Guardsmen from the District IV under Captain Jacob Backer and Lieutenant Jacob Rogh, Nicolaes Pickenoy, 1632 (detail), canvas, 198 x 531 cm, collection Amsterdam Museum

What we can learn from 17th century networking; small closed trust-based networks

This article in Dutch / dit artikel in het Nederlands


In March, Amsterdam University Press published the book Managing Authentic Relationships; Facing New Challenges in a Changing Context. A book about networking and relationship management written by Jean Paul Wijers, Monica Bakker, Robert Collignon and The book about relationship management 'Managing Authentic Relationships 'Gerty Smit and with contributions by among others Prof. René Foqué, Paul Mosterd, Paul Spies and Tom Verbelen. The book focuses on building and managing a strong network and reciprocal relationships for the entire organisation by implementing a professional relationship management approach at strategic, tactical and operational level. The book is written for those who have the responsibility within an organisation for the management of a professional business network.

The cover of the book is a 17th century militia painting by Nicolaes Pickenoy. It is a painting of the Amsterdam Museum, currently at display at the permanent exhibition ‘Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age‘ at the Hermitage Amsterdam. In the book Managing Authentic Relationships there are three more militia paintings, all historic examples of successful networking. The Deputy Director of the Hermitage Amsterdam, Paul Mosterd, writes about it in the book:

“In the Netherlands, there are no larger militia paintings than the ones that are displayed in the Hermitage Amsterdam. They remind us of the Golden Age; a period in which trade and culture flourished in our country. Within just a few generations, an incredible economic boom occurred in the newly-established Dutch Republic. The wealthy and powerful citizens who were then in charge, had themselves eternalised in monumental paintings. Nowadays we see them as large, beautifully painted works of art. We can also decipher the codes and analyse the messages that are hidden in these artworks. The paintings served as a kind of LinkedIn on the wall for citizens at the time. They hung in semi-public buildings and were intended for observation and consideration.

The paintings served as a kind of 17th century LinkedIn

Militia members who contributed financially received a place in the painting. Being portrayed towards the front of the painting was relatively expensive and for a full-length depiction, you paid  full price. It was certainly worth it however, because a work of such prestige could boost your career. It was an opportunity to demonstrate your good citizenship and to show that you acknowledged your responsibility to the city. You could also indicate ‘where you came from’ as well as showing how well connected you were. “

In this video Paul Mosterd explains what can be seen on the militia paining by Nicolaes Pickenoy


In Chapter 1 ‘The Importance of Networks and Relationships‘, Monica Bakker also writes about networking in the 17th century: “The Amsterdam admiralty, which was the economic and administrative power in the city, consisted of several closed networks, most of them based on strong family ties. People from within the network where called “friends,” whereas people from outside the network were referred to as “outsiders.” As an outsider, it was profoundly difficult to become part of these networks. The members enhanced their interdependence by gifts, invitations, and favors that at some point it was assumed would be returned. The network ties were based on reciprocity and trust and aimed to strengthen the group’s own economic and social position within Amsterdam society.”

Future networks are like 17th century networks: small, closed high-trust based networks

The paintings are not only relevant as a historic example of networking, these provide us with a vision on the future of networking as well. A vision that is explained by Monica Bakker in Chapter 1: “The expectation of networks of the future is that they will be more closed and centered around a certain shared purpose in so-called high-trust value networks creating both social and financial capital to support their cause. So even while technological developments allow us to be in touch with an ever-wider range of people, the tendency is to use these new technological possibilities to create networks that are:

  • More personal.
  • More closed to outsiders.
  • Relatively small (to safeguard the self-generating power of the platforms).
  • Based on trust and reciprocity.

The seventeenth-century network of friends and outsiders probably looks very dated at first but it is actually coming back, just in a much more complex state, not bound to a shared geographical location and with less face-to-face interaction. Quite like in the decade of the Amsterdam admiralty, personal and organizational success will depend on networking power.”


Read other articles about the book Managing Authentic Relationships on our blog(s):
Managing Authentic Relationship is a book about relationship management and networking published by Amsterdam University Press:

The book about relationship management 'Managing Authentic Relationships '