The Networking Firm was formed in 1996, when I teamed up with strategic partners Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas and Professor Barry Curnow to bring our three niche practices under the same virtual roof.
This was in part an experiment to explore our shared vision of how emerging technology was enabling individuals and small teams to function as a corporate entity in a global market. And, likewise, how large organisations were increasingly functioning as human networks that could become more and more responsive to the individual customer; at a one-to-one level? How the development of the intrapreneur was emerging? And how working in virtual teams; deploying cross-functional and interdisciplinary skills would increasingly become a core capability?
In the case of The Networking Firm, consultancies in future organisation; director and board development; and strategic mentoring were brought under a future organisation and leadership umbrella. The original purpose of the firm was to use converging technologies to enable us to combine and collaborate at individual, group and corporate levels. The aim being to develop organisation and leadership that could adapt and respond to each client as an individual via a wide range of bespoke solutions.
This means that, as a business, The Networking Firm refers to a sole practitioner and sole trader; and as an organisation The Networking Firm refers to a corporation.
During this first phase of the business, what happened in effect was that, rather than aiming to grow the firm as a corporation, our energies went in two main directions. Firstly, within a virtual team much of the energy went into mutual support and development to address the isolation that can sometimes derive from working alone as a sole practitioner. Secondly, growth was directed to growth in quality, premium and brand; through delivering increasingly bespoke services; rather than in investing energy into attempting to grow the business in terms of the size of the team and organisation.