The new free market economy

On Friday I went to the London meeting of a professional network group. Several of us were there for the first time, having been invited by the stalwarts in the hope of getting us to join. The main purpose of the group is to support freelance consultants and to provide networking opportunities for those not affiliated with a particular local authority.

 Until now, I and my colleagues in other boroughs have had networking and training events provided by Government office for London (GOL). Sadly GOL is now dim and distant memory so we need to make more effort ourselves to stay in the loop.

 It struck me though that the market in my particular area of expertise is going to be changing pretty rapidly. Currently there is a small group of freelance consultants who are well known in London. They are the people that are called when extra help is needed and we all know them very well. But soon more of us will be swelling the ranks of that small group and schools and local authorities will have more choice. Will they choose the old guard or the new young (ish) things?

 These freelancers rely very much on word of mouth, their good reputations and the existing networks of contacts in LAs. They don’t need to do much in the way of marketing and very few of them have a website. We politely respect each other’s geographical boundaries and areas of expertise and wouldn’t dream of treading on each other’s toes.

 Until now.

 Soon there will be no boundaries and every piece of work going will be up for grabs. There won’t be that reliable network of support. I’ll be able to stray beyond the boundaries of my three local authorities. Perhaps I’ll seek work beyond London. I know I’ll definitely be setting up a spiffy-looking website and will be using social media to attract work. The old guard had better pull up their socks.

 But it still feels a little Machiavellian. I’ll have to grow another layer of skin before March but then the world will be mine, all mine. Mwah ha ha.

 Maybe.

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