I have a confession: I have recently started to breakfast network. Oh yes, power breakfasting with total strangers. It conjures up scarey images: all-american pumped-up enthusiasm, shoulder pads, rolled up jacket sleeves, the theme tune of Miami Vice.
But honestly, it’s not like that. It’s far more english and more about, well, networking. And it’s indicative of a seismic shift in the structure of the workplace. There's about 3 million self-employed in the UK, and this is set to rise to 6 million by 2020. This shift is evident in the number of business cards with just a mobile number and an email.
4networking has over 300 breakfast groups and apparently about 10,000 people attend meetings and 40,000 use the forum and messaging. 4networking, like other business networking organisations, is a tool for the self-employed. It allows business to take place.
Other crucial tools are website publishing platforms eg WordPress, mailing list management services eg MailChimp, Customer Relationship Management software eg SugarCRM and complete office suites eg Google Apps.
All of these tools allow me to do business at an unbelievably low cost.
So the traditional vision of corporate golf-club old-boy networking is slowly being pushed aside by the swelling ranks of the home-working networked self-employed.