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 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, 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, 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. 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.

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 Consulting 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? Here’s 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 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

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 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 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, 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.)

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, 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.

proSapient Review

Have you received an invitation to participate in a ProSapient paid consultation opportunity? Are you unsure what this opportunity is, or if it’s even legitimate? Learn what to expect if you work with this rapidly growing expert network in our comprehensive proSapient review.

What is proSapient?

proSapient logo

ProSapient is an expert network, which are recruiting firms that specialize in custom sourcing subject matter experts (SMB) for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a rapidly $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave! Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client.

ProSapient is one of several up-and-coming expert networks that are capitalizing on new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation. London-based proSapient offers the typical product mix such as surveys, and 1:1 expert consultations, but also offers a multi-vendor platform for clients in it’s bid to be a software-as-a-service (SaaS) for expert networks. ProSapient recently raised $10M in Series A funding after achieving 100% year-over-year revenue growth. It plans to use the funds for a larger expansion into the United States as it seeks to offer a more technology-driven approach than industry stalwarts GLG, Guidepoint and AlphaSights.

Is proSapient fake or a scam?

ProSapient is a legitimate, newer company in the large but secretive expert network industry — it is not a scam. 

proSapient reviews

However, it’s noteworthy to mention that in the process of researching this article, I found more than a few complaints from experts in their proSapient reviews about the payment timing (or not being paid at all!). It appears the company has not addressed these complaints (at least on the forums where they appear) leaving experts feeling as if they were scammed.

While these complaints do not mean the opportunity is a scam, it does indicate that the firm may have some chronic operational issues that could delay your payment, or need to chase the associate who contacted you. These payment issues are likely to be growing pains, but it will be interesting to see if they start to respond to these public complaints, or if these complaints will continue.

What to expect if you consult with proSapient

ProSapient associates are tasked with sourcing experts for client projects, so if they reach out to via LinkedIn or email, they’ve already identified you as someone who may be a good fit. Why? It’s likely that you are a senior level industry professional with experience with a company, product, or industry their client is looking to learn more about. 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 executive (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 currently or formerly were a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.

Now that you’ve been identified, the associate will want you to register for their site and participate in a short vetting call to make sure you’re a fit before proposing your profile to the client for review. The vetting call will consist of some pretty general questions in order to judge your knowledge and confidence level in discussing various topics of interest to the client. This vetting process does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.

During the vetting process, you’ll be asked to provide a list of convenient times when you could participate in a client call, generally over the next week or two. Providing as flexible a schedule as you reasonably can will greatly increase. your chances of being assigned to the project. If the client does choose you for the project, you’ll generally receive a calendar invitation for the client call within a day or two of the vetting conversation.

Even if you don’t get chosen for this project, by completing their compliance procedure, you will be registered in their system and likely vetted for future projects, as networks tend to source in-network before custom sourcing for out-of-network experts. Most expert network consultants only land about 1 out of 3 or 4 projects that they apply for, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t selected for the first few that you respond to.

ProSapient Consulting Rates

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

You may have read articles online about how some experts make thousands of dollars a call. While that is true, the higher you price yourself, the more likely you are going to get priced out of a client interaction. The experts who can charge $1500 a call are usually very high-profile professionals with very recent experience in a niche industry.

In general, if you have been contacted for participation in a 1-hour 1:1 phone or video consult, you can expect to be offered a $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $350 for above a Director level. While you can absolutely negotiate your rate (or set the stage by letting the associate know your price floor), if you ask for a proSapient consulting rate above $500 per hour, you risk your profile not being seen by the client, or a client balking at your rate and going with a cheaper expert. You can always renegotiate your rate for subsequent projects you are contacted for, especially if you find that you are getting inundated by project participation requests.

The rate you actually receive for participation in a client call will be determined by the amount of time both you and the client are in the call. It’s in your best interest to keep the conversation going (with more insights, tidbits, analysis, or small talk), as an extra 10-15 minutes can bump up your rate, but conversely, any call that is more than 5 minutes under the 1 hour mark can be penalized with less pay.

How to ace your proSapient consulting call

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. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business. You can see some examples of expert consultation use cases on their website.

If the call is centered on a particular company, the client will want to know 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.

Alternatively, if the call will be centered on a particular issue or problem they have been tasked to solve. The client may be looking to develop a marketing strategy, solve chronic operational issues, or restructure an organization. These types of calls will often center your approach to an issue, your impressions of various products, factors that influence budget and purchase decisions, or to provide feedback on potential new products or solutions.

You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call- after all, the client wants to learn about an area via your experience. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. You can always be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients often have multiple calls on the same subject and if it becomes apparent that you lied, you may be blacklisted.

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 would be illegal. 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).

You should know that proSapient records all of their calls and makes the transcripts available to clients as part of a content library. You will not receive additional compensation if clients access the transcripts of your call, which is the same policy of Tegus , Stream and Arbolus, which offer similar subscription products.

What’s Next?

ProSpaient offers payment via PayPal or ACH direct deposit, and you can expect payment within 45 days of the completion of the 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 haven’t been contacted by an associate from ProSapient, you can still register to be added to their network by contacting them here.

NewtonX Review

Has a NewtonX associate reached out to you via LinkedIn, email, or phone to invite you to fill out a survey or participate in a client call? Are you not sure if it’s a legitimate opportunity— or a scam? Our NewtonX review shares what to expect, how to set your rate and land consulting opportunities with this rapidly growing expert network

What is NewtonX?

NewtonX is an expert network, a recruiting firm that specializes in custom sourcing subject matter experts for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave!

NewtonX, founded in 2016 by two former McKinsey consultants who realized an opening in the market, leverages AI and machine learning to quickly engage high volumes of experts. Dubbed a “knowledge access platform”, the firm’s custom sourcing is powered by its’ AI-enabled NewtonX Graph, which is supposed to be faster and less manual than the traditional expert network method. Additionally, the firm’s bread-and-butter service is the survey, which allows it to collect information from a high volume pool more quickly and cheaply than its’ competitors. Newton X also offers a full suite of services, such as 1:1 consults, long-form projects, and online communities. 

NewtonX has raised $15 million in venture capital investment, including a $12 million round led by Two Sigma Ventures in 2019.

NewtonX Paid Surveys

When NewtonX reaches out to prospective consultants, there are two types of engagements which they may want you to participate in:

  1. A short web-based paid survey on their platform, generating a fee from anywhere between $20 and $200.
  2. A traditional 1 hour, 1:1 phone or video consult with a client on a subject of your expertise. 

NewtonX is one of the more prolific facilitators of paid surveys amongst expert networks. Surveys are generally focused on business topics, especially trends in purchasing/budget allocation or how you view a set of competing products or companies.

The survey could be multiple choice, ranked choice, or short-form, but it is likely to take no more than 10 – 15 minutes of your time. The survey will double as registration in the firm’s network of experts. 

At the conclusion of the survey, the system will ask for you to input your payment information. You can expect payment to be initiated within 24 hours of survey competition, so it should land in your bank account within 5 business days. Alternatively, a check could take longer. The firm also offers PayPal as a payment option. 

Like most expert networks, the initial questions in the survey serve as a screen to ensure that you meet the client’s criteria and you will not be presented with the full survey nor be paid for your participation you don’t meet selection criteria. For example, if the quota of experts of your type (firm size, industry, title, currents/formers, etc.) has already been fulfilled, you will go through the survey and then be notified that you do not fit the criteria, and will not be led to a page to collect payment information.

Consulting with NewtonX

NewtonX also facilitates one-hour consulting calls – the bread and butter of most expert networks. The associate who reached out to you will want to vet your eligibility for a 1-hour phone consult with a client on a subject you appear to have expertise. Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:

  • You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years removed from a job where you were a senior executive (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 currently or formerly were a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.

The associate will want to ascertain whether you are a good fit for the project — I.e., ready and willing to discuss the topics of interest to the client. This vetting process takes just a few minutes and does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.

The client will receive several profiles for review and will only choose the profiles that are the best fit. You can usually guess whether you are a good fit for the project based on how easily you can answer the questions and how recent your relevant work experience is. If you’re selected for the project, the NewtonX associate will facilitate a convenient time for your client call, usually within just a few days of your introduction to the project.

Even if you don’t get chosen for this project, by completing their compliance procedure, you will be registered in their system and likely vetted for future projects.

Is NewtonX Legit (and is This Legal)?

If you are successfully vetted for either of the aforementioned engagements, you can expect to be presented with a compliance document. Generally, the document is standardized and will forbid the exchanging proprietary information, and protected the confidentiality of yourself and the client. The document should be very clear and an associate would be happy to answer any questions or address any concerns. 

That being said, it is up to you to know what you can and cannot reveal. It is up to you understand what other documents you may have signed could conflict with the compliance document, as well as any company policies preventing you from participating.

In general, clients are most at risk for breaches of compliance (see our previous article on an insider trading scheme that almost took down the industry!) and will never ask you to provide non-public information. NewtonX will provide you with guidelines on what you can and can’t share with clients, and instruct you to not answer any questions where you unsure if it is ok to answer.

NewtonX Consulting Rates

If you have been contacted for participation in a survey, there will be no mechanism to negotiate your rate. You will be made an offer based on your title, experience, and project-specific factors. Reviews of NewtonX’s surveys reveal compensation rates to range between $20 – $200; $40 – $75 for a 10 – 15 minute survey is typical.

If you have been contacted for participation in a 1-hour 1:1 phone or video consult, you can expect to be offered $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $350 for above a Director level. While you can absolutely negotiate your rate, if you ask for anything above $500, you risk your profile not being seen by the client, or a client balking at your rate and going with a cheaper expert. You can always renegotiate your rate for subsequent projects you are contacted for, especially if you find that you are getting inundated by project participation requests.

The rate you actually receive for participation in a client call will be determined by the amount of time both you and the client are in the call. It’s in your best interest to keep the conversation going, as an extra 10 – 15 minutes can bump up your rate, but conversely, any call that is more than 5 minutes under the 1 hour mark will be penalized with less pay.

Acing your NewtonX Consulting Call

Once you’ve been vetted and accepted an offer, your profile will be shared with the client. If the client selected your profile for a conversation, you’ll be scheduled for the phone consult based on the availability you gave the associate.

The client call should not be difficult, as the answers should come naturally to you, based on your years of experience of working in your particular industry. The client is not expecting a deliverable of any sort, however, it may be helpful to have some relevant figures handy. The vetting questions the associate walked through with you should clue you in on the topics of conversation be covered in the client call.The types of clients you will encounter will be institutional investors (consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, venture capital firms, etc.).

The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation. The conversation will centered on a target company’s positioning, go-to-market strategy, business model, key challenges and opportunities, and the competitive landscape. The client is looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or complicate their due diligence on a company, industry, or product of interest. 

If the client asks a question and you don’t know the answer, be honest. Otherwise you will be wasting time for both you. 

What’s Next?

After the call, your payment information will be collected, and you can expect payment within 14 days via ACH direct deposit (or longer if you chose the check option).

Now that you’re part of the NewtonX network, don’t be surprised if you are contacted for many more projects. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience by offering insights to institutional investors.

If you haven’t already been contacted by NewtonX about a project, you can learn more about becoming an expert consultant with NewtonX, or reach out an an associate to get started by emailing [email protected]. Be sure to mention what you’ve learned in our NewtonX review!

Ridgetop Research Review

Have you received a reach-out on LinkedIn or an out-of-the-blue phone call from an associate at Ridgetop Research, asking if you have an hour available for a paid consulting opportunity with a client? Are you wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity— or a scam? Get introduced to the secretive world of expert network consulting and learn how to land high-paying projects in our Ridgetop Research review.

What is Ridgetop Research?

Ridgetop Research logo

Ridgetop Research is an expert network, a recruiting firm that specializes in custom sourcing subject matter experts for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave!

Ridgetop is a mid-sized expert network with offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York, New York. The firm was founded in 2008 by former employees of Vista Research, an early pioneer in the industry that was taken down by an insider trading scandal in 2007. Ridgetop offers a range of services, from custom recruiting of industry professionals (just like other expert networks!), as well as survey fieldwork and paneling. The firm mostly caters to institutional investors such as private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms. Ridgetop also contracts with Cordium to provide “chaperone” services to clients to ensure calls are consistent with their compliance framework.

Qualifying for Ridgetop Research Consulting Calls

Your relationship with Ridgetop Research often starts with a LinkedIn message.

If you’ve been contacted by an associate from Ridgetop Research, it’s likely that you are a senior level industry professional with experience with a company, product, or industry their client is looking to learn more about. 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 executive (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 currently or formerly were a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.

The associate will invite you to register on the online platform, where you will run through a few vetting questions in order to ascertain whether you are a good fit for the project — I.e., ready and willing to discuss the topics of interest to the client. This vetting process does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.

The client will receive several profiles from Ridgetop Research for review and will only choose the profiles that are the best fit. You can usually guess whether you are a good fit for the project based on how easily you can answer the questions and how recent your relevant work experience is. You’ll usually find out if you’ve been selected for a project within a few days. Oftentimes, the associate will ask for your availability during the screening call and send you a calendar invite for your client call.

Even if you don’t get chosen for this project, by completing their compliance procedure, you will be registered in their system and likely vetted for future projects.

Ridgetop Review Consulting Rates

Expert network consulting rates 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 $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $500 or more for experienced executives.

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-suites and other high executives who have a history of successful calls command rates of $500. Some experts make $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. That being said, feel free to negotiate a rate that is commiserate for your time and energy to participate fully.

It’s important to keep in mind that your rate will be pro-rated based on the amount of time you are in the call with the client, so it’s in your best interest to keep the conversation flowing freely. An extra 10 – 15 minutes can bump up your rate, but conversely, any call that is more than 5 minutes under the 1 hour mark will be paid accordingly, so you should try to at least make it to the hour.

Acing Your Ridgetop Research Consulting Call

Once you’ve been vetted, negotiate a rate, are selected by the client, and provide your availability, you’ll be scheduled for the phone consult

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 your years of experience in your industry. The client is looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or complicate their due diligence on a company, industry, or product of interest. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will be institutional investors (at Ridgetop, that will be private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms) and are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary information. This policy should also be laid out to you 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.

What’s Next?

After the call, your payment information will be collected, and you can expect payment within 14 days via ACH direct deposit. 

Now that you’re part of the Ridgetop Research expert network, don’t be surprised if you are 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 Ridgetop Research about a project, you can reach out an an associate by emailing [email protected]

Dialectica Review

Have you received a message from someone from Dialectica, seeking a few minutes of your time for a paid consulting opportunity? Are you wondering what this opportunity is legit or a scam? Learn what to expect and how to land high-paying consulting projects with our review of Dialectica, one of Europe’s fastest growing expert networks.

What is Dialectica?

Dialecticanet logo

Dialectica is an an expert network, a recruiting firm that specializes in custom sourcing subject matter experts for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave!

Founded in 2015 by former management consultants, the firm now consists of 250 employees across 4 offices in Athens, London, New York, and Montreal. Dialectica offers three core information services: 1-to-1 expert conversations, project- length expert engagements, and surveys or reports generated via expert knowledge.

Dialectica is certainly a legit company. It has facilitated over 20,000 projects and was included in the Financial Times’ 2021 list of Europe’s fastest growing companies. It was the fastest growing expert network on the list, ranking 300th on the list with £10.5 million in 2019 revenue – 525% growth since 2016. (Larger European expert network Atheneum Partners also made the list at #701.)

What’s it like to consult with Dialectica?

If you have been contacted by an associate from Dialectica, your LinkedIn profile likely indicated that you would be a good fit for a project. Associates generally use the following criteria to judge whether you are a good fit for a project:

  • You used to work at a company a client is trying to learn more about. The general rule of thumb is that you must be at least 6 months removed from the target company.
  • You currently or used to work for a competitor to a company the client is trying to learn more about.
  • You have relevant experience in a parallel industry or market, or worked for a company that was customer of the target company.

The associate will send you a link to a questionnaire that will ask for more details on your relevant work history, as well as a sampling of the questions the client will want to ask in the 1-hour phone consult. It’s important to understand that these questions are not meant to replace the interview, just prove that you have the knowledge and experience they are looking for. The questionnaire shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to fill out. You may also be asked to give your availability for a 1-hour call.

It’s important to keep in mind that even if an associate thinks you are a good fit for the project, and you think you are a good fit for the project (based on the vetting questions), there is a chance you may not be selected for a call. The associate will submit your profile to the client for review, and there are plenty of factors that affect whether you get the project: consulting rate, vetting question response time, time to accept the compliance document, and other factors outside of your control. Even if you don’t get this project, going through these motions will register your in their database and ensure you are identified quickly for future engagements.

In talking to other experts, I’ve heard a few complaints about Dialectica project spam – frequent consulting requests for projects that are significantly far off topic. Making sure your Dialectica profile is crisp and specific is a good way to cut down on off-targets requests (and land more on-point opportunities). The survey and consulting requests that I receive from Dialectica have mostly been well targeted at my area of expertise.

Setting your Dialectica Consulting Rate

Expert network consulting rates vary widely and are dependent on how recent your experience is, the depth of your experience, and job title. Typically, you will receive project requests for experience in companies or job titles within the last 3 years, but the more recent your experience is, the higher likelihood you have of landing the client call. Similarly, the higher your job titles, the higher rate you can command.

Typically, you will be offered $100-$200 for a role below the Director level. A Director or above will likely be offered $200-$350 for participation in a call. While you can absolutely negotiate for a higher rate (and you should!), it’s unlikely that you will be successful in securing more than $100 above the initial offer for your first call. 

You can always renegotiate each time you are contacted for an opportunity. You should try to gauge the demand for your experience— are you receiving a high volume of requests? — and evaluate how niche your industry or experience is to determine a fair rate. Some experts can command rates of $500- $1,000, but those experts are often in small or niche industries where it is difficult to source experts, or they are trusted experts who have completed several successful calls and proven their worth to a network.

You should also know that your rate will be pro-rated (by the minute) based on the amount of time you are in a call. If the call goes under 1 hour, you will not be paid for the entire hour. Conversely, if the call goes over the hour, you can expect to be paid more than the initial negotiated rate. 

Acing Your Dialectica Consulting Call

Dialectica consulting projects

An expert network consulting call is not like other types of consulting engagements in that you are not expected to prepare or generate a deliverable. The questions the client will be asking should be easy for you to answer, based on the depth and breadth of your experience in a given industry. If you are asked a question you don’t now the answer to, it’s best to admit you don’t know and offer to follow-up with the answer, or give it your best educated opinion. 

Most calls are centered in a company the client is performing due diligence on. In this case, the client will want to understand the target company’s positioning, go-to-market strategy, business model, key challenges and opportunities, and the competitive landscape. The client will likely have done extensive research on the company and industry, and are getting a sense of the company’s growth prospects by testing their hypotheses against your knowledge.

It’s important to note that clients are not seeking proprietary information on the company. In fact, exchanging proprietary information in an expert network consulting call is illegal and considered insider trading. Many calls are recorded and transcribed for internal purposes and subjected to compliance tests. The compliance terms will be laid out to you in a non-disclosure agreement prior to the call. Regardless, you should use your best professional judgement when answering questions to avoid any compliance issues. 

Getting Started with Dialectica

Now that you’re part of the network, you will be contacted for more projects that align with your experience. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your career and knowledge. If you haven’ t been contacted by an associate from Dialectica, you can still register to be added to their network by signing up to be a specialist here.

Atheneum Partners Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Atheneum Partners with an opportunity to participate in a hour-long consulting call? Are you wondering if the opportunity — or Atheneum Partners— is legitimate or a scam? Learn if you should work with this fast growing expert network in our Atheneum Partners review.

What is Atheneum Partners?

Atheneum Partners Logo

Atheneum Partners GMBH is a mid-sized expert network headquartered in Berlin, Germany with offices in other 10 countries. It operates a Research as a Service (RaaS) product model to conduct primary research for management consulting firms, investment houses, and corporate clients. They offer a small variety of consulting products, including 1-hour consulting calls, primary research deliverables, and long-form consulting opportunities. Atheneum produces research for projects across 8 industries: Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Industrials & Transportation, Materials & Natural Resources, and Public Policy. Atheneum Partners is an expert network that wants to leverage your industry knowledge for their clients.

Is Atheneum Partners fake or a scam?

Atheneum Partners is a legitimate company with a 10 year history that operates all over the world— it is not fake or a scam.  In August, 2021, Atheneum announced that it had raised $150 million in equity investment, led by Guidepost Growth Equity. The company disclosed that is currently generating over $50 million in annual revenue, with growth rates of 50% or more in 2020 and 2021! Atheneum ranked as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies according to the Financial Times (along with the smaller, but faster growing Dialectica.)

However, it’s noteworthy that in the process of researching this review, I found more than a few complaints from consultants about the company’s payment terms, timing, and occasional habit of not sending payment at all. It appears the company has addressed these complaints directly on forums and with the consultants themselves, but it’s concerning as it appears that these complaints are consistent over a long period of time, and continue through 2021. 

While these complaints do not mean the opportunity is a scam, it does indicate that the firm may have some chronic operational issues that could delay your payment longer than the industry standard. Atheneum’s payment terms are within 45 days, while most other expert networks issue payment within a few days or a couple of weeks of completing a project).

(And of course, you should always exercise caution when dealing with people whom you don’t know on the Internet. Beware of impersonators utilizing fake Atheneum Partners email addresses, and know that an expert network will never ask you to send them money.)

Onboarding with Atheneum Partners

If an associate from Atheneum Partners has reached out to you via email, phone call or LinkedIn, you have been selected for screening based on project criteria, including:

  1. You are a former employee of a company the client wants to know more about, usually for due diligence purposes, before purchasing or investing in the target company. You must be at least 6 months removed from your employment with the company to be eligible for participation.
  2. You are a current or former employee of a competitor of the company they are researching, and the client wants to know how the target company is positioned and viewed by competitors.
  3. You are an expert on a related topic, industry, or geography that can offer insight on the industry, even if you’re not overly familiar with the target company or product.

The associate will take a few minutes to explain the project parameters and have you fill out a survey to vet your relevant experience and knowledge. The survey is intended to solicit a high-level understanding of your ability and confidence is speaking to various subjects, and is not intended to substitute the client call. It’s also important to understand that filling out a survey doesn’t guarantee that your profile will be selected by the client. Even if you are not selected for this particular project, participating in this process will register you in their database, enabling you to be quickly selected for future projects.

At the end of the call, the associate will gather your availability for a 1-hour call, discuss your hourly consulting rate, and discuss their compliance policy, which you will need to review and accept to move forward in the process.

Atheneum Partners Consulting Rates 

Atheneum Partners payment problems
Atheneum Partners has received an above average number of complaints about payment issues.

Atheneum’s hourly consulting rates vary widely based on your relevant job title, and how many years you are removed from the industry or relevant job title. The closer you are to the relevant job title, the more likely you can command a higher rate for your expertise. You may have to listen closely to the type of questions they ask to ascertain what part of your employment history is most relevant, but often the associate will ask you directly about a specific title. 

The associate will usually offer an initial rate: $100 – $200 for a title below director, $200 – $350 for a title between director and C-suite, and $350 – $500 or more for someone with a C-suite role. It’s important to know that while this rate might be presented as a final offer, the actual hourly rate is up for negotiation. Some experts get paid $1,000+ for the 1 hour calls via Atheneum, but only if their knowledge is niche, related to a very large company, or the expert has a track record of successful client calls.

The best way to maximize your consulting rate is to let the associate know that you have worked with expert networks in the past and that you already have a set rate. Announcing your rate early in the call, or early in the negotiations, allows you to set the benchmark based on a range that makes the engagement worth your time, rather than allowing the associate’s metrics to dictate your pay. You should note that you can renegotiate your rate each time you are contacted for a project, so you can increase your rate over time as you become more comfortable participating in client calls.

It’s in your best interest to keep the call going as long as you can, as your hourly consulting rate is pro-rated based on the amount of time you’re in the call. According to their compliance document, Atheneum compensates for the initial 30 minutes, and then for every 15 minute increment beyond that, as well as an unpaid 5-minute leeway period provided to each client to wrap up a consultation.

Acing your Atheneum Partners Call

Most client calls are centered on a particular company, industry, or product. The client will ask you to discuss the vetting questions in much more detail than in the vetting process with the associate from Atheneum: core competitive metrics, competitive landscape for each industry vertical, product strategies, brand positioning, and customer loyalty are some examples of the topics you’ll be asked to elaborate on.

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. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business.

If the client is an investment manager, the call will likely be centered on a particular company. The client will want to know 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.

Alternatively, if the client is a management consulting firm, the call will be centered on a particular issue or problem they have been tasked to solve. The client may be looking to develop a marketing strategy, solve chronic operational issues, or restructure an organization. These types of calls will often center your approach to an issue, your impressions of various products, factors that influence budget and purchase decisions, or to provide feedback on potential new products or solutions.

You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call- after all, the client wants to learn about an area via your experience. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. You can always be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients often have multiple calls on the same subject and if it becomes apparent that you lied, you may be blacklisted.

It’s important to note that you will never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information during a client call, and Atheneum will have provided you with clear compliance guidelines prior to the call. In the rare event that you are asked to disclose non-public or proprietary information, you should decline to answer. Atheneum records their calls and offers transcription as a service to their clients, so you should know that exchanging this type of information is considered insider trading and could be met with considerable legal issues. 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.

What’s Next?

Atheneum offers payment via PayPal or ACH direct deposit, and you can expect payment within 45 days of the completion of the 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 haven’t been contacted by an associate from Atheneum Partners, you can still register to be added to their network by visiting their website.