Why Expert Networks Will Gladly Pay $500+ for an Hour of Your Time

Expert networks, like GLG, AlphaSights, Coleman, and Guidepoint, facilitate more than ONE MILLION one-hour phone calls per year with professionals from virtually all fields. These calls are easy, convenient and engaging micro-consulting projects that pay sky-high rates. Whether you’ve just received a LinkedIn message from an expert network inviting you to participate in a paid consulting opportunity or have completed your first few high paying calls and want to figure out how to do more of them, here’s your guide to getting started and thriving in this secretive industry.

Imagine you’re an associate at an investment fund… 

You’ve just come out of a meeting to learn more about a business your firm is considering investing in. 

The CEO was intelligent, charismatic, and told a great story about his company, including some glowing quotes from satisfied customers. He excitedly detailed how a new product line is going to revolutionize the industry. And he showed financial projections that point sharply up-and-to-the-right (even though they were labeled as conservative)!

Everyone was impressed, including your boss who wants to explore buying tens of millions of dollars worth of stock. But the timeline for a decision is tight, so he wants you to dive into deeper research on this business right away. 

Ultimately, there’s one key question he needs you to answer:

“Is it all bullshit?”

To get the real scoop, you’ll need to talk to people who actually know – like customers, suppliers, competitors, and especially former employees. While you’re just parachuting in to learn about the company, these people deal with it every day (and have for years). They know what’s going well with the business and what isn’t. They know what the real story is underneath the highly polished investor presentations. 

And they’ll tell you everything you need to know…for a price.

Expert Networks: A $1.9 Billion Dollar Marketplace for Small Nuggets of Expertise

GLG offices
GLG has helped build a massive industry for buying and selling expertise. Photo source

What is an expert network?

For hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, private equity investors, and management consultants, knowledge and information create invaluable advantages.

These advantages can mean the difference between making, or losing, millions of dollars.  

Over the past twenty years, over 100 companies have emerged worldwide to connect firms with information – more specifically, the experts who hold that information. These global expert network companies have rapidly grown into a $1.9 billion dollar industry that is attracting soaring venture capital investment, led by “The Big Five”.

The main product of expert networks is providing access to people like you, while charging their clients rates that often start at $1,000 per hour.

Best of all, once you connect with a few expert networks, these opportunities start coming to you. You don’t need to do any marketing or selling, and you’ll get paid within days. It typically takes just five or ten minutes to qualify for an assignment, and once you’ve gotten your feet wet with a few projects you’ll discover it’s so easy to find your rhythm that you won’t need to spend a single minute getting prepared. 

Oh, and as soon as you hang up the phone, your work is done – no follow up, no deliverables.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the expert network industry is it’s inclusivity. Expert networks are open to professionals from virtually any industry and at almost any level. As a result, there are more than 1 million expert network calls arranged each year. If you have deep knowledge on a company, product or market, odds are that someone is looking to tap into your expertise. This is especially the case if you have good ties to a ‘hot’ company or two, such as businesses that:

  • are going public or about to be acquired
  • have a soaring (or plunging) stock price
  • have a new CEO or high management turnover
  • are launching a trendy new product
  • will be subjected to new government regulations or policies

Once you get to know the ropes it’s possible to earn several thousand dollars per year from expert network consulting, while working a small handful of hours!

Sounds like a dream side hustle, right? It absolutely is.

And I’ll show you how to tap into this world yourself. In this expert network guide I’ll explain the three types of phone calls you’ll typically have with a client, teach you how to get started with expert networks, show you how to stand out from the crowd, set your own hourly expert network rates, and nail your call. So let’s start by talking about what to expect.

How to Drop One-Hour Knowledge Bombs

The most common way you’ll share your expertise is through one hour phone calls with a client. 

These phone calls generally break down into three types of conversations:

#1 -The Company Deep-Dive

This is your bread and butter expert network call. Investors are looking at taking a position in a company and they want to start getting input from the feet on the street: former employees, competitors, customers, suppliers; or key influencers, like doctors or former government officials.  

Most deep-dive calls are about public companies (or companies about to go public), and the client may or may not have spoken directly with management before chatting with you. Keep in mind they are not always looking at investing in the company you’re talking about – sometimes they are considering betting against it with a short position or investing in a competitor, though they’ll tend to keep those cards close to their vest.  

On a good call, expect things to get laser focused after building rapport with a few softballs. Remember, this isn’t an interview or a sales call. They want to pick up the key insights they can’t get from reading reports or watching presentations, and they want to know what YOU really think. 

  • How do unit economics work and do you think they are getting better or worse?
  • Do customers really like the product or are complaints pouring in? 
  • What do you think about the management team? 
  • Which competitors are really winning and losing?

These clients love numbers and will probe for any key metrics you can share (without revealing confidential or inside information). It’s worth pointing out that investors will rarely, if ever, ask for your thoughts on the share price. It’s their job to evaluate that.

#2 – The Industry Overview

Investors may kick off their research by speaking with a few experts. They often come into these paid consulting calls without much foundation, which can make these calls a cakewalk; you get to play the role of star professor while they lap up your every word.  

These calls tend to dive down into who the major customers and suppliers are in your market segment, what the economics look like, and where the industry is headed. Things will generally shift to your opinion on the leaders or breakout companies, and if there’s an upstart product or technology, they’ll want your perspective on how that may impact the industry. 

You may be asked for your quick take on several companies during a lightning round. But more frequently they’ll want to know, “what questions should we be asking?” as they will be talking to others.

#3 – Consulting to Consultants

While investment firms are the largest client category for expert networks, management consultants are increasingly using expert calls to sharpen their insights. Consulting firms are typically helping their clients launch a new product or business-line, improve the performance of one that is misfiring, or perform due diligence as part of an investment or acquisition.  

These calls tend to revolve more around how things work, such as your process for evaluating a product or service that your company has recently purchased, or if a new product with certain features would be something you’d consider using. 

Again, these calls are easy because clients will hang on your every word while happily paying you top dollar for your opinions (which they probably bill at 2X to their clients. 😉)  

Industry Surveys

Many expert networks also regularly conduct surveys on behalf of their clients. These tend to revolve around your perception of a set of products or what your expectations are for a market in the near future, such as if you expect your budget to grow, shrink or stay about the same and how you’ll allocate it over the next year.

These invitation-only surveys generally take 10 – 20 minutes to complete online and pay a fixed rate, that usually falls between $40 – $70. While they’re generally not as lucrative as completing calls, they are an easy way to make a few extra bucks in your spare time.

How to Get Started with Expert Networks

GLG consulting request LinkedIn
Expert networks like GLG heavily recruit new consultants via LinkedIn message about consulting opportunities.

One of the best parts of expert network consulting is there are opportunities for practically any professional.

C-level executives charging over $1,000 per consulting call tend to get the headlines, but bread-and-butter projects go to upper and mid-level managers (you know, the people who actually DO stuff) in virtually any field:

  • sales
  • marketing
  • finance
  • manufacturing
  • operations
  • human resources
  • strategy
  • and more

And that’s not mentioning the countless projects in areas beyond business. Engineers, construction managers, small business owners, farmers, and former government officials are often in demand. Healthcare also comprises a meaningful chunk of the expert network industry, with a high volume of projects available to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, back office administrators, and veterinarians.

Ready to get started with expert networks? Here are your first steps mapped out.

Step #1 – Get found

Expert networks employee small armies of recent college graduates tasked with finding people who have the firsthand knowledge their clients are looking for on a project (AlphaSights ranks as one of the top 25 employers of new college grads!).

These associates spend much of their day trolling LinkedIn and looking for profiles that match up well with their project descriptions. They typically don’t know much about the subject of the project itself; they’re just trying to find people who match the requirements. (You may have found this page by doing some Googling about a paid consulting opportunity you received via a LinkedIn message!) Make it easy for them to connect with you on LinkinedIn by opening up the messaging settings on your and/or including your email address in the Contact Info section of your profile.

Step #2 – Optimize your LinkedIn profile

Start by adding a descriptive and keyword-rich list of companies, products and industries to your profile (these should be subjects you can knowledgeably talk about). This will help your profile pop to the top of more keyword-driven searches. A good rule of thumb is if you could give a half hour presentation on a topic, you may be an expert in it.

Be sure to list out former employers, vendors you closely work with, software and products you use regularly in your job, and close competitors you frequently butt heads with. Be specific about what your role entails, especially if you share the same title with dozens or hundreds of other people at the same organization (such as ‘program manager’ or ‘vice president’). If you own a budget or are the final decision maker on large purchase decisions, call that out directly as well.

Associates may scan through hundreds of profiles a day, so make it easy for them to see that you closely match the requirements in their project spec.

Looking to fast-track your visibility? Read our insider tips on how to spruce up your LinkedIn profile for expert networks

Step #3 – Register with expert network companies

Once your LinkedIn profile is shipshape, the next step is to invest a few hours creating profiles directly with expert networks.

There are several hundred expert networks around the world, many of which are strong in certain geographies or industries and could be a great source of projects for you. However, “The Big Five” firms are a good place to start:

(If you are especially interested in completing expert network surveys that generally pay $40 – $70, you should also register with up-and-coming networks like Atheneum, Dialectica, Maven Research, proSapient, techspert.io, and NewtonX.)

Your expert network profile should look different than your resume or what you post on LinkedIn. Expert networks are interested in what you know, not what you can do, so omit the soft skills you typically list elsewhere. Your goals here are to show up near the top of the list in relevant search results and quickly convince an associate you match up well enough to their spec to earn an invitation to apply to their project. Associates will typically spend about 10 seconds scanning your profile, so make it SIMPLE AND EASY for them to find what they are looking for.

Remember, most of the time associates know little (or nothing) about the subject matter of the project itself – they only know the qualifications the client is looking for. Those are the terms they are putting in the search query field, and those are the words or names they look for when they scan your profile.

It may only take a few keywords to land a project invite, so list out everything you are qualified to speak about in clear and organized lists. For example, let’s say you’re a seasoned veteran in the sugary cereal business.

You would create detailed, cut-through keyword lists like this:

  • I am an expert on cereal marketing, cereal product development, cereal pricing and promotion, food packaging design, and character licensing.
  • I have five years of experience as a brand manager for General Mills monster cereals: Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry.
  • I compete directly with Kellogg’s Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, and Coco Pops.
  • I manage the $X million Got Milk cross-promotion and am a customer of Advertising Agency X, Marketing Agency Y, and Fulfillment Company Z.

Also, use an extremely direct headline or summary sentence to describe yourself. While you may have great success on LinkedIn by branding yourself with something clever like “Helping America love breakfast”, you don’t want to beat around the bush in your expert network profiles and should make a beeline for a clearer description like “Breakfast Cereal Brand Manager at General Mills”.

Looking to create an eye-catching expert network profile? Read our insider tips on crafting an unmissable expert network profile.

How to Get Picked for Expert Network Projects

Coleman Research consulting projects
A diverse set of recent projects at Coleman Research.

Alright, thanks to your finely polished LinkedIn and expert network profiles, you will soon start receiving invitations to apply for projects.

Most of these invitations should be on-point, but if you consistently receive emails about projects that are way off the mark, take another look at your profiles to see if you need to do any clarification or trimming.

Once you have become established with an expert network, you may be directly asked to participate on calls and projects. But for most opportunities, you will need to complete a few screening questions through an online form or brief phone call with an associate, especially if you are just getting started.

You’ll generally land about 1 out of 5 projects that you respond to, but with a few simple strategies, it’s easy to double that conversion rate. Three strategies I recommend include:

  • Fast responses
  • Create a template
  • Set your availability

How to use speed to get picked for more expert network calls

Speed counts, so reply to project invitations as quickly as you can.

Associates will fire off invites to as many relevant experts as they can to participate in a project, so getting your response in fast helps put you at the top of the pile. This will prevent you from missing out when everyone sourced has a similar set of expertise as you. Most projects call for multiple experts, oftentimes with different relationships and perspective on the focus of the call.

Associates tend to favor highly responsive candidates too, because they view them as reliable and lower risk of causing a major headache like rescheduling a call at the last minute or failing to show up altogether.

How to use a template to get picked for more expert network calls

When answering the screening questions, think about what the associate (and client) is really looking for and deliver it to them. The ideal answer to each question is usually two or three sentences that clearly demonstrate you can deliver the goods. This templated three sentence structure is effective at conveying that you’re the expert they’re looking for.

Here’s an example of how your three sentence structure might look:

  1. Describe why you are an authority on this topic

Example: “I am a brand manager for Monster Cereals at General Mills and have ten years of experience in cereal marketing.”

2. Show that you are a leader and/or control budget in the area they want to know about

Example: “I am the final decision maker on toy-in-the-box promotions and oversee a $10 million annual budget for promotional inserts.

3. Name related products or companies that they are likely care about and explain how you are knowledgeable about them

Example: “In the past year, I have executed significant purchase orders with Company A, Company B and Company C. I also explored proposals but did not buy from Company D and Company E.

Consider how a direct, detailed, and concise answer compares to the respondents who write just a few words, or a simple ‘yes’. It’s hard to imagine a response like the example above wouldn’t make it to the top of the pile for a project on cereal box prizes!

How to use your availability to get picked for more expert network calls

Along with your responses to the screening questions, you’ll also have the option of listing when you’re available for a call.

Take a advantage of this, as it continues to make it easy for the associate to schedule a call with you. List as many convenient windows of time as you can, and don’t hesitate to include time when you take lunch or can pop out of the office or into a conference room for an hour or so.

Making money on your lunch break really is that simple!

How to Set Your Expert Network Hourly Rate

glg hourly rates alphasights
You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 CEO to earn $300 – $500 per hour from expert networks like GLG or Alphasights.

Sky-high rates attract many people to expert network consulting.

But consulting rates vary considerably, generally starting at $100 per hour, but can soar as high as $5,000 per hour (GLG is rumored to have several high profile council members at this price point).

This makes the question of where to set your fee a difficult one to answer. To help you set your expert network hourly rate, here are my top tips…

Tip #1 – Focus on the value you are providing

Your expert network hourly consulting rate needs to make it worth your while, which generally means meaningfully more than your standard hourly compensation. Don’t be afraid to ask for a multiple of what you regularly earn. Remember to focus on the value you are providing (for example, how much a portfolio manager contemplating a multi-million dollar investment will learn from you in one hour) and remember that many expert networks will charge their clients over $1,000 to facilitate a phone consultation.

Tip #2 – Align your fee with the market

Now you’re ready to ask for the big bucks, but keep in mind you do need to align your fee with the market. Understanding the average hourly rates for people with similar experience and expertise as you can help you survey the landscape.

Some general guidelines to targeting your rate:

Experience LevelSample Job TitlesHourly Rates
Individual ContributorsManager, Nurse, Shift Leader, Small Business Owner$100 – $250
Upper ManagementVice President, Doctor, Engineer, Department Head$300 – $500
Prominent ExecutivesCEOs, Former Government Officials, Specialized Surgeons$800 – $1,000+

While expert network associates have wide latitude on the rates they approve for a project, your hourly rate is a key factor in whether or not you are selected for a project (or even presented to the client).

Associates are closely evaluated on the profitability of their projects, so the more they pay out to experts the lower their profit margin. While associates strive to source experts with strong insights for their clients’ needs, if they find two people who look similar on paper, nudging the client towards the expert with the lower hourly rate can make the project more profitable for them.

Tip #3 – Establish yourself as an authority

The best way to consistently get assigned to projects while charging the upper-end of the rate band is by establishing yourself as a top authority in your field of expertise.

If you’re trying to land your first few projects with an expert network, put your consulting rate towards the lower end of your acceptable range to help land your first couple of projects. With a good performance on those initial calls under your belt, it’s easy to explain that you wanted to establish yourself and need to charge your higher ‘standard’ rate going forward. If you’re polite and professional, it’s not hard to rapidly increase your rate by 25% – 50%.

Being able to benchmark with what you charge at other expert networks is helpful too. A few up-and-coming expert networks focused on transparency, like DeepBench, will allow you to search and view other consultants profiles and rates. Put yourself into the shoes of an expert network consultant and search for the keywords terms that are commonly used on the projects that you land to see who else ranks highly in the search results. It’s a great way to research your competition for projects to see how they are positioning themselves and how your rates compare to theirs.

Tip #4 – Monitor your acceptance rate

Your acceptance rate on projects is another gauge for whether your rate is appropriate.

If you’re landing 1 – 2 projects out of every five projects you respond to, your rate is set at a good level. If you’re converting opportunities more often than that, a rate increase is certainly in order, while a a lower close rate may indicate you’re charging too much.

Reach out to associates to get feedback on why you weren’t selected for a project. They usually answer the phone and will give you straight feedback on how you can improve your chances of landing more assignments. A quick conversation can help you sort out whether you should adjust your rate, refine your profile, or be a bit more selective in which projects you apply for.

Tip #5 – Vary your rate by network and project

Every call is unique, so it makes sense to vary your rate by expert network and even by project.

For example, GLG has a reputation for pressuring consultants to keep their rates on the lower end, so your GLG hourly rate may wind up being lower than what you charge elsewhere in order to stay competitive.

You may also want to vary your rate by project, charging towards the lower end for broader projects where there are clearly many well-qualified experts available. Then opt for significantly higher rates for a client looking to speak to the few former employees from your business or functional area at your previous employer. Some expert networks make it easy to change your rate through their online interface, while you’ll need to ask an associate to do it for you on others.

Ready to increase your worth? Discover our insider tips on setting your expert network hourly rate.

How to Ace Your Expert Network Calls

I'm an expert

Alright, it’s finally showtime!

Time to dazzle the client with your deep knowledge and thoughtful insights. A stellar call is not only interesting and engaging, superlative feedback from the client can help establish your reputation with an expert network, making you their go-to expert for projects in your niche.

Outside of being the expert that clients expect of you, one of the most important rules of expert network consulting is also one of the simplest – SHOW UP ON TIME!

Being late for calls, rescheduling at the last minute’ or worst of all, failing to show up, will quickly get you blacklisted. To avoid this problem, find a quiet place with a good cellular or WiFi connection and dial-in a couple of minutes before your call is scheduled to start.

Note that many expert networks, like GLG and Guidepoint will pay you by the minute on a pro-rated basis, so try not to have a hard stopping time so you have some flexibility to go past the one hour mark. It’s always nice to pocket an extra $50 (or much more) by keeping a good conversation going for a few extra minutes! You can often seize an opportunity about 10 mins before the scheduled end of a call and say, “based on what you’ve told me, you might also want to ask me about X, Y, and Z. Tell me what you need to hear about.” It’s a great way to productively extend the call or lead to a followup.

As for the conversation itself, remember your main objective is to give the client the information and insights they are looking for. They want the real story, not what they can find in an investor presentation or a Google search. Be specific, name names, and provide numbers where you can. Most importantly, share your opinions. They are talking to you because you are in the thick of things, so don’t hold back on what you think is going to be a huge success, or why something is doomed to fail.

Here are a few more proven ways to stand out and guarantee you grow your reputation (as well as your earning potential):

  • Don’t be afraid to go off-script: While clients will always come prepared with some questions, these calls tend to be fairly free-form. They like to hear about issues they haven’t considered and appreciate brief explanations and examples of how things really work in your field. During longer stories or explanations, it’s good to pause for a moment to check-in with the client to make sure you’re giving them the type of information they are looking for.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree: Most clients turn to expert networks for help proving or disproving their thesis. If they are looking at things the wrong way, or haven’t considered an important factor, tell them. They are not spending top-dollar with expert networks to speak with a bunch of yes-men!
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to a question: A client won’t be offended if you don’t have an answer. In fact, they’ll usually have plenty of other topics they’d like to get your opinion on. Plus, many clients have finely-tuned B.S. detectors and you’ll lose credibility quickly if you start spinning tales.

IMPORTANT: In all cases, don’t provide any confidential or non-public information – the client won’t ask for it and doesn’t want to hear it. Violating compliance rules is the fastest way to be permanently kicked off of an expert network. It can be very tempting to just share a little something you shouldn’t with the client – they’re paying you and you want to be helpful – but DO NOT DO IT! When in doubt, err on the side of caution and tell the client that you are unsure how to answer their question without providing non-public information and they will move on to the next one.

You can also develop safe and legitimate approaches to pointing them in the right direction without sharing anything that you shouldn’t. Provide high level, generalized answers along the lines of “I can’t really share what I know about …, but let me tell you, more generally, ….” Additionally, familiarize yourself with what information is out in the public domain, even if it is hard to find. If there is information they could uncover on their own through public sources like Google or SEC filings it’s generally not going to be considered non-public and you can have at it!

Looking for more secrets behind a winning call? Read our insider tips on delivering a kick-ass expert network call.

Your Work Here is Done

Outside of the money and the flexibility, one of the best features of expert network calls is that your work is done as soon as you hang up the phone!

There’s no deliverable, and no follow up. You don’t even need to send an invoice.

With most expert network firms, it takes a few clicks on their web portal to trigger payment, and some will even pay you automatically. You can generally choose between direct deposit or a check, and you will usually have payment in hand within two weeks and often sooner (which has bailed me out of an overdraft once or twice!). Remember that expert network income is taxable in the United States (you’ll receive a year-end form 1099), so make sure you account for that.

If you’ve made it all the way through this guide, or if you’ve scrolled to the conclusion to see if I know what I’m talking about (no judgement here, I’d do the same) I’ll leave you with this…

It’s easy to be on the fence about joining the world of expert network calls. Easy to think making money on your lunch break or wearing your pajamas is a pipe dream that’s not grounded in reality.

But the truth is – knowledge is a drug.

If you’ve got it, you better believe someone out there wants it. And when money is on the line – possibly millions of dollars resting on that knowledge – they’ll pay handsomely to get your knowledge out of your head, and into theirs.

It’s not a mysterious industry. It’s simple supply and demand. Now it’s up to you to take what you’ve learned in this guide, and make your expertise count. Take what you’ve learned here and register with some expert networks. You’ll rapidly start receiving project invitations and be on your way to building an interesting and lucrative side hustle in expert network consulting!

Time to get started! Register with the Big Five expert networks here:

How I’ve Earned Over $35,000 from Easy Expert Network Consulting Calls

expert network payments
Expert networks will pay you quite well to chat with their investor and management consulting clients for an hour.

When I first got a random note via LinkedIn, I probably thought it was a scam, if I thought much about it at all.  

I had been identified as an “expert” by a company named Gerson Lehrman Group, which I’d never heard of, and they’d like to pay me to spend an hour consulting their client by phone.  I was skeptical, but didn’t find any major red flags after doing some online research. 

During a brief phone call, the GLG account manager who had contacted me explained that an investment fund manager wanted to learn more about a vendor I used at work, such as how I viewed them versus their competition and how satisfied we were with their services.  I wouldn’t have to do anything to prepare and there would be no follow up work.  

It sounded like easy money (spoiler alert: It was!) and I could set my own rate.  I had no idea what to charge so I went with the account manager’s recommendation of $150/hour – amusingly billed in one minute increments.

A few days later, I took the call over my lunch hour.  The investment manager was quickly trying to get up to speed on my vendor.  Many of his questions were very foundational to me and easy to answer, but he soaked it all up like a sponge.  It was an easy, interesting and pleasant conversation, and a few days later a $150 check from GLG arrived in my mailbox.

I was hooked.  I’d been dabbling with a few side hustles for years, though they always seemed to require more time and effort than I had anticipated and were never quite as lucrative as I had hoped.  Suddenly, I had discovered an incredible world of concise, but high paying consulting work that I could schedule one hour at a time, whenever it was convenient for me.  

I couldn’t wait to do my second call.  And over the next several years, I’ve wound up doing many dozens more, earning over $35,000 in easy extra income along the way.  

I wanted to share some of the secrets to success that I’ve learned along the way:

You know more than you realize.

Calling yourself an expert can trigger a bout of imposter syndrome, but you if you’ve been in the same job or industry for a while, you likely know a lot more than you realize – and certainly a lot more than an investor or consultant who has spent just a few hours or days in getting to know the lay of the land. 

You know what’s going well for your company and what’s not, and you have a pretty strong sense of which competitors are thriving and which are struggling.  You have a strong sense of how a new product or regulation is going to impact sales.  You’ve gone through extensive processes to select vendors and have strong opinions on which ones are doing an amazing job and which ones you can’t wait to replace.  

This is expertise.  Much of it may be so droll or second nature to you that you don’t even realize how much you really know.  What’s standard stuff to you is a firehose of knowledge to an investor or management consultant who has barely passed square one in getting to know what’s really going on in your industry. 

Getting started with expert networks

There are over 100 expert networks around the world, creating an industry that now generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue.  They typically charge their clients $1,000 for each one-hour call with an expert, meaning that the industry is facilitating about 1 million calls each year – thousands per day!

With that many calls to arrange on an incredibly diverse and ever-evolving range of subjects and companies, expert networks have a voracious appetite for new consultants and thus have their own large teams dedicated to finding and recruiting experts to their platforms. (Expert network AlphaSights hires so many people for this role each year they’ve even cracked the top 20 list of most popular employers for recent college grads!)

So, oftentimes your first exposure to an expert network is when they reach out to you, frequently via LinkedIn.  An associate will be looking to match consultants to an active client request, and they haven’t been able to find candidates with the right fit (or enough of them) in their existing database to present to their client. (Referrals are also a top source of new consultants for expert networks, so if you have friends or colleagues working with a platform that you are not, let them know that you’d love an introduction!)

expert network linkedin invitation
Expert networks heavily recruit new consultants via LinkedIn

The first step is generally a brief phone call with an associate, who can give you a brief overview of their company and the assignment, pre-qualify you for the opportunity and ask you to set your rate.  Even if you’re clearly not a fit for the assignment they are working on, this is a great opportunity to register with a network and create a profile, which will lead to more potential opportunities coming your way.

Every assignment will require you to complete a handful of qualifying questions, either online or during a very brief phone call.  This will take you less than ten minutes, but do invest some effort to show how you match with what they are looking for.  Where you have firsthand experience with companies that they are likely to have interest in learning about, be sure to name them and detail your relationship to them.  

From there, an associate at the expert network will present your answers and profile to the client, who selects which expert(s) they’d like to consult with.  If you’re selected, you’ll generally be asked to find a time that’s convenient for you, and then it’s off to the races!  

From the time you receive that first email about a project to holding the call with the client is usually just a week or two.   At the scheduled time, you’ll connect via the network’s conference calling system.  All you need to do is show up on time.  Most calls tend to still be audio-only, so it makes it easy to take the call from anywhere and is a nice reprieve from unending litany of video calls we all suffer through these days.  

When the call is done, all you need to do is hang up.  There are no further deliverables hanging over your head, no follow-up work to do, and no one to send a thank you note to.  

Getting paid is a breeze!  Most networks have simple online invoicing systems that require just a few clicks to complete, and you’ll usually see an electronic deposit show up in your bank account a few days after that.

How an Insider Trading Scandal Nearly Killed GLG (and the Entire Expert Network Industry)

It’s not surprising that investors are willing to pay $1,000 or more per hour to expert networks to gather insights on multi-million dollar investment decisions. This is the essence of investment research, and it’s what professional investors are paid to do. 

GLG insider trading

But any time that big money and high stakes are involved, the temptation to step into the grey area – or fully across the line – will be too much for some people to resist. And that’s a line that needs to be carefully navigated, since on the other side is insider trading, two words guaranteed to kill the mood and conversation at any party involving financial folks.

The official definition of insider trading is divulging information that is both non-public and material. In other words, information that would affect the stock price if it were publicly known.

As we’ll see, you’ll have ample opportunity to get acquainted with the ins-and-outs of what is legal and illegal before you reach the stage of having to part with any information under the auspices of an expert consulting agreement.

It’s important to stress that expert consulting is not a “minefield” when it comes to this sort of issue. Expert networks facilitate over a million client calls per year, and compliance breaches are extremely rare. 

Once you are familiar with the rules, it’s not difficult to follow them, and almost everyone involved does. Especially clients, who if anything have more on the line than the experts, as they are playing with their company’s reputation.

All that said, it’s also important to know the example of what happens when people ignore this advice. 

The following story (covered at length in this New Yorker article) not only ruined the lives and reputations of the expert and client involved, but also threatened the very existence of the expert consulting industry.

If you don’t want to end up as Pulitzer-fodder, read on!

SAC Insider Trading Scandal Ropes in GLG

Up to 2012, although there had been some rumblings in the press about insider trading cases tied to consultants at expert networks such as Primary Global, the expert consulting industry as a whole, and in particular its largest player, GLG.  Still, the nascent industry had largely avoided both scandal and scrutiny during its first decade of rapid growth.

Then came the court case that the press dubbed the greatest hedge fund scandal of all time, that still ranks highly among the exploits of Bernie Madoff and the fall of Galleon Group. And unfortunately, GLG was – if not at the center – very firmly in the vicinity when the proverbial hit the fan.

The historic debacle that unfolded in 2012 involved hedge fund trader Mathew Martoma (the client) and Dr. Sidney Gilman (the expert).

Martoma had been working as a portfolio manager at CR Intrinsic, which was affiliated with SAC Capital, a giant investment firm known for its stellar returns, whose boss, Steven A. Cohen, is the current owner of the Mets, and the inspiration behind the character of Bobby Alexrod in “Billions”.

The case hinged upon a relationship the trader Martoma built with the clinician Gilman over the course of more than 40 consultations relating to a new Alzheimer’s drug, then in the trial phase. The press reported that Gilman earned over $100k from the consultations, charging a rate of $1,000 per hour.

The drug in question had shown promise in its initial tests, drawing considerable interest from the investment community. Later, disappointing results led to a decline in the stock price of the firms involved. In other words, access to foreknowledge about the drug’s progress at each stage could definitely be classified as ‘material’.

The FBI accosted Martoma at his home several years later, and confronted him with information they had gathered about his past, which included evidence that he had illegally obtained proprietary information in his former dealings with Gilmen.

Gilman, who was involved in leading the drug trials, later testified that he had indeed divulged non-public data during the consulting sessions regarding trial outcomes while speaking with Martoma. 

Martoma, in turn, had allegedly used the information gathered from his calls with Gilman to make his firm $276 million in profits by speculating on shares of Elan and Wyeth, the firms behind the new drug.

The official SEC complaint made it clear that the expert network for whom Gilman was working (in this case GLG, whose name was not mentioned explicitly) was not at fault, and that both Gilman and Martoma had circumvented the network’s compliance procedures by, amongst other things, deliberately misrepresenting the discussion topics of their meetings.

Apart from anything else, Gilman had violated the terms of the confidentiality agreement, in which he stated that he would ‘share only information that is openly available’. GLG also provided email evidence in which they had explicitly told Gilman that Alzheimer trials were out-of-bounds for discussion with Martoma.

So how did it all go wrong? 

The calls were not recorded, and so we will never exactly know. All we have is the testimony of Gilman, who stated that it was difficult in retrospect to identify the precise moment in the relationship when the line was crossed. Using his words, at some point the answers just ‘slipped out’.

While Martoma and SAC both maintained that no illegal actions had taken place, Martoma was the eighth employee of SAC to be charged with Insider Trading. A federal investigation later concluded that the culture of SAC not only tolerated but encouraged the gathering of inside information. 

Upon conviction, Martoma’s assets were seized to settle a part of the multi-million dollar fine, and he began a nine-year sentence in federal prison, from which he was released earlier this year. Dr. Gilman resigned from his position at the University of Michigan, and his name was scrubbed from the institution’s records, including the hospital wing that had been named after him. 

Expert Network Compliance Expands in Response to Insider Trading Scandals

The resulting exposure clearly had the potential to inflict long-term harm on the reputation of expert networks, and GLG in particular. It may have seemed, briefly, that the future of the industry was in doubt. 

As it turned out, this was not the case. GLG turned a potentially bad situation around, not only by redoubling its compliance efforts to ensure that similar incidents would be preventable, but also by diversifying its focus, brand and client base beyond Wall Street and into Fortune 500 companies and major law firms. The industry as a whole has followed their lead by making rigorous expert network compliance screening, training and monitoring a cornerstone of their product offerings.

The key takeaway for us is that compliance procedures are not – repeat, *not* – a meaningless formality! They are there to protect the reputations, livelihood, and integrity of everyone involved.

There are guidelines that each network will have in place that govern client-expert relationships. Here are some example guidelines from GLG’s compliance framework:

  • Employees may not engage in projects about their own company
  • Employees may not consult with known competitors of their company
  • Extensive or ongoing projects, which may ‘entail a deeper relationship with clients’ are subject to a special qualification process.

More generally, the rules and procedures that expert networks put in place typically include:

  • Who can and cannot participate in projects where conflicts of interest might be present
  • Topics that certain consultants may and may not address in consultations with certain clients
  • Training for both clients and consultants in all relevant protocols and guidelines.
  • Tools to assist compliance departments (e.g. call transcriptions and recordings) and provide documentation to protect those involved in case of a subsequent allegation.

You will likely be required to sign and annually re-affirm a document that states you have reviewed any agreements you are subject to and are permitted to take part in expert consulting, and that you will decline to take part in any project that would violate these agreements. 

The onus is partially therefore on you to pre-vet any engagements that may turn out to have conflicts of interest involved, although the network is obviously incentivized to help you identify them.

Annual, sector-specific training may well also be mandatory, whereby you will reacquaint yourself with what constitutes confidential information in your area of expertise. This will help to hone your spider senses for any edge cases you might come across.

Separately, the network will be liaising with the client and making it as easy as possible for their own compliance departments to pinpoint potential issues with candidates.

Above all, if you suspect that you are being asked to provide non-public, material information, you should always err on the side of safety: politely end the call, and notify the network. Many networks, including GLG, Prosapient, Guidepoint and Alphasights, will incentivize you to act conservatively in this way by reimbursing you for the full-time slot.

Expert Network Compliance Training and Monitoring Helps Keep Everyone Out of Trouble

It is incredibly rare for compliance failures to occur – let alone criminal activity – in the ordinary course of expert network consulting.

You will likely never face a situation where you feel pressured to give confidential information. This is for the very simple reason that clients are subject to the same insider trading laws as everyone else, and crossing the line is not worth the risk. Most firms also make a heavy investment in compliance, which in turn place a heavy scrutiny on expert network calls to keep both the firm and its employees out of trouble.

As with all things, it comes down to a combination of knowledge and common sense. Learn what you can and can’t share on an expert network call. Take your training, trust your senses, and when in doubt, play it safe.

Capvision Review

Have you been invited to participate in a paid consulting call with Capvision through LinkedIn or an email and are wondering whether it’s a legitimate opportunity or a potential scam? Our Capvision review will introduce you to this powerhouse Chinese expert network and explain how to land brief, high-paying consulting projects.

What is Capvision?

Capvision logo

Capvision is the largest expert network in China. It is part of a rapidly expanding $2 billion industry that facilitates primary research into products, companies and markets.  Capvision connects connects its clients – primarily financial services firms and management consultants – with experts in the field, such as doctors, scientists or businesspeople to help them set strategy, evaluate potential investments, or perform due diligence on a possible transaction. 

Expert network companies, like Capvision, recruit subject matter experts from a wide variety of industries to provide clients access to specific industry knowledge and insights. The client and the expert typically connect during a one hour ‘consulting call’, where the client will want to rapidly learn your perspective on how things really work in your field, get your opinion on key players, and your thoughts on how trends will play out.  Capvision arranges more than 150,000 consulting calls a year and pays experts an average of $230 per hour to speak with their clients!

Capvision was founded in 2008, and is the largest expert network in China by revenue, according to a study by Frost & Sullivan. The company has grown its top line by more than 30% annually over the past several, years, reaching 676 million RMB (approximately $106 million) during the first 9 months of 2021; it earned an enviable 199 million RMB ($31 million) during that period. The company filed to go public in Hong Kong during early 2021, but then paused those plans. It is expected to refresh the offering in 2022, raising an estimated $300 million.

The firm is headquartered in Shanghai, with offices in Beijing, Suzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Capvision entered the U.S. market in 2019 via an office in New York City. Though the U.S. currently contributes only 5% of total revenue, Capvision is growing quickly here and the IPO proceeds will help fund further expansion.

Is Capvision a scam or a legitimate opportunity?

Capvision experts by industry
Capvision facilitates a high volume of expert consulting calls across a wide variety of industries.

Capvision is not a scam.  The 14 year old company is China’s largest expert network, and it is rapidly expanding its presence in the United States. The company maintains relationships with 395,000 experts in China and the U.S., across a wide variety of industries, functions and experience levels. During the first nine months of 2021, Capvision facilitated a whopping 134,000 one-hour consulting calls between 37,000 of these experts and its 1,400 clients at prominent financial institutions, consulting firms and global corporations.

Capvision employs a small army of associates who are dedicated to recruiting experts to apply for client projects. Your introduction to Capvision will often be a LinkedIn message or email from one of these associates, inviting you to share your expertise with their client during a highly paid one-hour consulting call.  While this opportunity may sound too good to be true, it may just be your ticket an easy, engaging and lucrative source of secondary income. (Of course, it’s wise to be prudent when responding to strangers on the Internet.)  

One thing you should be cautious about is the company’s unusual use of exclusivity clauses in its agreements with its consultants. This can prevent you from working with other expert networks, significantly limiting your expert network consulting earning potential. Capvision has discontinued the use of exclusivity provisions in the United States, but it is still part of their standard agreement in China and other markets.

What to expect on a Capvision consulting call

Capvision’s clients want to rapidly take a deep dive into a topic and get perspectives with strong firsthand knowledge of a product, company or market. Clients are typically investment funds considering an investment or management consultants helping to formulate a strategy for their own clients. They to learn more from the people who know the research subject the best, so they turn to Capvision to connect them with former employees, customers, vendors, and competitors.

Expert networks like Capvision often endlessly search through Linked and their internal database to find prospective experts who may be a good fit for an active project. If you seem to match the criteria, a Capvision associate will reach out to you via LinkedIn, email or a phone call to invite you to briefly chat with them. During an introductory call (or email chain), they will tell you more about Capvision and the project, as well as learn a bit more about your background and qualifications.  Keep in mind that the associate generally has very limited knowledge of the topic that the client is researching – their main job is to find qualified experts.

If it looks like you may be a good fit for the client’s requirements, the associate will invite you to create an online profile with Capvision and provide a few short answers to questions about your experience with the research topic of the project.  In addition, the associate will ask you to set your hourly rate for the call (more on that in a moment!) and provide a handful of time slots that are convenient for you.  Creating your profile and applying for your first project may take 30 – 60 minutes of your time, but responding to future project invitations usually only requires 5 – 10 minutes of your time.

The associate will present your information, along with other profiles, to the client, who ultimately decides which experts they’d like to speak with.  If you’re selected, the associate will send you a calendar invite during one of the time slots that you provided. The timeframe from initial invitation to client call is generally just one or two weeks.

Whether or not you were selected for the project, you’ll probably start hearing from Capvision on a somewhat regular basis about additional projects where you may be a good fit. In the meantime, you can increase your chances of being chosen for a project by following these tips.

Setting Your Capvision Hourly Rate

Sharing your expertise via Capvision can pay quite well.  You’re providing valuable information that often is a meaningful factor in a multi-million dollar decision, so clients will gladly pay hundreds of dollars (or more) for an hour of your time without blinking an eye. The 100 most active experts with Capvision each earned over $30,000, on average, during 2021.

Experts who consult through Capvision charge hourly rates starting at $79 (500 RMB), with a few elite-level executives charging as much as $10,000! According to Capvision’s IPO prospectus, the average hourly rate in 2021 was $230 and 83% of experts received $236 or less. (At risk of stating the obvious, this means that 1 in 6 experts are charging more than $236/hour.)

There are a number of factors that go into setting your expert network consulting rate but the two that matter the most are how much of an authority are you on the topic and how many other people could they find with similar expertise.  For example, if the client is determined to speak with former senior finance executives of a specific company who left their position between 6 and 18 months ago and you are the only person who fits that criteria, you’ll have significant leverage in setting your rate.  On the other hand, if you have widely available experience, such as how to select and implement popular software packages, Capvision will likely only present experts with more modest hourly rates to the client.

So, with that, some rules of thumb in setting your rate:

For early career professionals, you’ll usually be able to land projects if you charge $100 – $200 per hour; director level or similar professionals can expect $200 – $300; more senior executives  often command rates of $350 – $700. To establish a bit of a track record, you may want to start out with a more moderate rate for your first few client calls and then seek a rate increase.

How to ace your Capvision consulting call

Capvision consulting calls are often engaging, concise and convenient. You’ve been selected for the project because the client is eager to get your insights and opinions on a topic that you already know extremely well, so you don’t need to do anything to prepare. And once you hang up the phone, your work on the project is done – there is no follow up and no deliverables.

Client calls tend to be highly conversational, and about work that you’ve been doing for years and likely know like the back of your hand.  What may seem like boring and mundane questions to you, such as how purchasing decisions are made or budgets get allocated, can be thrilling nuggets of information to the client.  

You’ll be asked to provide a bunch of available time slots for the client call when you apply for the project, and the associate will send you a calendar invite for a time that matches up with the client’s availability. Find a private space with a good phone or Internet connection to dial-in to the conference line for call. Capvision does not attend the calls, so it will just be you and the client (who may have several people on the line).

Prior to the call, you will be asked to review Capvision’s compliance policy and complete a brief online compliance training to ensure that you understand that no propriety or confidential information should be shared during the call.  At the start of the call, the client may read a disclosure statement to you and ask you to affirm that you agree to it, as well.  This is for both your protection and the client’s.    If you are unsure if a piece of information is ok to share, simply say so and they will gladly move on to the next question. 

The client will set the agenda for the call, which typically start with brief introductions. They’ll come prepared with specific questions for you, which are sometimes quite broad (‘talk to me about the main players in your industry’) or very specific (‘what factors went in to you choosing Vendor X vs. Vendor Y’).

Some clients already have deep expertise on the subject they’re speaking with you about, while in other cases you may be the starting point of their eduction. Give crisp, specific answers. Most clients love when you can provide precise numbers and they tend to lap up examples and rules of thumb. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to something if that’s the case – they don’t expect you to know everything and will simply skip to the next question on their list.

What’s Next?

Capvision pays experts via your choice of bank transfer, WeChat Pay or Alipay following completion of the client call. The company has a good online reputation prompt payments.

Once you’ve created a profile with Capvision, you’ll likely start receiving regular invitations to participate in additional projects.  Be sure to keep your profile up to date as you change jobs or add skills and expertise so that your name is at the top of the pile for the most relevant projects.

You can submit your profile to Capvision here.

FirstThought Review

Have you received a LinkedIn message, email or phone call inviting you to participate in a paid consulting opportunity with FirstThought?  Are you worried if this is a legitimate opportunity or just a scam? Our FirstThought review shares what to expect, how much you can earn and how to land high-paying hourly consulting projects with this upstart expert network.

What is FirstThought?

First Thought logo

FirstThought is an expert network, specializing in life sciences and healthcare. The company connects investors and management consultants performing in-depth research with experts in the field, such as physicians, researches, administrators from throughout the healthcare, insurance and therapeutics fields.  FirstThought’s network covers most aspects of life sciences and healthcare, including niche areas like market access, regulatory affairs, and reimbursement.

Like most expert networks, FirstThought’s primary way of connecting clients with industry experts is a one hour ‘consulting call’.  Clients will rapidly take a deep dive into the research topic during these calls to get your viewpoint on how things work, what your opinion is of key players, and your thinking on how trends will play out.  Rates FirstThought consulting calls usually start at several hundred dollars per hour and can climb significantly higher if you have specialized or hard to find expertise.  FirstThought also arranges paid surveys, events and more traditional consulting projects for its clients..

FirstThought was founded in 2020 by several alumni of Guidepoint, one of the largest expert networks. The company is headquartered in New York City and employs approximately 50 people, according to LinkedIn.

Is FirstThought a scam or a legitimate opportunity?

FirstThought is not a scam.  The two year old company is a fast growing expert network, which connects subject matter experts in the life sciences and healthcare industries with its clients such as investment managers and management consultants.

Your introduction to FirstThought will generally be through a call, email or LinkedIn message inviting you to participate in a high-paying consulting opportunity. While you should always perform due diligence on lucrative offers from strangers on the Internet (which may be what brings you to this FirstThought review!), working with FirstThought may be a great way to create a lucrative source of additional income by simply sharing your expertise.

What to expect if you consult with FirstThought

FirstThought’s suite of research and consulting services

FirstThought’s clients are performing primary research as part of an investment decision, due diligence process, or to formulate a new strategy. They want to speak with people who have deep first-hand knowledge of the product, company or market that they are looking at to help shape their thinking or get feedback on their hypothesis. Experts are typically former employs, customers, vendors, competitors, or key influencers (such as prescribing physicians) of the research subject. Clients will often want to speak with a handful of experts to get different perspectives.

Once a project has been created with FirstThought, an associate will start recruiting potential experts to speak with their client. LinkedIn tends to be the most popular tool for sourcing expert consultants.

If your profile seems to match what the client is looking for, the associate will reach out to you with a brief note, inviting to have a brief call so they can tell you more about FirstThought and the project they are working on, as well as learn about your qualifications and background.  Keep in mind that the associate usually has limited knowledge of the topic that the client is researching – they are mostly trying to gauge your fit with the client’s requirements.

If you’re interested in the opportunity and look like a good fit, there are three brief steps to formally apply for the project.

First, you’ll need to complete a brief profile about your background; this will help you land future projects with FirstThought as well. Expert networks want to know what you know aren’t terrible interested in your soft skills. So, unlike your resume, make sure you are very specific and liberally use keywords and product and company names. A good rule of thumb is that if you could give a quality 30 minute presentation on something (such as how you selected a vendor or allocate budget) you are likely qualified to participate in an expert network consulting call on this topic.

Next, there will be a few short screening questions about the project you are applying for. You just need a few sentences to answer these, but again be as specific as possible. The client will want to know that you have strong firsthand experience with the topic they want to speak with you about.

Finally, you’ll set your hourly rate for the call (more on that in a moment!) and provide a handful of time slots that are convenient for you. 

All of this should take you less than an hour, and once you’ve applied for your first project responding to additional invitations should only take you 5 – 10 minutes.

The associate will present your information, along with other profiles, to the client.  They’ll often select a number of people to talk to so that they get different perspectives.  If you’re selected, the associate will send you a calendar invite during one of the time slots you’ve provided and it’s off to the races.

Setting Your FirstThought Hourly Rate

Conversations with FirstThought clients tend to be interesting and engaging, plus it’s rewarding to be considered an expert. But what’s even more exciting is the high hourly rate you can charge for sharing your expertise!  Your insights will often help shape a multi-million dollar decision, so clients will gladly pay hundreds of dollars (or more) for an hour of your time.

The two key factors that go in to finding your ideal FirstThought rate are how much of an authority are you on the topic and how many other people could they can find who have similar expertise.  For example, if the client wants to speak with a former senior finance executive of a specific company and you are the only person who fits that criteria, you’ll have significant leverage in setting your rate.  However, if there are dozens or hundreds of people with similar expertise to you, then experts with more affordable rates will generally have a leg up in being assigned to the project (and the associate will often steer them in that direction).

While ever situation may differ a bit, here are some rules of thumb for setting your expert network consulting rate:

If you’re earlier in your career or have knowledge that’s easily found, you’ll usually be steered towards $100 – $200 per hour; director level or similar professionals can expect $200 – $300; very experienced professionals and senior executives  often charge rates of $350 – $700. Some experts can land projects at rates of $1,000 or more per hour, though these tend to be reserved for elite-level experts, such as Fortune 500 executives, specialized physicians or former elected officials. If you’re new to FirstThought or expert network consulting, it’s generally a good plan to put your rates towards the lower end of your target range to make it easier to land your first few projects. It’s not hard to negotiate a higher rate with just a short track record.

For paid surveys, you’ll be presented with the fee when you are invited to participate; $40 – $70 is typical for a 10 – 20 minute expert network survey.

How to ace your FirstThought consulting call

Consulting projects with expert networks like FirstThought are extremely concise and compact.  You provide your availability – which may include before or after work or during your lunch hour. Since you’re talking about what you’ve been doing day-in and day-out for years, you don’t need to do anything to prepare for the call, and once you hang up the phone, your work is done – there is no follow up and no deliverables.

Consulting calls tend to be very conversational, and about topics that you likely know like the back of your hand.  Many calls do deep dives into somewhat droll topics where your explanations can cause wide-eyed excitement for the client, such as purchasing decisions or budget allocation.  

The client will come the call with an agenda and a crisp set of questions for you. Calls will generally start with brief introductions and a couple minutes of small talk to build rapport. Generally, the client will want rapidly download your industry knowledge to help them confirm or challenge their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest.  Your insights are usually a key factor in a significant strategic or investment decision.

Prior to the call, you will be asked to review FirstThought’s compliance policy and brief compliance training to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call.  You’ll often be asked to affirm that you understand the compliance policy at the start of the call as well, and a member of the client’s compliance department may even listen in to the call or read a transcript after it is completed.

This is for both your protection and the client’s.  The entire expert network industry was nearly destroyed by a major insider trading scandal over a decade ago, which has fortunately led to the development of robust compliance policies and procedures.   Clients are tightly monitored by their own firms and don’t want to receive non-public information which could prohibit them from making a planned investment or lead to disciplinary action within their firm.  If you are ever unsure information is ok to share, simply say so and the client will simply move on to the next question. 

What’s Next?

FirstThought will process your payment shortly after you complete your call or survey – no clunky invoicing or chasing down multiple clients for payment. Be sure to keep your profile updated for additional consulting opportunities!

If you’d like to become a FirstThought expert and haven’t yet connected with an associate, you can indicate your interest here.

Secretive Expert Network Industry Sees Soaring Venture Capital Investment

Fat profits and innovative technology drive approximately $350 million of venture investment into the sector during 2021.

After years of soaring growth and hefty profits, the discrete expert network industry is suddenly one of the hottest sectors for venture capital investment.  Rapid industry growth, fat profit margins and a handful of noteworthy liquidity events are enabling a number of technology-focused upstarts to amass significant war chests. 

What are expert networks?

GLG consulting invite
Spend much time on LinkedIn and you’ll probably receive invitations to consult with expert networks like GLG, which recently filed to go public.

Expert networks facilitate deep and rapid research into a company, product or market by connecting their clients – mostly investment managers and management consulting firms – to ‘experts’ with significant and current knowledge of the research subject.  Expert network consulting is frequently used to shape investment decisions, conduct due diligence or set strategy recommendations.

The experts are usually former employees, customers, competitors or key influencers (such as doctors or former government officials) of the research topic.  The typical consulting project is a one hour call between the expert and the client, where the client will want to rapidly download the facts on the ground from people who know the company best.  

Many firms charge clients $1,000 or more to facilitate these consulting calls, with experts often earning hourly rates that can regularly exceed $500.  Many firms also regularly coordinate paid business surveys for clients.  (If you’ve spent much time on LinkedIn, you’ve probably been approached to participate in a paid consulting opportunity with an expert network company.)

The expert network industry was born in the late 90’s, with pioneers GLG and Primary Insights taking advantage of an SEC crackdown on the sell-side research practices of invest banks, following a number of scandals.  The firms grew rapidly by directly connecting investors with executives with firsthand knowledge of the companies that they were considering investing in.  However, the young expert networks soon found themselves at the center of several major insider trading trials and making unwanted headlines of their own.  

While these high-profile cases seemed likely to kill off the industry, it instead responded by building large compliance teams tasked with implementing more rigorous compliance policies and monitoring for clients.  Compliance became a feature to sell to clients (and help justify sky-high pricing).

The industry returned to steep growth over the next decade, with over 100 new firms sprouting around the world.  It remained mostly out of the public eye, with a just a handful of early stage venture capital investments or late stage private equity deals — until the dealmaking floodgates opened at the start of this year:

A dozen firms reported approximately $350 million in venture capital investment this year:

So what’s driving the sharp increase in venture capital dealmaking?

Most of the capital investment went to firms developing technology to better identify and source new experts and streamline the process of matching experts to client’s project criteria.  This should enable firms to scale without hiring armies of recent college grads to endlessly scour LinkedIn for qualified profiles.  Several firms are also shifting towards self-service marketplaces for clients to select and staff experts on their projects at a fraction of the cost of traditional expert networks.

While a new firm seems to now be born every week – many of them touting more competitive pricing – the industry remains enormously profitable.  Many firms still charge $1,000 per hour or more to speak with an expert.  GLG, the largest firm in the industry, revealed eye-popping 73% gross margins in its recent S-1 filing.

The expert network industry reached $1.9 billion in revenue in 2021.  It has recorded double digit growth annually since 2015, with growth accelerating to 20% during 2021.  Two expert networks made the top 20 list of the highest paid investment research providers for the first time this year.  Meanwhile, a number of firms continue to make inroads into the corporate strategy market, which dwarfs the size of the industry’s traditional investment manager and management consultant customer bases.

While most firms in the industry have long been closely held, several firms established a path to liquidity in 2021.  GLG recently filed for an IPO, where it expects to raise $100 million, and Capvision has also filed to go public on the Hong Kong stock exchange in early 2022.  VisasQ debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2020 and recently acquired industry stalwart Coleman Research for $102 million, perhaps kicking off a long awaited bout of industry consolidation.

Techspert.io Review

Have you received an invitation to participate in a paid consulting opportunity with techspert.io via an email, phone call or LinkedIn message?  Wondering if this is a legitimate opportunity or perhaps a scam? Our Techspert.io review will shed some light on what to expect and how to land high paying hourly consulting projects.

What is Techspert.io?

techspert.io logo

Techspert.io is an expert network – a rapidly growing industry that facilitates primary research into products, companies and markets.  Techspert.io connects investors and management consultants looking to quickly perform in-depth research with experts in the field, such as doctors, scientists or businesspeople.  

Like many expert networks, techspert.io’s primary product offering is the one hour ‘consulting call’ between the client and the subject matter expert.  During these calls, the client will want to rapidly take a deep dive to gain your perspective on how things work, get your opinion on key players, and your thoughts on how trends will play out.  Rates for an hour of your time on a techspert.io consulting call generally start at several hundred dollars per hour and soar substantially beyond that for highly accomplished or in-demand experts.  The company also facilitates paid surveys.

Based in Cambridge, England by two University of Cambridge alumni, Graham Mills and David Holden-White, both of whom started their careers in life sciences.  The firm was originally named Biotechspert, reflecting its focus on biotechnology and healthcare.  However, it rebranded itself techspert.io as its industry coverage broadened. 

techspert.io is one of several emerging expert networks (along with Atheneum, proSapient and NewtonX) that tout their use of artificial intelligence to better identify potential experts and categorize their areas expertise.  

In 2021, techspert.io announced a $12 million funding round from BGF and Nauta Capital; this follows $6 million in previous venture capital investment.  The company claims to have recorded more than 150% annual growth in 2021 and recently opened its first international office, in Texas.

Is techspert.io a scam or a legitimate opportunity?

techspert.io is not a scam.  The six year old company is a rapidly growing expert network, which connects its clients – typically investors or management consultants – with subject matter experts.

Most commonly, your introduction to techspert.io will be an email or LinkedIn message from an associate, asking you to participate in a highly paid one hour phone call their client.  While this opportunity may sound too good to be true (and you should always use caution when responding to strangers on the internet), it may just be your ticket an easy, engaging and lucrative source of secondary income.  

Occasionally, you may receive a project invitation that seems wildly off-the-mark, which some have dubbed ‘techspert.io project spam’.  The company relies heavily on its AI software to source experts, though it sometimes produces inaccurate results.  Some simple fine-tuning to your LinkedIn profile can help reduce project spam and help you get noticed for more high-paying project opportunities with techspert.io and other expert networks.

What to expect if you consult with techspert.io

techspert.io reviews
techspert.io has garnered mostly positive online reviews

techspert.io’s AI software continuously scans a wide range of online data sources to identify potential experts and categorize their expertise.  The company claims to have over 200 million experts in its network, though it has likely interacted with just a tiny fraction of a percentage point of them. While it may incorporate data from a large variety of sources, LinkedIn is still probably the most important and likely the venue where an associate will first try to connect with you.

If it looks like you may be a good fit for an active project, the associate invite you to a brief phone call to tell you a bit more about techspert.io and the project they are working on, as well as learn a bit more about your background and qualifications.  Keep in mind that the associate generally has very limited knowledge of the topic that the client is researching.

If you’re interested and it looks like you may be a good fit for the client’s requirements, the associate will invite you to fill out a profile and project questionnaire, where you’ll need to provide specific one or two sentence answers about your experience with the research topic of the project.  In addition, the associate will ask you to set your hourly rate for the call (more on that in a moment!) and provide a handful of time slots that are convenient for you.  It may take you an hour or so to set up a profile and apply for your first project, but from there responding to additional invitations should only take you 5 – 10 minutes.

The associate will present your information, along with other profiles, to the client.  They’ll often select a number of people to talk to so that they get different perspectives.  If you’re selected, the associate will send you a calendar invite during one of the time slots you’ve provided and it’s off to the races.

If you weren’t selected for the project, don’t worry— now that your profile is in the techspert.io system, you’re more likely to be contacted for future projects. In the meantime, you can increase your chances of being chosen for a project by following these tips.

Setting Your Techspert.io Hourly Rate

One of the most appealing parts of consulting for techspert.io is the high hourly rates that you can charge.  You’re providing valuable information that often is a meaningful factor in a multi-million dollar decision, so clients will gladly pay hundreds of dollars (or more) for an hour of your time without blinking an eye.

There are a number of factors that go into the rate that clients are willing to pay to speak with you, but the two key ones are how much of an authority are you on the topic and how many other people could they find with similar expertise.  If they are determined to speak with a former senior finance executive of a specific company and you are the only person who fits that criteria, you’ll have significant leverage in setting your rate.  However, if there are dozens or hundreds of people with similar expertise to you, the client will usually look to speak with experts with more affordable rates (and the associate will often steer them in that direction).

So, with that, some rules of thumb:

For early career professionals, you’ll generally land the assignment at $100 – $200 per hour; director level or similar professionals can expect $200 – $300; more senior executives  often command rates of $350 – $700. Some experts can command fees of  $1000 or more an hour, however, those rates are uncommon and are generally only available to elite-level experts, such as Fortune 500 executives, specialized surgeons or former elected officials. It’s not a bad plan to start out at a more moderate rate to build a little bit of a track record, then negotiate a higher rate for further calls.

For paid surveys, you’ll be presented with the fee when you are invited to participate; $40 – $70 is typical for a 10 – 20 minute survey.

How to ace your techspert.io consulting call

One of the best part of consulting with techspert.io is that your work requirements are extremely concise and compact.  You don’t need to do anything to prepare (though infrequently clients will send you something to review and discuss on the call) and once you hang up the phone, your work is done – there is no follow up and no deliverables.

Calls tend to be highly conversational, and about work that you’ve been doing for years and likely know like the back of your hand.  What may be droll and mundane for you, such as talking about purchasing decisions or budget allocation, can be thrilling nuggets of information for the client.  

You can expect that the client has come prepared with specific questions as a result of their own in-depth research on the topic they’ve contracted you to speak on. Clients use expert networks to rapidly download industry knowledge (via your many years of experience!) in order to confirm or challenge their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest.  Your insights are usually a key component of a strategic or investment decision.

Prior to the call, you will be asked to review techspert.io’s compliance policy and brief compliance training to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call.  You’ll often be asked to affirm that you understand the compliance policy at the start of the call as well.  

This is for both your protection and the client’s.  Though the expert network industry was marred by a major insider trading scandal over a decade ago, it has long since developed stringent compliance policies and procedures.   Clients are tightly monitored by their own firms and don’t want to receive non-public information which could prohibit them from making a planned investment or lead to disciplinary action within their firm.  If you are unsure if a piece of information is ok to share, simply say so and they will gladly move on to the next question. 

What’s Next?

Techspert.io payments are made via ACH via TransferWise.  The company has a good online reputation for prompt payments.

You’ll likely start receiving invitations to participate in additional techspert.io calls and surveys.  Be sure to keep your profile up to date so that your name is at the top of the pile for the most relevant projects.

If you’re not already working with techspert.io and would like to join their expert database, you can register as an expert here.

Maven Research Review

Has Maven Research reached out to you via LinkedIn, email or phone call with an invitation to participate in a paid consulting engagement? Wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity? Here’s what to expect, what rate to charge, and how to land high paying micro-consulting opportunities.

What is Maven Research?

Maven Research logo

Maven Research bills itself as “the world’s largest micro consulting company.” Maven connects professionals with deep expertise in a product, company or market with clients – generally investors or management consultants – who are conducting deep research into that topic.

Though Maven works hard to brand itself as ‘not an expert network‘ it’s hard to find much differentiation between Maven’s approach and the traditional expert network model. The firms recruiters generally seek out qualified experts for client projects from the firm’s database, LinkedIn, referral and other sources, inviting them to participate in a brief 1:1 phone calls with their client. Experts tend to be former employees, customers, competitors, or influencers (such as doctors or former government employees) with strong and current first-hand knowledge of the research subject. Experts can often hundreds of dollars per hour for participating in client calls (more on setting your Maven consulting rate in a moment!) without any need to prepare or follow up.

Maven Research also offers paid surveys, and occasionally larger projects.

Founded in 2008, Maven Research is a solid mid-tier expert network with offices in San Francisco and Portsmouth, New Hampshire (editor’s note: my absolute favorite New England town!). Though it has much smaller project volume than industry heavyweights GLG or Guidepoint Global, in-demand experts do receive a handful of call and survey invites from Maven each year.

The company raised $1 million in a seed round financing back in 2010, led by vaunted venture capital firm Accel Partners. Cofounders Mark Platosh and Wyatt Nordstrom still lead the company.

Is Maven Research a scam— or a legitimate opportunity?

Maven Research has been around for more than a dozen years. It is a legitimate company, and certainly not a scam. Maven is one of the more established firms in the soaring expert network industry, which comprises several hundred firms around the globe and is expected to generate $1.9 billion in annual revenue.

Maven Research reviews

While Maven Research is not a scam, it has a growing reputation for problems with its payment processes that are worth noting. Maven recently introduced a third party identity verification process, as a condition for paying experts, that does not function well. (While online identity verification is becoming more common, I have not been asked to verify myself with any other expert network.). I have personally been unable to complete the verification process successfully, which has blocked my payments, and note a meaningful number of online complaints about similar experiences. Maven’s customer service is overly automated, and did not help me resolve the problem despite several email exchanges; it is challenging to find a support phone number for Maven. Responses posted to similar online complaints, purportedly by Maven’s CEO, have been juvenile and dismissive.

What to expect if you consult with Maven Research

Your first introduction to Maven is often via a message on LinkedIn, where an associate will try to pique your interest with an invitation to participate in a paid consultation request. While being offered a high hourly consulting rate to just have a brief phone call with a client can should too good to be true, working with expert networks like Maven is the rare exception to that rule! (If you’re looking to attract more of these opportunities, check out our recommendations for optimizing your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being recruited for a project by expert networks.)

Maven associates will generally want to schedule a brief call with you to introduce themselves, the firm, and the project. If you’re interested and a good fit with the project, you’ll be invited to create a profile on the Maven platform and answer a few short screening questions about the project. The screening questions help the associate (and ultimately the client) gauge your fit for the project. Your answer to each question just needs to be a thoughtful sentence or two demonstrating your familiarity with the subject of the call.

You will be asked to review a compliance document to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to specify your hourly consulting rate and provide your availability for a client call.

The Maven associate will submit your profile and responses to the client for their review. If the client would like to speak with you, you will receive a calendar invitation for the call during one of the time slots that you provided. The entire process from initial invitation to client call generally takes about a week.

Setting Your Maven Research Consulting Rate

One of the most enticing parts of expert network consulting with a firm like Maven Research is the lofty rates that you can charge! While the associate will likely provide some guidance on where to set your rate, your pricing is ultimately up to you. You deliver highly concentrated and valuable knowledge during these calls, so don’t be afraid to reflect that in your rate, though you should try to get some sense of where you are pricing yourself out of the opportunity.

Scarcity (how many other people have similar experience and expertise), recency and seniority are the key factors in how the expert network and its clients will view your rate.

If you are an early career professional, $100 – $200 per hour is a typical starting point. Director level professionals can expect to charge $200 – $300, while Vice President and C-level executives frequently command rates of $300- $500+. Some networks boast of paying experts $1,000 an hour or more, though that rate is usually only accessible by elite level professionals, such as Fortune 500 CFOs, former elected officials or highly specialized physicians.

For paid surveys, Maven Research usually offers a flat rate of $40 – $70 for a 10 – 20 minute online survey.

How to ace your Maven Research consulting call

Getting paid a high rate to share your expert opinion can sound intimidating, but you’ll often find calls to be quite easy and engaging. You don’t need to prepare for calls – the client wants to know about the area you’ve been working in for years. Things that seem mundane or even droll to you, like how you allocate budget or make a purchasing decision, can often be fascinating nuggets of information to clients who are trying to understand how a business really works.

The format of most calls is highly conversational, and you should be able to easily answer most questions without giving them too much thought. (And when you don’t know the answer, that is a perfectly acceptable answer as well. Don’t make things up!).

Importantly, be sure not to share confidential or non-public information during the call. Maven will provide you compliance guidelines before your client interaction to help you better understand what is and isn’t permissible, and it is extremely rare for clients to press you for your information that you are uncomfortable providing. Strict compliance standards and monitoring have been key helping the expert network industry move past a massive insider trading scandal during its nascent years.

The client will lead the conversation and come prepared with specific questions. Occasionally you’ll be their initial conversation about the research topic, but more typically they have already invested quite a bit of time and are looking to you to help them affirm or debunk an idea. Clients use expert networks like Maven Research to rapidly download industry knowledge and help with their  understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment or other strategic decision.

What’s next?

Hang up the phone, and your work is done. There is no follow up required and nothing to deliver to the client. Payments are handled via a request on Maven’s online system, which as noted above does have some recent issues for some consultants. Maven’s payment policy is a bit complex, but the bottom line is that you’ll usually receive payment within four weeks of completing your client call.

With your first call under belt, keep an eye peeled for additional survey and consulting opportunities from Maven. You can also browse their online portal occasionally to find additional opportunities that you may wish to apply for.

If you’d like to get started as an expert with Maven Research, you can create a profile here.

Arbolus Technologies Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Arbolus Technologies via LinkedIn, email or phone call with an invitation to participate in a paid consulting engagement? Are you wondering if it’s a scam, or a legitimate opportunity? Our Arbolus Technologies review details what to expect, and how to land high paying hourly consulting projects.

What is Arbolus Technologies?

Arbolus consulting logo

Arbolus is an expert network, a custom recruiting firm focused on connecting subject matter experts (SMEs) with institutional investor clients looking to better understand an industry, company, or product. Expert networks typically rely on LinkedIn and company websites to identify current & former employees, competitors, customers, and key opinion leaders who can add value to a client’s market research via their professional experience and opinions. A subject matter experts’ expertise is typically rapidly downloaded via a 45 minute to 1-hour call with the client. Working with Arbolus, and other expert networks, can be a lucrative alternative stream of income, requiring little to no preparation, that can be scheduled around your existing employment or other responsibilities.

Founded originally as CiQ Group in 2017, the firm was rebranded as Arbolus Technologies in 2019. Arbolus was founded by two managers from AlphaSights, Sam Glasswell and Will Leeming. The firm has been experiencing rapid growth, acquiring Waterside, another budding expert network, in 2019. The Barcelona-based firm also maintains offices in London and New York, and raised $6M in venture capital investment from Fuel Ventures and Plug & Play Ventures in 2021

Arbolus transcribes calls between clients and experts, adding them to a library that is available to its entire client base.  (Other emerging expert networks, such as Tegus, proSapient and Stream by Mosaic offer a similar product to clients.)  Experts do not receive additional compensation if clients access transcripts of their calls.

In addition to traditional expert network services, Arbolus operates a software platform called Hyperion that utilizes machine learning and NLP for higher quality and more efficient matching of clients and experts. Their platform allows clients to stay connected with experts they have worked with on previous projects, as well as access reviews and client call history for experts in order to develop a sense of trust and connectedness to expert connections.

Is Arbolus Technologies a scam— or a legitimate opportunity?

Arbolus — and expert networks in general — are not a scam. Expert networks are a $1.9B industry, and typically serve as a professional service for the financial services industry by sourcing subject matter experts for their clients. Arbolus serves a wide variety of clients, from start-ups & corporations to consultancies, hedge funds, and private equity.

Typically, associates from an expert network will use LinkedIn, or publicly available contact information such as email or phone number, to recruit potential experts for a project. You can optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being recruited for a project by expert networks. Expert networks are an extension of the gig economy and are a great way to monetize your professional experience!

What to expect if you consult with Arbolus Technologies

Arbolus consulting reviews

Recruiters for expert networks rely heavily on LinkedIn to identify potential experts for a project based on their employment history. If, based on your LinkedIn profile, the associate believes you could be a good fit, they will reach out you with a brief introduction to themselves, their firm, and the project.

If you’re interested and think you could contribute to the topic, the associate will invite you to fill out a profile and questionnaire on their platform. The profile will cover all the basic questions about your employment history and expertise, in addition to project-specific vetting questions. For the vetting questions, you should know that the associate is not expecting the type of in-depth answer that the client would like to have in the call. Instead, your answers should be a sentence or two demonstrating your knowledge and ability to speak to the topics of interest. You will be asked to review a compliance document to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call. You will also be able to set your rate and availability at this time.

The Arbolus associate will then submit your profile to the client for review. If the client chooses to move forward with your profile, you will receive a calendar invitation with dial-in information for the call. While the review and scheduling process usually takes only a few days, it can take up to two weeks. 

If you don’t receive a calendar invitation within a week or two, it’s safe to say your profile was not chosen. Don’t worry— now that your profile is in the Arbolus system, you’re more likely to be contacted for future projects. In the meantime, you can increase your chances of being chosen for a project by following these tips.

Arbolus Hourly Rates

Arbolus— and other expert networks— compensate you for your time and expertise spent on a client project. Sometimes, a starting rate will be communicated to you in the initial reach out. Othertimes, it will be communicated to you in subsequent reach outs. 

In general, you can expect the hourly rate to depend on a variety of factors, including the scarcity of your expertise (how many other experts can discuss the topic intelligently?), how far removed you are from the topic (how many years has it been since you were in the industry?), and how far you are in your career. 

For early career professionals, you can expect to be offered $100- $200; director level or similar professionals can expect $200-$300; anything above director level can easily command rates of $300- $500. Some experts can command fees of  $1000 or more an hour, however, these professionals are often expert network veterans who are at the top of hot or niche industries, or executives at Fortune 500 companies. You can also negotiate a higher rate for further calls.

Setting your rate exceptionally high can also dissuade a client from moving forward with your profile, even if you are a good fit for the project. This is most common in situations where there are many potential experts who can speak to a topic.

Most expert networks will compensate you based on the amount of time you are in the call. This means that even after you negotiate your hourly rate, if you are on the call for less than 60 full minutes, your fee will be pro-rated based on the number of minutes you are in the call with the client. Therefore, it’s best to keep the call going for as long as you can so you can maximize your fee. Similarly, you will be compensated for time spent on the call beyond the agree-upon hour. An extra 15 minutes on a call can easily translate to a higher fee via Arbolus!

How to ace your Arbolus consulting call

You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on years of experience in your industry. 

You can expect that the client has come prepared with specific questions as a result of their own in-depth research on the topic they’ve contracted you to speak on. Clients use expert networks to rapidly download industry knowledge (via your many years of experience!) in order to confirm or complicate their  understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment or strategic movement. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will likely be institutional investors (strategy consulting firms, hedge funds, private equity funds, etc.), however, Arbolus also offers services to corporate and start-up clients. You should know that financial services clients are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary or confidential information. Client calls are likely always recorded by Arbulus in order to be made available to customers of their platform, so you can expect that the call will be reviewed internally to ensure compliance. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.

What’s Next?

Arbolus payments are made via ACH, wire, or physical check. You should be prompted to enter your payment information immediately after the call.

Now that you’re part of the network, you can use the Arbolus platform to participate in further calls by keeping your information up to date and periodically checking in.

If you have not yet been contacted by an Arbolus associate, you can register as an expert on their platform here.

Mosaic Research Management Review

Have you been contacted by an Associate from Mosaic Research Management or Stream Research Group with a request to participate in a paid consulting opportunity? Earning a high hourly rate for simply speaking on the phone with a client can sound too good to be true – are you worried it may be a scam?  Learn if this is a legitimate opportunity, what to expect, where to set your hourly rate and more in our Mosaic Research Management review.

What is Mosaic Research Management?

Mosaic Research Management logo

Mosaic Research Management is an expert network, a firm that specializes in the custom sourcing of subject matter experts for short-term consulting engagements. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that aids institutional investors in their market research. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client, typically investment managers or management consultants.  

Clients turn to expert networks like Mosaic to quickly perform first-hand research on products, companies or markets for the people who know them best, such as former employees, customers, vendors, competitors, or other key influencers.  Working with expert networks is a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, enabling you to earn hundreds of dollars per hour by participating in concise and convenient consulting calls with their clients.

Mosiac is a mid-sized, New York-based expert network that provides various services in addition to the subject matter expert recruitment that is the industry standard: data services, and an expert network vendor management & aggregation tool, similar to proSapient.  The firm specializes in healthcare, travel & airlines, retail & consumer, web & online analytics, and social engagement.

Mosaic was founded in 2010 by former employees of Vista Research, an early pioneer in the industry that was taken down by an insider trading scandal in 2007 and which was later absorbed by Guidepoint.

Consulting with Mosaic Research Management

If you’ve been contacted by an associate from Mosaic, then it’s likely that you are a mid- to senior-level industry professional with specific company, product, or industry experience that matches what a client is looking for on a project.  Oftentimes, a Mosaic recruiter will reach out to you with a brief message via LinkedIn, though they will occasionally introduce themselves via email or a phone call as well.

You’ll usually be invited to have a brief conversation with the associate, where they’ll introduce you to Mosaic and provide a very high level overview of the project.  While they will share the topic of the project with you, you won’t know the client’s name until you’ve been selected for the project.  If you’re interested and it sounds like you may be a potential fit, the associate will ask you a few short vetting questions to gauge your qualifications, and just as importantly, ensure that you are eligible to participate without triggering any compliance concerns.

Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:

  • You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years out of a job where you were a senior manager (Director level or higher) at a company their client is trying to learn more about.
  • You currently (or formerly) work for a competitor of a company the client is looking to learn more about.
  • You are currently or were formerly a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.

The associate isn’t looking to learn about what you’ll share about the project’s topic, they want to make sure that you match with the client’s requirements.  If it seems like you may fit the bill, they will then ask you to set your Mosaic hourly rate (more on that in a moment!), provide your upcoming availability and create a profile.

Behind the scenes, the associate will present your profile, rate and screening question responses to the client.  If they client selects you for the project, they associate will usually send you a calendar invite for your client call.  Note that industrywide, it’s typical to only be selected for about one-third of the projects that you apply to.  So, even if you don’t get chosen for this project, participating in the initial vetting process registers your profile in their system and increases the likelihood you will be selected for future projects.

Stream by Mosaic / Stream Research Group

Stream by Mosaic invitation to consult

Mosaic also operated an unusual subscription business to expert interview transcripts called Mosaic Stream up until October 2021, when it sold the business to business information service AlphaSense (not to be confused with the large expert network AlphaSights).  AlphaSense has rebranded the business as Stream by Mosaic (though it also seems to be using Stream Research Group at times), describing it as the, “the broadest of single database of [recorded and transcribed expert calls] with dozens of transcripts added daily and with hundreds of investment firms relying on the insights they contain.”

I was invited to participate in Mosaic Stream earlier in 2021 and do not recommend participating in this program in its current form.

Rather than speak with a client for Mosaic Stream, your call is instead with a third party analyst.  The call is recorded and transcribed, then made available to Mosaic’s client base.  The analyst that I recorded with call with was engaging and well-prepared; my conversation flowed like a typical expert network call.

Experts are not paid for participating in Mosaic Stream calls, though the analyst is compensated for interviewing you.  According to the invitation I received from Mosaic, “This conversation with our partner analyst is intended to allow you to market your expertise to a group of Mosaic’s clients who value speaking with experts about [the target company and industry].”

I didn’t receive any follow up updates from Mosaic Stream following the call.  I wasn’t provided with any information on how Mosaic ‘marketed’ me as an expert, and several months passed before I was invited to participate in another project (which isn’t atypical of my experience with Mosaic).  I contributed a piece of content to Mosaic Stream’s high-priced content library without receiving any compensation or perceived benefit.  (Note that Tegus, Arbolus and proSapient offer similar transcript subscription products where you are paid for all consulting calls.)

Update as of January 2022: Mosaic reached out to me in response to this review to insist my experience with Stream was an anomaly that they apologized for and that they are working hard to improve the expert experience, including compensating experts for Stream interviews in some cases.

Mosaic Consulting Rates

Consulting rates for expert networks vary widely and are determined by a variety of factors, such as the seniority and how recent your relevant title is, how niche the industry is, and demand for your insight. In general, you can expect to be offered a Mosaic consulting rate of $100 – $200  per hour if you are a director level or below, $200 – $350 or above for director-level professional, and $500+ for senior executives and physicians. 

While these rates are pretty standard, you should know that you can renegotiate your rate if you find you are getting inundated by project participation requests. Many C-level executives with a history of successful calls command rates of $500. Some in-demand experts (think Fortune 500 executives, former government officials or specialized surgeons) charge as much as $1,000 – $1,500 a call, but you should know that it is not common and demanding a super high rate right away will likely mean your profile will never be sent to the client. 

It’s important to keep in mind that your Mosaic hourly rate will be pro-rated based on the amount of time that spend on the phone with the client, so it’s in your best interest to keep the conversation flowing freely. If the client is eager to learn more and asks you to extend the call by 10 or 15 minutes, you may easily earn an extra $50 or $100.  Conversely, calls that take less than an hour are pro-rated downwards.  Expert network calls typically last 45 minutes to an hour.

Acing Your Mosaic Consulting Call

Ready for showtime?  Your client call will often happen just a few days after you received the initial invitation.  Mosaic will send you information on a conference call line.  Most expert network calls continue to be voice-only – so no need to dress up or find a professional-looking background – but do be sure to find a quiet place to talk with a stable phone or internet connection.

The client will open the call with a brief introduction, an overview of their objectives, and will then take the lead in steering the conversation.  They are looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or refute their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment. The client has usually done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will be institutional investors (strategy consulting firms, hedge funds, private equity funds, etc.) and are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary or confidential information. This policy should also be laid out to you in a document prior to the call, so you understand what you can and cannot discuss in the call. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.

You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on the years of experience that you have in your role and industry.

What’s Next?

One of the best part of consulting with Mosaic Research is that once you hang up the phone, your work is done.  There is no follow-up or deliverables, and Mosaic will pay you via direct deposit within a week or two. 

Now that you’re part of the Mosaic expert network, don’t be surprised if you are regularly contacted for many more projects. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience.

If you haven’t already been contacted by Mosaic Research Management about a project, you can get on their radar and create a profile by reaching out an an associate at [email protected]

Tegus Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Tegus inviting you to participate in paid consultation request? Wondering what’s involved, how much you can earn, or if this is a legitimate opportunity or a scam? Our comprehensive Tegus review will show you what to expect and how to land high-paying projects.

What is Tegus?

Tegus logo
Tegus is named after a South American lizard.

Tegus is an expert network, a type of firm that recruits and connects subject matter experts with clients doing deep research on a product, company or market. These experts are sourced from countless industries and at all levels of experience. They are typically former employees, customers, competitors, or key influencers of the business that the client is researching.

Tegus’s typical consulting project is a 45 – 60 minute call between the client and the expert, where the client wants to rapidly learn the ‘facts on the ground’ from people with significant hands-on experience. Working with expert network consulting with firms like Tegus can be an attractive source of extra income, since the firm offers high hourly rates, schedules calls at times that are convenient to the consultant, and projects are usually extremely concise with no preparation or follow up required.

While some expert networks have a broader client focus, Tegus works exclusively with investors, such as hedge fund and mutual fund managers, and venture capitalists. Tegus claims to have facilitated over 20,000 client calls on its website, and is currently arranging more than 900 each month. In an unusual twist on the expert network model, transcripts of most Tegus client calls are made available to its entire client base.

Tegus was founded in 2016 by Michael Elnick, a former AlphaSights associate, and his brother Thomas Elnick; the two serve as Co-Founders and Co-CEOs. The company raised a $90 million Series B funding round led by Oberndorf Enterprises and Willoughby Capital in November 2021 and $1.5 million in venture capital investment in 2017. In late 2021, the company acquired acquire BamSEC, a platform that makes it easy to access and work with SEC filings and earnings transcripts.

Tegus is based in Chicago, with a European office in Waterford, Ireland. The company has over 300 employees to service its more than 1,000 clients.

Is Tegus legitimate — or a scam?

A Tegus consulting request can sound too good to be true. A stranger reaches out to you on the Internet – often via LinkedIn – praising your expertise and offering to pay you hundreds of dollars an hour for simply having a brief phone call with their client.

While you should always be cautious about people reaching out with unsolicited offers (Tegus will never ask you for payment to participate in consulting projects!), Tegus is not a scam. It’s part of the rapidly growing expert network industry that encompasses nearly 200 firms around the world which are collectively soaring past $2 billion in annual revenue. If you’re looking for a way to leverage your experience and expertise, an invitation to work with Tegus may be your entryway to the easy and lucrative world of expert network consulting.

What to expect if you consult with Tegus

Tegus employs a small army of recruiters who spend their days searching for experts who fit the criteria for client project requests. LinkedIn is their favorite hunting ground, so if your profile seems to match what they’re looking for, they’ll often reach out via LinkedIn messenger, email or a phone call to introduce you to Tegus and provide a brief overview of the consulting opportunity.

If you’re interested and look like a fit, you’ll be asked to create a profile on the Tegus platform and answer a few short screening questions about your qualifications for the project, which generally requires a few sentences about your relevant work experience knowledge of and relationship to the subject of the call. You’ll also be asked a few yes/no compliance questions to ensure that you are permitted to speak about this topic and meet the compliance requirements set by both Tegus and the client. You’ll then have the opportunity to set your Tegus hourly rate (more on that in a moment!) and provide a list of times for a client call that are convenient for you. Getting set up with Tegus should only take 20 – 30 minutes of your time, and then you’ll only need a few minutes to respond to additional consulting project invitations in the future.

The Tegus associate will then present your profile, screening answers, rate and availability to the client. If they’d like to speak with you, the associate will send out a calendar invite for the call. From initial contact to client call often takes less than one week. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not selected for the first project that you apply for – landing about 1/3 of the relevant projects that you respond to is typical with expert networks. Refining your profile and answers to screening projects can help improve your success rate.

Tegus business model
Tegus’s unique business model seems to be successful!

Tegus has an unusual business and pricing model for its clients. For most calls, the client just pays a $75 markup on the expert’s consulting fee; this compares to rates of $1,000 or more for a consulting call at firms like GLG. This fee includes sourcing and managing the expert, compliance checks and monitoring, and recording and transcription.

Tegus earns most of its revenue by selling access to its platform, that includes a rapidly growing library of over 20,000 client call transcripts. Approximately two weeks after your call, the transcript will be published and available to all Tegus clients on its platform. (Access to the platform starts at roughly $20,000 per year so transcripts are not shared publicly!) Your employment history and bio will be included in the transcript, but your name will be redacted. You do not receive any additional compensation for other clients accessing the transcript of your call. (Arbolus and proSapient offer clients access to similar transcript libraries, also without additional compensation to the expert, while Stream by Mosaic has an even less attractive compensation model for some calls – $0.)

Tegus Hourly Rates

How much should I ask for? How much can I ask for?

Expert networks like Tegus often pique your interest by touting hourly rates in the hundreds of dollars or more, and the ability for you to name your own price. Some in-demand experts, like Fortune 500 executives or specialized surgeons, do regularly command $1,000 hourly rates or even higher. However, for those whose resumes aren’t quite platinum-status yet, you’ll generally want to aim for typical bands within the industry.

For non-managers or people earlier in their career, a $100 – $200 hourly rate is usually the starting point. Your Tegus hourly rate can quickly climb to $200 – $350 for director-level employees or professionals with strong credentials, such as doctors or engineers. Vice Presidents and C-level executives at mid-sized firms can often achieve $500 hourly rates or a bit more. The typical rate for Tegus consultants is $300 per hour, according an interview with the Co-CEO. Rates are pro-rated to the length of the client call, so a 45 minute call will only yield you 75% of your hourly consulting rate, while your meter keeps running on a good conversation that extends beyond an hour.

Keep in mind that scarcity certainly plays a role in your rate and odds of being selected for a project. If the client wants to speak with users of a popular software package where hundreds of potential experts can easily be sourced, you may be passed over for lower cost consultants. However, if the client wants to speak with senior finance managers who recently worked at a particular company you may be the only game in town and have leverage to command a higher rate.

You may want to set your rate towards the lower end of your target band until you’ve landed your first couple of projects and established a reputation. It’s then easier to negotiate a higher hourly rate with Tegus for future projects.

How to ace your Tegus consulting call

Client calls tend to be easy and engaging conversations. It’s always nice to be considered an expert in something, and things that can be banal to you, such as how you set budgets or make purchasing decisions, can be valuable information to clients that generates unexpected enthusiasm!

Most client calls are centered on a particular company, industry, or product. The client is not expecting you to prepare a presentation or deliverable for the call; they are looking to rapidly download industry knowledge via your many years of experience. You can expect that clients have done their own basic research, reviewed publicly available information, and perhaps heard a management presentation prior to speaking with you. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business.

Oftentimes, the client is researching a particular company, especially those with a recent IPO, major announcement or volatile stock price. The client will be eager to learn your honest opinion about the company’s prospects, ability to execute, and management quality. Common questions will be about how the target company compares to its competitors, product and feature differentiation, pricing strategy, quality of management, etc. These types of calls will often resolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you worked with frequently, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decisions.

You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call – the client often wants to learn about something you’ve been doing regularly for years.. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. Be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients are usually quite skilled at parsing fact from fiction, and manufactured answers can quickly result in a short call, if not a short career with an expert network.

It’s important to note that you will never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information during a client call, and doing so can be illegal in more extreme cases. One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t exchanged on a client call, with both parties bound by strict compliance standards (which you will receive prior to the call). All client calls are recorded by Tegus and reviewed by its compliance team (and often the client’s compliance team as well) to ensure that no improper information is shared. Clients are often very well versed in compliance requirements and strictly adhere to them so they are not prohibited from pursuing an investment idea or.

What’s Next?

Tegus payment options include ACH (US-only), wire, physical check, or PayPal. After you complete a call, you will be prompted to provide payment preference and details. (Be wary of anyone asking you to provide account information prior to your first call – be sure to confirm that they are indeed a Tegus employee.). Payments are issued within 15 days of the client call.

Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for participation in new projects, especially as you build a history of completing successful client calls.

Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your experience. If you’ve been contact by a Tegus associate, you’ve already been identified as a good potential fit for an active project. Otherwise, Tegus does not offer online registration but you can contact Tegus here to express your interest in working with them.

What is an Expert Network?

Quietly, a secretive industry has been growing like crazy, influencing billions – if not trillions – of dollars in investment decisions and creating a lucrative side hustle hundreds of thousands of professionals. If you been invited to participate in a paid consulting opportunity and are wondering what is an expert network, you may have just received your golden ticket. Here’s what you need to know.

Should you consult for an expert network?

I charge $300 – $500 per hour to do expert network consulting, and it is ridiculously easy work. It reminds me of my favorite Lloyd Dobler quote from Say Anything:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

If you’re unfamiliar with expert network consulting, you may be missing out one of the easiest and highest paying consulting gigs out there.

Expert networks – such as GLG, AlphaSights, Guidepoint, proSapient and Third Bridge – connect investors and management consultants looking to rapidly do a deep dive into a company or market with “experts” who know all about it. These are typically former employees, customers, vendors, or competitors.

No matter what your area of expertise, there are probably expert networks out there trying to match you with projects. While these industry has some notoriety for paying over $1,000/hour to connect clients with Fortune 500 CFOs or specialized surgeons, there is far more need for everyday folks like marketers, IT managers, sales people, and even potato farmers. (Consulting rates are generally $100 – $250 for people earlier in their careers and $300 – $500 for mid-career professionals, like Vice Presidents.)

The typical engagement is a simple one hour phone call with the client, where you give a data dump and answer their questions. It’s always stuff that is second nature to you, but enables them to peel back the curtain for polished investor presentations and press releases to rapidly understand what’s really going on with a business. Stuff you barely need to think about can be often be mind-blowing information for an investor who is trying to decide whether or not to put (many) millions of dollars to work.

And best of all, as soon as you hang up the phone, your work is done. You don’t need to prepare for the calls or do any research and there is zero follow up. No marketing and no selling; the expert networks do that all for you. Even better, payment will show up in your bank account a week or two after the call.

How do you get started with expert networks?

The expert network industry is growing like crazy. There are well over 100 firms around the world, generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue. They are facilitating over 1 million of these high paying micro-consulting calls per year, and are CONSTANTLY looking for new experts to consult from virtually any field or industry that you could image.

There are three main ways to get started with the expert network industry:

  1. Get found on LinkedIn. Most people discover the secretive world of expert networks when they receive a LinkedIn message inviting them to briefly ‘consult’ with an expert network’s client at an hourly rate of their choosing. These messages can seem a little scammy or spammy, but 99% of the time they are your ticket in. Expert networks employ small armies of young recruiters who spend their entire day scouring LinkedIn to find people who match the qualifications required in project specs.
  2. Register directly with the expert networks. Many expert networks enable you to create a profile with them via their website. They care about what you know more than what you can do, so approach these profiles in different way than you would your LinkedIn profile or resume. List every product, company and market that you can knowledgeable speak about for at least half hour – customers, vendors, competitors, former employers, etc. So much of expert network recruiting is keyword driven (recruiters don’t really know much, if anything, about the subject matter their client wants to learn about), so put the names and phrases they are likely to be looking for into your profile and wait for your email box to fill up with new opportunities.
  3. Get referred. Have a friend or colleague who works with an expert network? Ask them to introduce you! Most expert networks actively solicit referrals, and some even pay a small referral fee for people who complete their first project. And don’t worry about competing with your buddy – oftentimes, clients want to speak multiple people with similar experiences (i.e. a few former employees from the same company) to see if there is consistency in their responses.

Next: Learn how to conveniently earn hundreds of dollars per hour with our Ultimate Guide to Expert Network Consulting




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