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 Network Definition: A $1.5 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 $1.5 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, Maven Research, 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.

AlphaSights Review – Should You Consult for the Second Largest Expert Network?

An in-depth review of AlphaSights, one of the world’s fast-growing international expert network

Overview of AlphaSights

alphasights logo

AlphaSights is one of the largest expert networks, and is considered to be one of the “the big five” firms that dominate the nearly $2 billion industry.  Some industry estimates name AlphaSights as the second largest expert network after behemoth GLG.

Co-founded in London, England in 2008 by Max Cartellieri (also the founder of Ciao AG) and Andrew Heath (founder of GoIndustry). Within a handful of years, they launched branches in New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, San Francisco, Seoul, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Shanghai, connected clients around the world with experts across countless business sectors. Cited in 2017 by Financial Times as one of Europe’s fasting growing companies, AlphaSights calls itself a “professional services firm.” Its mission statement? “To connect the world’s top professionals with the world’s best knowledge: reflecting our fundamental belief in the power of connecting humanity’s knowledge.”

Overview of Expert Networks

If you’re reading this review of the AlphaSights “expert network,” perhaps it’s because you received a LinkedIn invitation to be an expert consultant or Advisor. Now you’re doing your due diligence to research the company and see if AlphaSights is legitimate or if you’ve been targeted by some type of scam. Maybe you aren’t certain if such networks are an actual thing! The concept seems too good to be true—a company that pays you hundreds of dollars an hour for consulting other companies? 

Well, expert networks are a nearly $2 billion global industry, and as one of the biggest firms, you can rest assured that AlphaSights is legit. They build a giant pool of subject matter experts, then, as a sort of middleman agency, they advertise that pool to organizations that might need services. There’s nothing mysterious about it; it is a business model we see every day and think nothing of it. (That said, online scams are certainly prolific, so you should be suspicious if someone asks you for money or payment information to participate with an expert network!)

Management consultants and investors are the primary clients of expert networks like AlphaSights, with corporate customers representing a small but growing customer segment. One major business decision can drive a company’s entire trajectory, make or break them, earn (or cost) them millions in revenue. That’s why clients typically pay AlphaSights $1,000 per hour or more to source experts like you.  While the hourly cost seems quite high, it is a trivial amount to spend to gain insights that shape multi-million dollar (or more) decisions!

It isn’t just management consultants within companies that seek out experts for advice; investors do, too. AlphaSights’ clients are looking for the “straight dope” from seasoned pros who’ve had their boots on the ground inside a specific sector and can speak truth to power without fear of ramifications or a need to please the boss. 

When an AlphaSight’s associate reaches out to you with the promise of sky-high rates for an hour of  your time, they’re not exaggerating.  Many experts charge $250 – $500 for a one hour phone call, with lower rates for younger professionals and significantly higher ones for very senior executives or people with very specialized expertise.

What should you expect on an AlphaSights consulting call?

Alphasights recruiting
Alphasights recruiters frequently reach out to prospective consultants via LinkedIn

How do phone call consults go for an expert network project? There are three types of calls you can expect. The first is a request for a “company deep dive”; the next is a much broader industry overview. The last is a consultation with other subject matter experts (sometimes called knowledge bomb conversations. See our Ultimate Expert Network Guide to learn more about those). 

The deep dive is of particular interest to potential investors looking for keen insights into a specific company before deciding to sink money into it. Industry overviews help paint a big picture about a sector’s customers and future. Calls from other experts empower firms to improve offerings; essentially, they borrow your expertise to boost their credibility in their customers’ eyes during times of change or crisis. 

It’s important to note that confidential calls are held to a high compliance standard, and consultants should not disclose privileged information. They can dive into complex financial data, and possibly personal insights about management, strategy, customer complaints (or other information that is releasable yet may not be published on reports), though. When an AlphaSights call is finished, the Advisor’s obligation is over and payment is sent within a few days!   

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

When expert advisors get started, it is common for them to wonder if they possess knowledge a company or investor would pay to hear. Some go through a phase of “imposter syndrome,” as if they are simply pretending to be experts. Luckily this feeling goes away fairly quickly, especially when the checks start rolling in. 

There are thousands of clients in need of all types of insights and feedback. They receive significant benefits from reaching out to consultants. If they didn’t, expert networks wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry. But how can you be sure you qualify? Well, we’ve talked about the three main types of calls that are made—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Most of us who’ve worked within a particular company or in a specific sector for a few years have gleaned unique knowledge from those experiences. That knowledge has value and is marketable! 

How do I set my AlphaSights hourly consulting rate?

Alphasights consulting fees

If you’ve been working for only a handful of years for a particular company or sector, you might set an hourly rate between $100 – $150/hour with AlphaSights. Seasoned members can charge up to $300 – $500 an hour, while major corporate players might ask for thousands of dollars. 

When choosing what you feel is a reasonable rate, keep in mind three things. One, customers aren’t looking for the cheapest rates; they are looking for the best value. Two, your insights may drive a decision that could be worth millions of dollars, so don’t undervalue your services! Three, remember that AlphaSights will markup your services considerably. 

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to set your expert network hourly rate, which dives into the weeds on pricing models. The better you understand how pricing works, the more you can set an AlphaSights consulting rate that fairly compensates you yet doesn’t scare off clients. 

What are the downsides to consulting for AlphaSights?  

AlphaSights operates a large, competitive network filled with highly-qualified advisors. There is no guarantee of work, and it takes time to establish your reputation. You may receive invites to bid on projects, but it can get frustrating to spend 5 – 10 minutes each time, tailoring and polishing up bids that get rejected. The trick is to learn from each experience and be persistent. 

Like many expert networks, project opportunities through AlphaSights tend to be feast or famine so it’s hard to count on this revenue and not uncommon to go for very long stretches without landing a project.  On the flipside, if you’re a top expert on a hot topic or company, you may briefly find yourself inundated with project requests.

How can I win more AlphaSights consulting projects?

To get hired more often, it pays to be discovered! This means optimizing your Advisor profile with relevant keywords and search terms. Ensure your profile is concise, impactful, persuasive, and error-free. It should feature a strong summary of employment history and relevant knowledge. Read a few profiles of high-priced consultants in your field and borrow ideas that apply. Then, if needed, hire a writer to help you punch your draft up!  

AlphaSights’ Client Service Team works hard to connect clients with industry experts who can offer the right answers. You must be proactive and keep an eye out for opportunities, then get your proposals out the door! However, don’t cut-and-paste generic wording. Take time to tailor the phrasing so you’re speaking to the client’s unique needs. Yes, that takes longer, but the return on investment will be higher. And the more consultations you complete, the more feedback you’ll receive. Those feedbacks help you land work! 

As you put out proposals, you’ll walk a fine line between selling yourself and staying objective about your qualifications. Every client is different, but they all value honesty, so be clear about what you can offer without promising the moon and stars. Give concrete examples from your past that feature hard numbers and the tangible impacts your work made. Show how your knowledge can add value and is worth the price of admission. 

Now that we know who can afford those high-priced consults, let’s explore what types of consults are available! 

What types of consulting projects does AlphaSights take on? 

AlphaSights offer a wide range of services, via their network of external industry experts. Not all of AlphaSights’s “knowledge-holders” aka Advisors are C-suite types. Expert advisors are pulled from all levels of virtually every business sector. They come from all backgrounds and different countries to engage with clients remotely, running the gamut from market intelligence, broad industry perspectives, specific organizational insights, and general advice to inform decision-making. 

The types of projects they take on are as varied as their massive client roster, which means AlphaSights has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large scope projects, they might put together a team, but in general, you might expect to do 1:1 calls starting out. 

Consulting Calls

Clients use AlphaSights to connect with advisors and hear insights and solutions. Advisors get to decide what projects to take on, and what times are mutually convenient to do the calls (though it pays to be flexible). There’s nothing to prepare, though it can be helpful to do some research ahead of time for specific projects. Once a call is over, there’s nothing more to do except kick back and wait to get paid.  

Expert advisors get more than financial compensation, though. They gain invaluable opportunities to expand their own network, build relationships, hone their skills, and learn new things. With each call, the consultant adds value to their own portfolio. 

As mentioned above, all parties must be very mindful of avoiding compliance pitfalls. Clients can’t ask for sensitive or protected information such as trade secrets, and advisors can’t share it. Parties on an AlphaSights call are obligated to comply with ethical rules and legal restrictions. Apart from that, the direction of the call is largely up to the client. They might have an endless stream of questions, or might want to learn what types of questions they should be asking! You’re paid to listen, respond to the best of your ability, and let the call go on for as long as it needs until the client is ready to get off the line. Again, AlphaSights pays per minute, so you’re compensated if a call stretches over the standard hour. 

Broader Services 

AlphaSights states that they “source and qualify the best industry experts for our clients to speak to via phone, in-person meetings, and full-day workshops.” In-person meetings are similar to phone consultations but are sometimes more suitable (except when there’s a pandemic going on!). For now, we won’t dive too much into the workshops, lucrative though they may be. Most Advisors start doing phone consults, so that’s the best place to focus your energies until your reputation on the platform is secured. 

Is AlphaSights legit or are this a scam? 

AlphaSights is entirely legitimate and has a solid history. With offices worldwide and a client roster featuring multinational conglomerates, they have established themselves as a leading institute in the expert network trade. AlphaSights vets applicants to ensure they are contracting only professionals to serve as Advisors for their clients. This occurs through an Account Manager who facilitates the process to save clients some legwork by narrowing down choices. 

AlphaSights model is also helpful because of its discretion. Instead of a business casting a wide net in its search for independent advisors, it can simply go through AlphaSights and limit the number of people hearing about the request. In today’s business world, news of a company seeking outside advice can create a buzz. So, even though AlphaSights is serving thousands of clients every day, their business, by nature, is somewhat discrete. 

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at AlphaSights?

AlphaSights, like other expert networks, doesn’t explicitly list a lot of details about how much their consultants make. If you think about it, why would they? They don’t want customers to see the markups! Again, expert networks earn a living by charging a substantial markup on the amount that they actually pay out to the folks doing the work.   

So what should you charge? Set your expert network rate too low and it’s quite possible to leave hundreds of dollars on the table, while if you ask too much you could not only lose out on the project, but burn your relationship with an entire expert network.  

It’s not a simple question to answer, but if you learn how to thread the needle, you can maximize your earnings by landing the most opportunities at your highest average rate. The best way to decide upon an hourly rate is to get started on your account. To do that, you can reach out to AlphaSights via their Contact Us form. Under the options, select that you are interested in being a potential Advisor. If they reach out to you to create a profile, you should be able to review other profiles and gauge the going rates for industry experts with comparable backgrounds. 

Conclusion 

If you have experience-based knowledge and insights worth sharing, hopefully this AlphaSights review has shown that you can probably connect you to customers who’ll pay for it. It doesn’t get any better than earning a few hundred an hour to hold a business discussion with a stranger! 

AlphaSights likely doesn’t want to deal with a flood of candidates banging on their door, so their process is not overt. Their website is aimed at business clients, not at recruiting Advisors. However, if you reach out to them via their Contact Us form, you should hear back from a rep soon. You’ll never know until you try! 

Coleman Research Review – The Pros and Cons of Consulting for a Global Expert Network

A deep dive into Coleman Research, one of the most extensive expert networks in the world

Overview of Coleman Research 

Coleman Research

When business managers and investors need actionable information to make decisions, they contact Coleman Research. An expert network with offices around the world, Coleman connects clients to best-in-category subject matter experts who can offer timely industry insights that will drive decision-making. Coleman also keeps clients up-to-date on changes in our fast-based information economy, giving them an edge over the competition. 

Founded in 2003 by Kevin Coleman, Coleman Research is headquartered in New York, with offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Raleigh, and San Francisco and a network of consultants spread across 12,000 cities. During its mission to offer the highest levels of service and access to leading industry experts, Coleman has completed over 200,000 projects, providing client-centered solutions through 1-on-1 phone consultations, hosted events, and surveys. 

The company employs a multilingual integrated team that provides services to several sectors, including business and financial services, consumer goods and services, energy and industry, healthcare, legal and regulatory matters, media and telecom, and more. The Coleman expert network consists of current and former C-suite executives, managing directors, senior managers, and other industry professionals. A notable recent milestone was the announcement of Coleman’s partnership with management consultant group Inspire, allowing Inspire’s client base of non-profits to connect with Coleman’s global expert network. Coleman has also been instrumental in helping clients during the Covid-19 crisis, providing critical insights regarding the pandemic’s impact on markets.

As Coleman Research continues to expand operations, it needs a steady influx of talented specialists ready to share knowledge and experience with their clients. Intrigued? Then let’s dive in for a closer view at the expert network industry and what working with Coleman might look like for you! 

Overview of Expert Networks

Believe it or not, the concept of “expert networks” is still relatively unknown to the average American. And yet, it’s a burgeoning ~$2 billion-a-year industry, working at breakneck speed behind the scenes to give businesses and investors a cutting edge in an increasingly competitive market. 

Laypeople might not know about groups like Coleman Research, but savvy companies do. They rely on expert networks every day, but they don’t go around advertising that fact! Instead, businesses keep a low profile when it comes to how they source intel. They want to receive their consultations discreetly, away from the public eye. Coleman and other similar agencies understand that. They’re not operating in secret; they simply don’t make a big show about their services. In fact, most people who’ve heard of expert networks learned about them from someone who works for one or after seeing an ad (or getting an invitation) on LinkedIn. Expert networks used to recruit via word of mouth, but today they utilize the power of professional networking sites like LinkedIn to find and contract talent. 

As Coleman puts it, they are “information matchmakers.” Another way to say it—they’re middlemen. They find the clients for you to consult, and they get a hefty commission for making that connection. Specifically, Coleman facilitates “meaningful conversations between some of the best minds across all industries.” They look for qualified experts in a wide range of sectors who are willing and able to share opinions and advice in exchange for a generous fee. The advisor sets their hourly consulting rate, then Coleman marks that up and keeps the difference. It’s that simple. 

Businesses face an array of daily problems, and they often seek outsider help before making decisions. Investors also consult experts before deciding on how to position themselves. Coleman saves these types of clients time and energy by finding and vetting the right people who can provide useful information. This is done through a 6-Step process:

  1. Clients present Coleman Research with a project designed to help answer a question or solve a particular problem. 
  2. Coleman filters their vast talent pool to find suitable advisors. 
  3. Interested consultants might need to answer a few questions and submit a brief proposal. Clients will review submissions and choose from the candidates. 
  4. Coleman makes all the arrangements for the call.
  5. Clients talk with their chosen advisor. 
  6. Coleman releases payment and requests feedback. 

These clients don’t mind paying hundreds or, in some cases, even thousands of dollars an hour for information that could potentially make or save them far more money than they spend!

What should you expect on a Coleman Research consulting call?

Coleman Research consulting process
Coleman Research has a well-defined process to match experts with clients.

Coleman Research takes great care to provide value-added information within the confines of legal and ethical guidelines. As the company states, “Our business is built on trust, transparency, and sound ethics. These values are the backbone of our compliance program.” That’s why it offers compliance training to new experts who join the network and screens all candidates to ensure no glaring conflict exists if the consultant take on a particular project. 

For 1-on-1 phone consults, Coleman contractors set an hourly rate, but technically, they’re paid by the minute to chat about an expert network project. There are three broad categories that a call might fall under:

Industry overview — Big data is easy to get, but broad industry overviews are also popular for investors gathering intel about a particular company, market, or sector. They can use what they learn to form a big picture which data alone can’t always paint. Then they can make informed strategic decisions based on that big picture and what it indicates for the future!   

Company deep dive — Deep dives focus on a specific company, perhaps a competitor for the client who’s calling. That’s why consultants aren’t allowed to discuss current employers since it would create a conflict of interest. Some deep dives examine only a particular area of a company, perhaps a problem or something they’re doing right. This can help clients either learn from peers’ mistakes or attempt to replicate a peers’ success.  

Consulting with consultants — Even consultants need help sometimes, which is why corporate consultants might reach out and “phone a friend” to glean some objective insights that’ll benefit their clients. 

To learn more about the ins and outs of high-paying expert phone consulting, check out our comprehensive Ultimate Expert Network Guide

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

Sometimes qualified individuals worry that they won’t make the grade or that they don’t know anything that would be valuable enough for a client to pay for! Essentially, they don’t think they’re qualified for this type of work. We say, why not let Coleman be the judge of that? 

What is a subject matter expert anyhow? Typically anyone who has worked long enough in a particular field or for a certain company becomes an expert on at least something! There is no checklist that lets you determine clearly whether or not your knowledge passes the test to qualify as an expert, though. The true test is to try and see. 

If you’re worried about “imposter syndrome,” don’t be! Everyone has to start somewhere. Out of the 12,000+ consultants in Coleman’s network, they all had to cross that invisible threshold from being workers to becoming (well-paid) consultants!  

How do I set my Coleman Research hourly consulting rate?

Coleman Research consulting fees

Expert networks love to recruit via LinkedIn, and they entice potential talent by dangling a cash carrot. But do these companies really pay hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour? Yes, in some cases, they do! 

Actually, their clients pay the money, and Coleman just adds their own fees as a markup to whatever rate you decide to set. Remember, Coleman isn’t necessarily looking for cheap labor here. The more you charge, the more they can mark up your rate. So they want to find advisors who can command high rates! That doesn’t mean to set an inflated rate arbitrarily. Your insights carry value, but that value might be subjective. 

Generally speaking, if you held a mid-level role in a company for a few years and possess some information and opinions a client would pay for, consider setting a $100 – $150/hour rate. If you are a seasoned professional in a specialized role or position of authority, $300 – $500 an hour might be more suitable. Executives can often charge more than a thousand per hour since their insights can carry significantly more weight. 

Coleman encourages experts “to set their own hourly rates based on industry standards, commensurate with their level of expertise and experience.” The company offers guidance for those who ask. You can also review our full brief on how to set your expert network consulting rate

What are the downsides to consulting for Coleman Research?  

Every job has its fair share of pros and cons. The critical thing to remember here is—this is not a job! 

Coleman does hire full-time employers, however, their experts are contractors who may or may not ever get work. There are no guarantees you’ll ever be selected for a project and even if you are, sometimes projects fall through. 

The biggest complaint we’ve seen about Coleman from consultants who’ve worked for them is that there isn’t enough work. A couple of others mentioned a lack of feedback or clients canceling on them. But if you come into the process with some expectation management, you shouldn’t be disappointed. 

Glassdoor contains a small mix of reviews on Coleman (again, filtering out full-time employees and only looking at contractors). Below are a few for you to check out, and as you’ll see, even the positive reviews mention the sporadic workload: 

Indeed also features reviews from contractors, mostly positive:

Consulting for Coleman Research isn’t remotely close to being a full-time gig. Some consultants get more work than others, simply because they’re in more demand due to their qualifications or customer service. Coleman makes the connections, but it doesn’t control the marketplace except to help vet potential advisors in the early stage of the process. Otherwise, it’s a competition and up to advisors to persuade clients to work with them. Those who persist swim; those who don’t may sink! 

How can I win more Coleman Research consulting projects?

As with any work, you should eventually start getting picked up for projects if you’re qualified and competitive. Otherwise, you might end up going hungry in this “feast or famine” environment! 

How do you know if you’re qualified? Coleman will do some vetting first, so if they contact you, you know you’re at least preliminarily qualified. It’s up to you to review the project details carefully then decide if you want to throw your hat in the ring or not. If you believe your insights can lead that client to make a good decision—and you can persuade them of that fact—then go for it!

If not, take a pass and keep trying. It doesn’t do any good to try for projects you’re not qualified for. That’s a waste of your time, so focus on the ones you’ll excel at so you can earn positive reviews! Spend sufficient time reviewing the project and writing a compelling proposal. Be professional, edit your work so that it’s error-free, and make sure your LinkedIn profile is polished, too (in case they look at it!). 

At the end of the day, just remember that there are other expert networks out there, so if you’re still not getting enough work from Coleman’s, you can try GLG, AlphaSights, GuidePoint, or Third Bridge! 

What types of consulting projects does Coleman Research take on? 

Coleman Research offers 1-on-1 consultations as well as hosted conferences and events and expert surveys for clients in the following industries: 

  • Business and Financial Services
  • Consumer Goods and Services
  • Energy and Industrials
  • Healthcare
  • Legal and Regulatory 
  • Tech, Media and Telecom

Their primary service offering is the 1-on-1 call. Coleman Research connects advisors and “industry thought leaders” who can offer relevant, timely, first-hand perspectives on key issues. Calls may last an hour or more, during which time clients can steer the interview based on their needs. It’s up to the consultant to ensure there are no breaches of confidentiality and to report anything questionable in accordance with the Terms and Conditions, which “prohibit the disclosure of confidential and material, non-public information.”

Hosted Events

Coleman offers hosted events featuring a crack team of experienced analysts who are up-to-date on the latest industry news and trends. In-house experts staff these events, so contractors are not likely invited to participate. However, for those able to establish a solid reputation with the company, who knows what doors might open? 

Expert Surveys

Coleman does offer survey services to their clients, however, the company’s website does not specify whether they use contracted consultants to complete these or not. It seems like they do, based on one of the case study writeups! Since they don’t publish details on how contractors can qualify to participate, we suggest filling out an application to join the network. If one of their representatives reaches out, that’s the best time to ask for specifics on how to get involved with some of those low-stress surveys. 

Is Coleman Research a scam, or are they legit? 

Coleman Research is a legitimate international company that focuses on facilitating short-term consultations between business clients and qualified contracted advisors. You not only get paid for these simple phone calls, but you also receive the bonus of getting to converse with other experts working for management consultancies, mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity firms. There’s no prep work involved, and advisors are free to accept or decline any work offered. 

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at Coleman Research? 

Coleman’s site notes that how many requests you receive depends on many factors, including one’s area of expertise, experience level, and availability to take a potential client’s call. However, your rate will be a factor, too! You want to charge an amount that compensates you fairly for the value you provide the customer. That’s a very subjective equation, so in the beginning it makes sense to compare what peers are charging and set your rate accordingly. If you undercharge, it could indicate a lack of confidence, but if you overcharge and can’t deliver the goods, that may result in a negative review of your services. 

Just remember, expert networks make money by marking up your rate and keeping the difference. They obviously prefer not to disclose how much their markup is, but you can pull back the curtain and get the inside scoop through our detailed expert network rate overview!

Conclusion

Coleman Research boasts of a 90% retention rate with over 200K projects completed. Clearly this is a company that’s here to stay. They have built a giant sandbox for consultants to come play in. There’s no guarantee of work, but it’s free to apply and see what’s out there! So if the possibility of making over $100 an hour to answer questions on the telephone sounds like an opportunity you’d like to explore, why not give Coleman Research a shot? You can learn more about how to join their expert network here!

GLG Review – Should You Consult for the World’s Largest Expert Network? The Pros and Cons of Consulting for GLG

An in-depth review of GLG, the world’s largest expert network

Overview of Expert Networks

If you’ve ever received an invitation to join an expert network like GLG, you may have been skeptical. These invites offer to pay hundreds of dollars an hour to give phone consults to clients. It sounds too good to be true, but expert networks are real and provide lucrative payouts if you’ve got in-demand industry insights to give. 

GLG (which is rebranded shorthand the Gerson Lehrman Group) and other expert networks profit by capitalizing on your subject matter expertise. They are well-compensated middlemen, connecting organizations with consultants within their in-house “community,” aka “expert network.” Why do companies hire consultants? Because a single critical decision can cost companies millions of dollars, so paying a few thousand in consulting fees is peanuts in comparison. 

Gerson Lehrman Group Offices
GLG has helped build a massive industry for buying and selling expertise.

Expert networks like GLG make perfect sense, which is why the industry now has almost 200 similar networks, raking in $1.5 billion in annual revenue. These networks are the bridge between experts and companies who need them. Investors and management consultants need straight talk from people in the trenches who can offer insights before they make an investment or a decision about a strategic direction to take. GLG’s clients need the “real story” from inside experts like you! 

In return, GLG tacks on a sizable markup. For instance, the expert’s consulting rate might be $200 per hour, but GLG often charges its clients $1,000+ per hour for facilitating calls with industry experts who can deliver the straight scoop minutes after a phone call commences. Thus, we see the rationale behind those LinkedIn invites offering to pay you hundreds of dollars for an hour of your time.  While at first these opportunities may sound too good to be true, for professionals who qualify such projects are real and accessible, with expert networks like GLG facilitating over 1 million high paying consulting calls each year.

What should you expect on a GLG consulting call?

So what does an expert do during a one-hour client call for an expert network project? Essentially, one of three things. They may offer a company deep dive, an industry overview, or a consultation with other consultants (we explore these “knowledge bomb” conversations in more depth in our Ultimate Expert Network Guide)!

A deep dive may be requested from someone outside of a company, like an investor wanting to learn more before deciding what position to take. Such calls dive into hard numbers, insights about management, opinions on what customers like or dislike about a product or service, and other data that can’t be found on reports. 

The industry overview is broader. Often, a company speaks with several consultants to form a big picture about an industry, its customers, and its future. They might even ask what questions they should be asking!

The third type of call comes from consulting firms looking to improve offerings to their clients. They are offering expert services to a company but need to “phone a friend” when a new product is launched, or something isn’t going according to plan. Of course, anything they learn from you will appear to be coming from them when they pass it on! 

The key benefit to the expert network system is clear—once a consulting call is finished and you hang up the phone, it’s over. They got something they needed, and your obligation is concluded. Then you get paid! It doesn’t get much easier than that.  

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

After learning that expert networks are legitimate, many struggle to believe they’d have knowledge worth someone else’s money. It’s the biggest question we ask ourselves: “Why would someone pay so much just to talk to me?” Many experts report experiencing a brief period of self-doubt or a sense of “imposter syndrome,” but that fades quickly. When a new consultant starts hearing positive feedback from customers who benefited from the consult, that’s when they appreciate what they can bring to the table. 

But how do you know if you qualify? Look again at the main types of calls—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Have you ever worked for a big company? Or within a particular industry for a long time? Have you ever trained or mentored another worker? If the answer is yes, you probably have something worth selling! 

How do I set my GLG hourly consulting rate?

GLG consulting rate

Networks pay a lot, but you don’t want to overvalue or undervalue your services! People in the early years of their careers may charge $75 – $150/hour with GLG, while senior professionals typically earn $200 – $300 an hour. Prominent experts are rumored to ask $5,000 per hour, though it’s unknown how often they get booked at that rate.

Worth noting — GLG pays by the minute, so your hourly rate is only a baseline; you’ll only get half of your hourly fee on a 30 minute call, but the meter keeps ticking if you exceed one hour. Meanwhile, they pay out like clockwork, usually 1 – 2 weeks after the call is completed. Keep in mind, the value of your insights depends on what they’re worth to the companies requesting them. Consider the salary for a professional football player. If a player puts butts in seats, they add massive value to the franchise, and can ask for astronomical salaries. They aren’t just getting paid for the work, but for the value they add. 

Deciding on a rate that maximizes earnings without scaring off potential customers is like walking a tightrope. That’s why we’ve written a full guide on how to price your consulting services, covering details of variable and category pricing models commonly used by expert networks like GLG. The more you understand how they earn, the better you can adjust accordingly. 

What are the downsides to consulting for GLG?  

Consulting for GLG isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can be competitive as increasing numbers of qualified candidates enter the arena. Every network has its own internal rules, but if you position yourself well, GLG may send you a handful of project invites each week. You’ll likely only be selected for a quarter or third of them. Responding to invites taks 5 – 10 minutes and yes, it can be frustrating to receive more “no thanks” replies than “yes, please!” For those just getting started, it can seem demotivational.

Let’s take a look at what workers in the field have said about GLG, in terms of pros and cons…

Reviews and feedbacks about GLG 

As the 800 pound gorilla of the expert network industry, GLG receives plenty of public feedback, listed on Indeed, Glassdoor, and even Quora. One of the top complaints about GLG is that work is sporadic, as these reviews on Indeed show: 

Consultation business. Work is infrequent but lucrative.

“Consult for top tier companies. Mergers and acquisitions, general consulting and special projects. Work is infrequent but can be lucrative if available in your specialized area.”

Here’s another one: 

Great company, occasionally get interest from clients. Very part term

“From time to time, someone needs specialized help that I’m qualified to help with, probably only about 5 hours a quarter. However, I’m compensated extremely well for this time. It’s very low pressure when deciding whether to take a project or not.”

A thorough review of GLG on Quora points out a few of the pros and cons, such as this quote: 

“GLG associates are notorious for aggressively negotiating down rates, despite charging clients some of the highest prices in the industry.”

They are hard negotiators on fees and pay less than many other networks. They charge clients a fixed price (often $1,000 for an hour-long call), so the less they pay you, the more they keep. Alas, you still get to keep a lot! 

As mentioned, perhaps the biggest downside to GLG is the process of getting picked up for projects. You’ll have to spend time reviewing and bidding. So how can you boost your odds of getting hired? 

How can I win more GLG consulting projects?

GLG consulting projects
Sharpen up your profile with GLG and other expert networks and project opportunities will come pouring in!

Despite recent crowding of the field, there are strategic steps you can take to increase your odds of winning more projects. The first relates to being discoverable, so take time to research keywords you want to be found under, then create a keyword-dense profile. 

One of the most intuitive ways to get more work is to be the first person out of the gate, so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and respond quickly. Being the first person to reply isn’t always going to land you the gig, but it always makes you stand out. 

Establish trust quickly by being honest and objective. First impressions count! The worst thing you can do is oversell your experience or abilities. Only apply to projects you are qualified to tackle and be candid when asked questions. Never deliver a promise you cannot keep, or you’ll tank your reputation quickly. 

That said, you still have to sell yourself, so be descriptive in all your answers. Provide sufficient detail about things you’ve done related to the project, and include hard data, financial figures, and impact. Show how you added value in previous work situations and demonstrate how you might add value to your potential new client. Convince them that you’re worth the return on investment! 

Overview of GLG

Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) was founded in New York in 1998, originally focused on writing “sector-specific reports for investors.” Within a year, their core trio of Mark Gerson, Thomas Lehrman, and editor Alexander Saint-Amand realized the power of one-on-one consulting, which could often have a deeper impact than a cold, formal report. By 2003, they’d expanded operations to San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and London, receiving a $30 million injection of investment capital to brand out into Chicago, Austin, and Washington D.C., as well. 

Today GLG has a staff of over 2,000 employees and 900,000 experts working for them from virtually all business backgrounds. GLG essentially started the expert network industry as we know it, and it remains the largest company in this growing field! 

What types of consulting projects does GLG take on? 

GLG “serves clients on in-depth engagements and supports GLG’s client base of 1,400+ of the world’s leading corporations, investment firms, and nonprofits.” That client base consists of everything from financial services organizations to corporations and life sciences. GLG has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large projects, they may assemble a tailored team to work on objectives. In other cases, a simple 1:1 call between a client and an independent consultant (aka Council Member) may be all that’s needed. 

GLG’s independent consultants come from all walks of life, with varying experience and seniority levels. They offer projects for people at all levels, across most industries, and from around the world. According to their Why Become a Consultant page, 39% were already working for top consulting firms, and 33% are former execs. Most GLG consultants work remotely and may live anywhere in the world. Indeed, only 31% are based in North America, while 48% live in either South America, Europe, or Asia. 

Consulting Calls

GLG consulting invite
GLG recruiters frequently reach out to new consultants via LinkedIn

Organizations are willing to pay hourly rates to discuss their strategic and operational problems, get market feedback, and test out ideas. This comes with enormous benefits for you as the consultant! They need to hear your insights and possible solutions, so they’re coming to you. That means you get to schedule appointments when it is convenient for you, you don’t have to prepare anything, and there is no follow up. When you hang up, you’re done except for the getting paid part! 

Calls are usually quite interesting conversations that both parties end up learning something from, which is a bonus. Another less tangible perk is simply being considered and respected as a subject matter expert. That’s a status you worked long and hard to earn, so now is the time to reap the rewards. 

Things to be mindful of include the handling of sensitive information. Consultants are not allowed to divulge trade secrets or any information they are restricted from sharing. Everything discussed must be authorized for public dissemination and all parties on a GLG call must agree to know and follow all legal and ethical rules and restrictions (GLG was busted in 2008 for their involvement with an insider trading scandal, but they learned their lesson and enforce compliance strictly, which also protects you from being asked uncomfortable questions by clients). 

Other than that, there are few guidelines on how a call has to go. You’re the consultant, but the client sets the stage by telling you about their situations and asking questions. Your job is to listen and answer, for the length of the call. Not all calls are an hour long. In fact, technically, GLG pays you per minute, so if your call does stretch over an hour (which it often can if you keep the conversation going by adding additional insights), then you’re compensated for that extra time. 

Meanwhile, calls aren’t the only thing you can do with GLG…

Broader Services 

GLG uses Council Members to fill out paid B2B surveys (which can take from 10 – 20 minutes for $40 – $75), attend events or small group meetings, or team up with others to tackle small, complex projects. Consultants are free to choose what they work on. Some only want to do calls; others are happy to do surveys, get out of the house to attend events, or collaborate with others. For those seeking a bit more work, GLG also offers their clients interim and longer-term placements. 

Is GLG a scam or are they legit? 

GLG is a legitimate, global enterprise with almost a million paid Council Member consultants. They thoroughly vet the consultants in their network to ensure their clients receive exceptional service in exchange for the high fees they’re shelling out. 

GLG is one of the oldest and certainly largest players in the expert network sector! They have physical offices in major cities worldwide, thousands of employees, and almost a million consultants on tap. You could be one of them!

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at GLG? 

GLG claims to have paid out $1 billion to their Council Members to-date. How can you get your share? By going online, building your profile, and setting your GLG consulting rate. According to the GLG customer service representative we contacted, the best way to get started is to build your profile featuring “a high-level summary of your background, experience, and skillset in the Biography section.” 

After that, users can work on their Work History section and list detailed descriptions of their work history. Once registration is complete, that’s when GLG’s rate tool appears. This is where you can set a GLG consulting rate that you feel is sufficiently competitive yet fairly compensates you for your knowledge. 

Be warned, GLG associates may try to negotiate your rate down. Do your research on what other Council Members are charging for similar services, then compare against other networks’ going rates. For example, a GLG consulting rate of $300 an hour might run $500 at another company, for a conversation with the same client.  

Benefits of working as a GLG consultant

GLG not only pays for 1:1 phone calls, surveys, and projects, but Council Members can professionally benefit from the exposure to so many business execs and fellow consultants, which is invaluable if you use it as a learning opportunity. Another benefit is access to GLG Insight’s library of high-quality research articles, which can help inform your work with clients as well as potentially your own full-time endeavors. Council Members occasionally get to contribute to these pieces, which can lend additional credibility to your profile (which, in turn, always helps justify a rate hike!).

Some firms provide varying forms of free published research as a perk to their consultants; it’s usually pretty high quality (and in some cases, you can publish your own for exposure.)  

One of GLG’s biggest selling points is its sheer size, because they have so many projects available. They operate in the Big Leagues of the expert network industry, scoping projects for companies both large and small. One of their bragging points is that they hand-select and recruit 200+ new experts a day. There aren’t many businesses that can say that. And because they’ve been around for so long, they’ve worked out most of the kinks and streamlined their process so it’s straightforward to find work on their trusted, compliance-oriented platform. 

Conclusion 

If consulting with GLG sounds like the perfect solution to make some extra money on the side from the comfort of your own home (or from some tropical beach with a mojito in your hand), you’re right! 

Head over to their Why Become a Consultant page to learn more about signing up to get your high-paying side hustle on! 

Guidepoint Global Review – What It’s Really Like Consulting for a World-Class Expert Network

A comprehensive review of Guidepoint Global Advisors, one of the world’s largest three expert networks.

Overview of Guidepoint 

guidepoint global

Labelled as the “experts at finding expertise,” Guidepoint Global Advisors is a world leader in the burgeoning expert network industry. Alongside top firms like GLG and AlphaSights, Guidepost operates on an international scale that significantly expanded after its 2015 acquisition of the German-based company Innosquared. With 80,000 advisors holding expertise in 150+ different industries, this is the company that businesses come to when they need to glean actionable insights from outside professionals! 

Founded in 2003 by chemist Albert Sebag under the name Clinical Advisors, the company initially focused on the healthcare industry before expanding into other sectors. Rebranding as Guidepoint Global (and later simply Guidepoint), the New York-based business quickly opened branches worldwide, including in New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, Boston, London, Düsseldorf, Athens, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. Guidepoint connects business clients in a wide range of industries to advisors who can offer business insights via direct, private phone consultations or through surveys that provide information to drive decision-making. 

Overview of Expert Networks

Expert networks comprise a rapidly growing and highly profitable industry that’s approaching $2 billion in annual revenue, yet few people know that it exists!  Businesses demand a high level of discretion when seeking help from outsiders since they don’t want to give away clues about their strategies or problems. But expert networks have existed for decades, flourishing and gaining more exposure with the rise of the Internet. 

Their business model is simple. An expert network identifies areas where businesses could use knowledge-based support; then, it sources applicable subject matter experts. Next, from its talent pool it draws suitable consultants to connect to its business clients’ projects. These expert advisors charge a set fee to advise clients on their respective issues. Meanwhile, in exchange for arranging the consultations, the expert network company charges a markup to the advisor’s consulting fees. 

Who uses expert networks? Mainly investors or corporate management consultants looking for extra guidance to do their jobs. Why do these individuals need such counsel? Because, if you think about it, a single business decision can impact a company’s trajectory for years. In a worst-case scenario, a wrong move could lead to bankruptcy, but a savvy move at the right time could potentially launch earnings into the stratosphere. Either way, it’s well worth the investment for clients to utilize outside experts’ services, even if a call runs into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per hour! 

What should you expect on a Guidepoint Global consulting call?

Guidepoint Global linkedin invitation
Guidepoint heavily recruits new consultants via LinkedIn

Do advisors really make hundreds of dollars or more just for a phone call? Yes, many do. As mentioned, Guidepoint’s primary service is a “direct, private conversation between a client and an appropriate subject matter expert.” So if you’re selected to join their network, what would a phone call be like for such an expert network project? Calls usually go one of three ways:

Deep dive — The client might be an investor in need of a “deep dive” that provides intel on a given company’s potential for growth or the negative consequences of problems it could be facing. 

Industry overview — Companies often solicit expert opinions on the bigger picture, so they can gain a broad overview of an industry’s landscape before making any crucial decisions. 

Consulting with consultants — Many companies maintain in-house consultants or they work with agencies, but there is always room for additional insights for targeted issues that need resolution. Consultants often reach out to chat with subject matter experts who have no skin in the game and thus can offer objective guidance. 

Keep in mind, all calls are confidential and must comply with strict legal and ethical standards related to such discussions. For example, an advisor cannot divulge protected insider information, nor can customers ask for such non-releasable data. You can learn what’s permissible to discuss or not on Guidepoint’s FAQ page. To learn more about the types of consult calls you might be asked to do, check out our Ultimate Expert Network Guide, which covers the main types of calls in greater detail! 

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

What does it take to qualify as a subject matter expert? There’s no hard answer to that question! If you worked for a specific company or within a particular industry for several years, you probably gained a certain level of knowledge and expertise that others might be willing to pay for. But then again, that would make many of us “experts,” right? Yes, it would! 

Guidepoint serves clients in an extensive range of sectors, so they need an equal variety of experts to advise those clients. They vet every applicant, keeping note of specialized skills and roles from the applicant’s background. Then, when a client submits a project, Guidepoint draws up a pool of potential advisors from their applicable pool and lets the client decide who to try. The point is, let them decide if you are “expert” enough. 

If you’re worried about “imposter syndrome,” don’t! It might seem odd at first to be getting paid just to talk on the phone, but people just like you do it every day, raking in a nice side income. 

How do I set my Guidepoint consulting rates?

The more specialized your role or, the higher up the ladder you’ve worked, the more insights you might have to monetize and the more you might reasonably charge. Those workers who are in the earlier stages of their career or with less specialized knowledge might set Guidepoint consulting rates between $100 – $150/hour, whereas seasoned pros and mid-level executives might charge $300 – $500 an hour. Meanwhile, C-suite types with a work history in major companies could ask for thousands of dollars…and they can easily find clients more than happy to pay that much. 

Remember, these customers aren’t “bargain hunting!” They’re coming to Guidepoint because they need precious insights and are willing to pay a premium for them. It’s a logical return on investment if the information they learn informs a better decision that could save or make them money. 

Keep in mind that Guidepoint doesn’t take part of your hourly rate; they simply mark it up and keep the difference. To learn more about this process, please review our guide on how to price your consulting services!

What are the downsides to consulting for Guidepoint?  

Are there honestly any downsides to earning hundreds of dollars an hour for a phone call? Not many! But of course, the most obvious is that this is a competitive business. Guidepoint’s network is already packed with highly qualified advisors (~800,000 and growing) working in over 190 countries. Some of them get a lot more work than others. 

Consulting for Guidepost (or any expert network) isn’t a regular job with guaranteed hours. You put in your application and hope it matches with clients’ project needs. If it does, you won’t be the only one that matches with it, so you’ll have to spend 5 – 10 minutes to submit a proposal or answer a few screening questions. 

It can be frustrating if your proposals aren’t getting replies, but consultants with the most success are the ones who adapt and keep trying. Yes, it’s sometimes a case of “feast or famine,” so don’t quit your day job! You might go months without a bite, then suddenly find yourself hit with a handful of gigs close together, especially if you have experience in an unexpectedly hot industry or company. 

When it comes to Guidepoint’s reviews by current and former advisors, opinions are all over the place. Many reviews on Glassdoor lambast the company as a “scam,” while others offer rave reviews. It could be a matter of some workers not landing enough projects, even if they are getting matched and submitting proposals. 

Meanwhile, some consultants love it, even though they wish there were more work. 

How can I win more Guidepoint Global consulting projects?

If there is a magic formula to winning projects, it’s something like this: Qualification + Persuasiveness = Work. 

If you aren’t qualified for a particular project, don’t apply and you can avoid disappointment. If you are qualified but cannot convince them, you might need to work on your writing skills to get more projects!

Most of Guidepoint’s business comes from the following sectors: 

  • Consumer Goods and Services
  • Energy, Industrials, Basic Materials
  • Financial and Business Services
  • Healthcare
  • Legal and Regulatory
  • Tech, Media, and Telecom

When Guidepoint vets and accepts new candidates, you enter a talent pool. When clients submit projects, Guidepoint staff search around in the pool to find relevant qualified candidates to suggest. If you’re suggested, a client might scan your information, or you may get a chance to answer a few questions as they screen for the most suitable advisor. 

Having an optimized, keyword-enriched profile will make you stand out if they peek at that. Providing thoughtful, value-added responses to screeners will help you seal the deal. It takes a bit of work upfront to get chosen, but consider it a return on investment. The more legwork you do to stand out from the crowd, the more you up your odds. 

Over time, as you get picked up more frequently, you’ll establish your positive reputation on their platform. That credibility will, in turn, lead to more work! That’s why expert networks are sometimes described as “feast or famine.” Once you get some momentum, it’s easier to keep it going.    

Guidepoint’s Advisors page lists further information on how it sources and matches experts to clients in over 150 countries. With a 90%+ client retention rate, they’re very careful to keep customers satisfied! If you land a few projects, but then suddenly the lines go cold, it could mean that even though you’re matching with clients, you aren’t giving them everything they need, and it’s impacting your feedback. You must make customer service a top priority and treat your consulting as a tiny business. And, of course, you have to be providing value during the calls. The better your reviews, the more likely you are to keep getting gigs! 

What types of consulting projects does Guidepoint take on? 

Guidepoint offers more than just phone consults; they can provide teleconference meetings for broader insight delivery, as well as conduct surveys, offer data products, or even legal services. But calls are what they’re often known for, so let’s explore those a bit more before moving onto the broader service catalog.  

Phone Consultations

Guidepoint works with consulting firms, corporations, hedge funds, professional services, private equity firms, and law firms, connecting them with professional advisors for calls that may last an hour or more. Every client request is unique, but they generally fall within one of the three main types we talked about earlier, i.e., company deep dives, industry overviews, or consultations with other consultants. 

There are strict rules in place to avoid legal or ethical breaches. You can read more about the conservative compliance guidelines on the Guidepoint Compliance and FAQ pages. For example, Guidepoint instructs advisors to decline any invitation to consult concerning their current employer. However, if there is no confidentiality agreement in place, advisors could discuss suppliers or customers of their current employer.  

Clients will steer the conversation, but you as the consultant are legally obligated to comply with all of Guidepoint’s rules regarding information disclosure (and don’t worry, they’ll make sure you are fully aware of the rules and you’ll sign your concurrence before starting!). Indeed, advisors must end consults that violate compliance rules, and will be compensated for the entire scheduled time if that ever happens. 

Besides staying within the boundaries of these rules, you should answer questions to the best of your ability. If the call goes longer than an hour, so be it. You’ll get compensated per minute, so try to keep the knowledge flowing! 

Other Client Services 

Guidepoint utilizes analyst teams to offer their branded Insights services through client teleconferences, live roundtable events, or group meetings timed with conferences or tradeshows. Other offerings include surveys, polls, “Qsight” data products, and legal solutions. Most of these are not typically areas where contracted advisors will play a role; however, once you get on board, who knows what you might be tagged for once you’ve established a name for yourself with the platform!

Is Guidepoint Global Advisors legit or is this a scam? 

Even though their reviews are occasionally less than stellar, Guidepoint is a legitimate business with offices around the globe and roughly 3,250 current clients, of which 200+ are hedge funds, 100+ are private equity firms, and 100+ are public companies. 

Guidepoint vets applicants to ensure high-quality talent is joining their network and adding value to customers. Applicants must complete a training tutorial and agree to a list of Conservative Rules before talking to clients. They also suggest a review of their Summary of Key Rules and Terms and Conditions. 

Once subject matter experts are screened and trained, they’re eligible for Guidepoint to start matching them up with potential client projects! There is zero promise of work, and applicants should set expectations accordingly. As we’ve seen above in the reviews, naturally consultants get frustrated and might leave negative reviews if they aren’t snagging gigs. But keep in mind, that is probably just those reviewers venting. It’s not evidence of Guidepoint being a “scam.” It is a legitimate entity that has created a competitive free market environment where eligible consultants can potentially thrive if they have applicable knowledge and experience and know how to convey that fact to potential clients.

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at Guidepoint? 

Guidepoint does not go into details about how much consultants earn. In part, this is because the consultants can set their own rates. Meanwhile, Guidepoint adds their own commission on top of those rates. In other words, they don’t take from your cut; they simply mark up your services and keep the difference. Do the clients know this? Maybe; maybe not. 

Think about it—most businesses don’t blatantly advertise how much they pay for a product and how much they then mark it up when putting it on the shelves. Expert networks are no different. When you set your Guidepoint consulting rate, that’s not the expert network rate the client sees; that’s the baseline amount that Guidepoint uses to set their rate for you, which will be much higher! 

Conclusion 

If earning hundreds of dollars to talk with customers on the phone seems like something you’d like to try, we think Guidepoint is an excellent place to start! They describe exactly what they’re looking for on their advisor welcome page: “Guidepoint Advisors is an exclusive network of academic and industry professionals who consult with business decision-makers and leading investors around the world. Guidepoint Advisors enjoys a reputation for excellence. We are actively seeking the most qualified practitioners and thought leaders to join our network.” 

If that describes you, head over and fill out your application. You’ll never know how much you can earn unless you try!

Third Bridge Review – What It’s Really Like Consulting for a World-Class Expert Network

A comprehensive review of Third Bridge, one of the top expert networks in the world

Overview of Third Bridge 

In the world of expert networks, few organizations have stood out as boldly as Third Bridge. Founded in 2007 as Cognolink before a 2015 rebrand, Third Bridge’s aim is to provide invaluable business insights, data, and in-depth research services to private equity firms, hedge funds, and strategy consultants. 

During its relatively brief existence, this company has rapidly transformed itself into a global entity with a team of 1,000+ employees in eight offices spanning three continents. Headquartered in London, Third Bridge maintains offices in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Mumbai, catering to the information needs of over 1,000 investment firm clients.

On a mission to “democratize the world’s human insights and upend the traditional research model,” Third Bridge links business leaders, investors, and experts able to share critical insights and perspectives to inform critical decision-making. The company utilizes contracted specialists to provide these invaluable insights.     

 A notable recent milestone is an acquisition of a minority stake in the firm by private equity group Astorg. Though Third Bridge’s three co-founders—Emmanuel Tahar, Joshua Maxey, and Rodolphe De Hemptinne—will remain majority owners, the expansion is a significant milestone in this burgeoning company’s race to the top. 

Though it has its hands in a few cookie jars, including various asset classes, sectors, and regions, most of Third Bridge’s clients are professional financial services firms. According to their site, they conduct over 5,000 interviews each year, covering 4,000 global private and public companies. Meanwhile, clients can access 15,000+ previous interview transcripts. As Third Bridge continues to grow, they need more and more specialists able to tackle the workload. That’s where you come in! 

Overview of Expert Networks

Despite being a ~$2 billion-a-year industry, expert networks are still relatively unknown to the general public. However, the business world is quite familiar with expert networks like Third Bridge and uses them all the time. How is it possible that such a burgeoning industry flies under the radar? Simple—businesses want discretion when seeking expert consultations. No company wants to advertise the fact that they’re looking for outside help or opinions. Meanwhile, those expert networks really don’t need to promote themselves to anyone outside their potential client base. 

Indeed, the only reason expert networks are gaining more exposure is that they’re expanding and bringing on additional consultants. Before the Internet, expert groups recruited talent the old-fashioned way, by making calls and sending letters. Now they connect with talent across the globe through ads or messages via LinkedIn. 

So what precisely do they do and who are they hiring? Expert networks solve information problems for businesses. They find areas where companies need insights, and then they hunt for suitable subject matter experts to supply those insights. That’s all there is to it. Expert networks are middlemen, saving businesses time by doing the legwork to find and vet advisors. 

When a client reaches out with a project, Third Bridge (and other networks) dive into their pool to find prospective advisors. The client selects the one they want to work with after asking questions and reviewing candidate proposals. 

How does Third Bridge make money from this transaction? The same way any middleman does; they charge a fee. In the case of expert networks, fees can be significant! Basically, an advisor sets their hourly consulting rate, then the expert network marks that rate up and keeps the difference. 

Large companies, startups, investors, and corporate consultants don’t mind paying the markup in exchange for valuable strategic intel. Though it is not always possible to quantify the return on investment for such counsel, it’s worth the money if they learn something that earns or saves them more than the consultation cost. 

What should you expect on a Third Bridge consulting call?

Speaking of costs, how much do Third Bridge specialists earn an hour, and what do they have to reveal on those calls? We’ll get into rates in a little while, but let’s talk about what’s covered in an expert network project call first. 

Calls can be broadly categorized into one of three styles: 

Industry overview — Investors reach out to specialists to collect information they’ll use to paint a “big picture” that forecasts activity and informs decisions on investments or other strategic actions.  

Company deep dive — Deep dives are analytical, investigative explorations of target companies or a particular area within a company. Investors glean info on a company’s growth potential or problems and respective consequences. 

Consulting with consultants — Large companies have their own consultants (or contracted agencies), but it never hurts to reach out for additional objective insights. 

Third Bridge posts interviews with some of their specialists, such as Neil Farmer, founder of Farmer Associates. Neil describes his packaging and materials sector as a “minefield to understand,” saying he can “take people through what I know and share it with them so hopefully they can make good decisions, invest in companies, and grow the industry.” 

It’s important to understand that expert networks exist to give companies an edge without breaking ethical guidelines or crossing legal boundaries. Advisors aren’t allowed to disclose confidential or protected information. They must maintain strict standards during phone discussions. Failure to abide by Third Bridge’s terms, or the terms set forth by the client, could result in dismissal from a project at a minimum. As noted on their webpage, their “strict compliance framework is designed to protect our specialists and avoid the disclosure of confidential information, material nonpublic information, investment advice, and defamatory statements.” 

Dig into our free, comprehensive Ultimate Expert Network Guide to learn more secrets about high-paying consulting calls! 

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

Alas, the question everybody asks—do I qualify? We can’t answer that since we don’t know you. But let’s talk about what it takes to qualify as a “subject matter expert” in the first place. Have you ever worked for a specific industry or a specific company for an extended period? If so, did you not acquire hard-won knowledge that might potentially be useful for others to hear? 

If the answer is yes, chances are you qualify to work on projects related to your field or prior employers. The truth is, you don’t have to determine whether you’re qualified or not. Let Third Bridge do that for you. And if you’re concerned you’d be an “imposter,” we suggest you let somebody else worry about that, too! Apply and let them figure out if they could use you or not. 

How do I set my Third Bridge hourly consulting rate?

This is another popular question we see a lot. If you’ve ever gotten a LinkedIn message or seen an ad from an expert network, you probably noticed part of their “hook” is to dangle promises of fat checks in front of you. An ad might read “Earn hundreds of dollars an hour!” but is that really possible? 

Yes, it is! Some consultants do earn hundreds of dollars an hour. 

Third Bridge and their peers want highly paid pros in their network. Why? Because the more your hourly rate is, the more they’re going to mark it up. That’s right; they aren’t looking to onboard people who undervalue their potential. On the contrary, they’re seeking advisors who demand a lot for their valuable time, experts able to talk the talk and walk the walk. If you can deliver the goods, set your rate accordingly.  

Alright, let’s get specific. If you worked in a specialized role or held a position of high authority, expect to charge more. Seasoned professionals and mid-level executives make $300 – $500 an hour in some cases. 

If you were more generalized or lower on the totem pole, that’s okay; just understand your insights may carry less monetary value to the clients. Thus, you might set a rate between $100 – $150/hour with Third Bridge.

What about you C-suite types out there? You know who you are, and if you see dollar signs floating over your eyes right now, that’s because you’ve realized you could monetize your knowledge for up to thousands of dollars—per hour!  

Third Bridge “identifies and interprets the context, narrative, causality, connection, and meaning in data or events.” Their clients are looking for “the signal in the noise,” meaning they need high-end, value-rich insights and are willing to pay top dollar for them. The ROI is worth it if a piece of advice results in a million-dollar decision tilting in the right direction. 

Check out our detailed brief on how to price your consulting services to learn more. 

What are the downsides to consulting for Third Bridge?  

If there’s such a thing as a downside to earning hundreds of dollars for an hour-long phone, then please let us know! 

But seriously, the biggest downside seems to be that work isn’t consistent. Most projects Third Bridge receives from clients only require a short consultation. Even though they have many, many clients, you won’t be selected for every relevant project (and even if you did, clients won’t always select you based on your proposal). 

So, a typical complaint on Glassdoor goes something like this: 

Consulting for Third Bridge is not a full-time gig, and there are zero guarantees of work. Some consultants are getting steady projects; some might only get picked up occasionally. Either way, in all fairness, that isn’t Third Bridge’s fault. Their job is merely to provide an arena where clients and consultants can connect. Whether that connection happens depends a lot on your actions. 

For example, knowing that other advisors are vying for the same projects should motivate all applicants to put their best foot forward during the proposal process. If you whisk through a proposal and don’t demonstrate your potential value to the client, that client is apt to pass you over and hire the person who spent a good 5 or 10 minutes answering screening questions cogently. 

Again, there’s no promise you’ll get selected even if you do spend ample time on the proposals, and that can be frustrating. All you can do is keep trying…or give up. The people who are successful keep trying and get better over time. 

The biggest complaints seem to stem from either miscommunication or misunderstood expectations. Like other expert networks, Third Bridge prorates billing. You might set an “hourly” rate but they pay per minute, so if your call is only 50 minutes, they don’t pay for 60. 

While that seems fair to us, not all consultants share the sentiment:

With a bit of clarity and expectation management upfront in regards to billing, specialists can come away feeling like they were paid correctly. 

How can I win more Third Bridge consulting projects?

The trick to winning projects is to a) be qualified and b) be persuasive and persistent. If either of those is missing, you’ll find yourself on the “famine” side of their “feast or famine” environment. 

What does it mean to be qualified? In their tagline, Third Bridge is about “Human insights. Better investment decisions.” Think of that as a filter. Will your insights lead to better investment decisions for clients or not? Keep in mind, “better” refers to how good their decisions would be without your input. They don’t just want good advice; they want better than average, expert-level advice. They want to hear something they couldn’t find off Google. 


How do you convince them you can provide that? Again, you have to be qualified and persuasive! It doesn’t do any good to be qualified if you can’t convey that to them in your proposal. And it won’t help anyone if you apply to a gig you actually can’t help with. In fact, that’ll lead to disappointment during the call and a bad review for you. Long story short—follow the formula of being qualified and persuasive, and don’t forget the persistence part!  

Take time to review openings carefully, apply for all the ones you qualify for, then write strong, compelling proposals. Let them know you’re the advisor they’re looking for! Optimize your proposals (and your profile, too) with relevant keywords and data points. Put in solid work up front, and it’ll pay dividends over the long run as you pick up more gigs, establish your reputation, and build momentum! 

On each call, give it your all. Add value for that customer, and they’ll leave a nice review that others will see, plus it’ll let Third Bridge’s agents know that you’re a hot commodity worth recommending to more clients. 

What types of consulting projects does Third Bridge take on? 

Third Bridge offers direct dialogue opportunities via knowledge-sharing phone consults and Forum Interviews. This process begins with a client proposing a project to Third Bridge, which conducts initial research to find and connect suitable specialists. Once the specialist is vetted and agrees to work, the consult or interview is set up. 

Phone Consultations

Third Bridge connects specialists to credit investors, public and private equity investors, and other professional businesses via calls that may last an hour or more. Their compliance program features three pillars focused on ensuring confidentiality and adherence to their Code of Ethics. Specialists receive sufficient education and training to know what they can discuss or not. For example, it isn’t allowed to talk about current employers nor any employer they worked for within the past six months. 

Clients usually drive the interview or conversation, but specialists are ultimately responsible for ensuring they don’t breach any agreed-upon rules. Additional restrictions may be placed on advisors who have special access to unpublished work, hold an elected office, or work for the government. 

Forums

Forums are an area where Third Bridge pulls specialists from their talent pool to team up. These teams are devised to offer broader insights “across different stages of the investment process, from idea generation to evaluation, due diligence, channel monitoring, or portfolio work.” Specialists on these forums find and interpret contexts, causes, and connections, extrapolating the deeper meaning behind the deluge of data. 

Is Third Bridge a scam, or are they legit? 

Third Bridge is a legitimate and reputable global business, profiled on Bloomberg as a business that “offers human insights and unfiltered market intelligence to private equity firms, hedge funds, and consultants.” Their board and team member profiles are available to view on Crunchbase, along with financial data and other pertinent information. You can easily find proof of Third Bridge’s legitimacy in the news, such as their senior analyst Sebastian Skeet’s recent comments in Yahoo! Finance on the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at Third Bridge? 

What you charge depends on how much you believe your insights can add value to Third Bridge’s investor clients. If you know something that might save them a million dollars, then that knowledge carries serious value! If you know more generalized information that could help steer them towards better decisions, but won’t necessarily save or make them a fortune in the near term, then set your rate accordingly. 

Expert networks typically don’t dictate what you choose to charge, nor do they disclose how much their consultants earn. Third Bridge is no exception. They just add their markup onto what expert network rate you decide to charge. If you don’t pick up many gigs at that rate, you can always adjust later. If you are getting swamped with invites, you might be undercharging and should give yourself a raise! 

Conclusion 

Third Bridge is a well-respected leader in the expert network industry, with numerous workplace awards. While browsing through Indeed or Glassdoor you’re sure to find complaints, most of those come from full-time employees (usually college grads in their first job) who didn’t like their boss or their hours. 

Contracted specialists work from home, and will probably never have to deal with management or face long work hours. You only take the gigs you want and once you hang up the phone, your work is done. These types of consult jobs can not only potentially earn you a nice side income, but, as Third Bridge puts it, you’ll “gain additional perspectives from the world’s leading investors and decision makers.” 
If that sounds like an offer you don’t want to miss, then check out Third Bridge’s specialist contact page to apply today!

DeepBench Review and Interview with CEO Alden French

DeepBench is an up-and-coming expert network focused on leveraging technology and transparency to make accessing experts faster and more affordable. Founded at MIT in 2016, the company spent its first few years building out a differentiated product. Now that it is gaining traction, DeepBench is turning its focus to driving substantial growth, which has included elevating Alden French to CEO.

We sat down with Alden to learn about his journey to becoming CEO of DeepBench and what makes the company different, with an in-depth video interview that covers:

  • A walkthrough and review of DeepBench’s expert network marketplace
  • DeepBench’s vision and founding story
  • Why DeepBench is investing in building software rather than a contact database
  • DeepBench’s unique and transparent pricing model and how it benefits both clients and advisors
  • Strategies for landing your first project through DeepBench and how to become a top advisor on the platform
  • Advice on optimizing your DeepBench hourly rate
  • How DeepBench is working to create a vast market for expert network consulting

Ready to start earning on the DeepBench marketplace? Click here to register and create your profile.

How to Get Recruited by Expert Networks on LinkedIn

expert network secrets

Have you received an intriguing message from an expert network recruiter on LinkedIn? It could be your ticket in to the high-paying world of expert network consulting. A top associate at Third Bridge shares a behind-the-scenes look at how she pinpoints candidates for consulting projects on LinkedIn and the simple steps you can take to make sure our profile gets found and land more assignments.

Most people I recruit for my expert network have the same question: How did you find me? Why me?

Understanding what expert networks are looking for when they staff consulting projects can help you get picked for many more opportunities. From GLG and AlphaSights to the newest upstarts, the majority of expert network recruiters use LinkedIn to identify potential consultants for their relevant projects – at Third Bridge, it can sometimes feel like we’re sifting through LinkedIn profiles all day long!

Recruiters often rely heavily on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a more powerful search tool that enables us to quickly shortlist a handful of relevant candidates by applying a few key filters. These filters include tons of attributes, starting with your seniority level, function, title, and geography. If your profile matches well with the search terms and filters we use to search for experts, you’re likely to receive a message inviting you to join our expert network and participate in a project.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is every expert network associates’ best friend.

Here’s how to show up on our LinkedIn radar:

Expert networks look for keywords, not stories

LinkedIn provides plenty of space for you to build your profile and capture the interest of recruiters. Yet, we’ve all seen LinkedIn profiles that devote the top summary section to sharing personal stories or even worse, are kept absolutely bare. If securing new opportunities is your main objective, telling recruiters who may view your profile about your new pet dog doesn’t shed much light on your skills and experiences and we will very quickly move on to the next person.

Instead, I would recommend first coming up with a list of your work responsibilities, technical skills (e.g. SQL, UI/UX, Python) and non-technical skills (e.g. communication, time management). Once you have your list, begin populating your LinkedIn profile with them. This means in your About section, your headline, and under each of your respective jobs. Even though this may seem repetitive, it is a crucial first step to getting your profile into the hands of a recruiter. 

Here’s why. 

All consultations with an expert network are focused on learning about a product you have used, a company you have partnered with, or a particular industry you are in. 

For example, consider an expert network recruiter who needs to identify someone with at least 4 years of UI/UX experience for a design interface project. The first thing the recruiter will do is input “UI/UX” into the LinkedIn SalesNavigator filter and the LinkedIn algorithm pulls up the profiles that it deems relevant.

This is the first cut of LinkedIn profiles. Even if you have 10 years of UI/UX experience, if you do not explicitly keyword UI/UX in your experiences, your profile will not show up at all.  

Provide Clarity 

Don’t stop at just ensuring UI/UX is keyworded on your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be specific in highlighting your experience with UI/UX. Recruiters want to know which specific UI/UX products you have experience with, which regions you had UI/UX experience, how recent is your experience with UI/UX, and how experienced you are with UI/UX. This can be done not only in your headline (e.g. 10 years of UI/UX experience!) but also in each of your job titles. For instance, I especially like the LinkedIn profile below. 

Immediately in this candidate’s headline, a recruiter is able to see that this candidate is an “Interface Designer” and has worked for top tier firms. This headline will entice the recruiter to keep reading on. While this candidate could have done UI/UX 5 years ago and is no longer relevant, a recruiter is instantly able to double check through the candidate’s job titles. In each of this candidate’s job titles, the candidate emphasizes “UI/UX”, even in the candidate’s current role as an “Interface Director”. This clearly is a candidate with 10 years of UI/UX experience, decision making authority on the topic, and is still working with it up until today – a slam dunk for a recruiter. 

Differentiate yourself 

Another important reason why you should be descriptive is because it helps you to differentiate yourself from all the other candidates that hold similar titles to yours. In the United States alone, there are over 140,000 LinkedIn profiles with the title “Product Manager”. Even if you work at a big reputable technology firm like Microsoft and believe recruiters will know that you manage a product that’s technical, it’s not enough. 

After all, a Product Manager title is still pretty vague. Even if you don’t wish to write a long paragraph detailing your day to day responsibilities, a simple few bullet points identifying which areas you actually work on is sufficient. In the profile below, even with 6 words, a recruiter will instantly be confident that this candidate can speak on M365, Azure and Virtualization projects. The rule of thumb is the greater the number of similar positions at the same company or in the same industry, the more specific you have to be with your job and specializations. 

The most common push back I hear about doing this is the desire for a “clean-looking” LinkedIn profile. When people say this, they usually mean they want their profiles to only have their company and titles on display. No words or descriptions. These detractors argue that it appears more professional, but the truth is, expert network recruiters are typically fresh college graduates. This means recruiters typically only have a brief understanding of who they are looking for (e.g. 10 years of UI/UX experience), but ultimately are still just matching desired keywords to your experiences. If you don’t provide enough information on your LinkedIn profile, a recruiter will either never come across your profile or move on the next one in ten seconds or less.

Polish your Linked profile

Making your Linked profile look good has more than just cosmetic benefits. It helps make you look a bit more professional, and perhaps more importantly, enables recruiters to quickly understand your background and get a sense of your fit for their client’s needs with a simple glance.  Focus on these areas to create a clean and compelling profile:

Your listed companies: Make sure you’re using the company tag already registered with LinkedIn. This is the one with the company logo, a brief company page that all of your colleagues are associated with. Most recruiters use these tags to find candidates, and your profile will not be shortlisted if you used a variance of the company name (E.g. The Walt Disney Company vs. Disney).

Spelling & Grammar: Carefully proofread your entire profile for spelling mistakes for the same reason. If keywords are misspelled (e.g. Tableau vs. Tablaeu), your profile won’t even show up in a recruiters’ search! So, you could be the right candidate, but who would ever know?

Experience timelines: Unless you are working at more than one company at a given time, having your LinkedIn profile list multiple companies as current employment is extremely unprofessional. Recruiters not only have to figure out which companies you have already left (even the one you listed with the start date of 1980!), but also where you currently are.  It also may disqualify you from a project because of the strict compliance guidelines expert network recruiters have to follow (companies on a Do Not Call list, poaching from a rival company, etc.). This is the sort of guessing game recruiters hate to play; it’s a huge waste of time, so recruiters move on to the next profile. 

Keep it professional: The general rule of thumb is if something on your profile isn’t make you look professional, fix it or remove it entirely from your LinkedIn. Save posts with funny gifs or pictures of your cat for Facebook.

Make it easy to contact you

I cannot stress this point enough. If you want to consult on projects, you have to make yourself easily contactable. Keep in mind that expert network projects typically only last for a week, so you need to ensure that you not only allow recruiters to contact you but that you also respond quickly to their requests.  

What you should not do is make yourself hard to reach. I’ve had my fair share of great profiles that would be instant selections by my clients, however, there was no way to contact them. Some LinkedIn profiles list themselves as ready for new opportunities but set their LinkedIn contact requirements to make it necessary to input their email in order to send them a message or invite. Others even disable all forms of outreach! These are red flags for recruiters, who are generally trying to take the path of least resistance – unless you’re Bill Gates or someone worth going the extra mile for.

You should set yourself open to receiving LinkedIn Mail, which enables recruiters to reach out to you directly without jumping through a few hoops. Setting this feature up also entices recruiters to contact you even if they have doubts about your profile. This is because recruiters will not have to spend their precious LinkedIn Mail credits. You read that right! Recruiters have limited LinkedIn Mail credits every month, and so recruiters prefer to pass on mediocre profiles and use their credits on great profiles instead. It only hurts you not to provide recruiters this option. 

Is your profile worth spending a precious LinkedIn Mail credit on?

Of course, the fastest way is to list an email or even a number in your LinkedIn Contact link. Make it easy for recruiters to understand your background and reach you, and you’ll be rewarded with a steady stream of consulting opportunities being delivered straight to your email account!

How Healthcare Professionals Can Earn Extra Income Through Expert Network Consulting

Expert networks have been around for decades, facilitating thousands of small healthcare consulting projects each year, yet they remain mostly unknown to people who work outside the investment and management consulting circles. These companies have grown in value and influence over the years but remain mostly untapped by medical professionals and companies who could benefit from their knowledge. For a physician, nurse, pharmacist, or even a veterinarian, who spends most of their time taking care of others, you’ve likely never even heard of them. Let’s fix that!

As their name implies, expert networks connect pre-vetted experts in a multitude of fields with clients seeking to gain more insight about a market, a product, or a service in the expert’s area of expertise. The typical engagement is a one-hour phone call with an investment professional or management consultant who is looking to do a deep dive on a topic. The conversations are usually pretty engaging, you can schedule them at whatever time works for you, and you can set your rate at several hundred dollars per hour or more. There is nothing to prepare, no follow up, and payment is usually sent straight to your bank account within a week or two.

These networks operate somewhere between a conventional, big consulting firm and a former medical director who moonlights by explaining the clinical lab testing market to an aspiring entrepreneur. Medical professionals undergo many years of education, followed by specialty training, and possess a depth of knowledge that the uninitiated do not have. The problem is you’re too busy taking care of patients, charting, and conducting research that you don’t have time to seek out other opportunities. One of the best facets of expert networks is that once you’ve created a profile, they’ll generally call or email you with relevant projects!

expert network healthcare consulting projects
Listings for healthcare consulting projects on DeepBench highlight opportunities open to a wide range of professionals.

Expert networks remove the friction in seeking out these opportunities by bringing companies in need of your expertise to you. Consultants often get paid between $200 to $500 per hour for their insights through phone interviews and surveys – others land engagements with more generous compensation for participating in expert panels and teleconferences. (Those few with significant and hard to find experience can charge hourly rates that approach $1,000.) The expert network pays you directly, usually within a week or two, so there are no hassles with billing.

Oftentimes, your introduction to an expert network will be when they reach out to you about a healthcare consulting project they are sourcing qualified experts for. They tend to endlessly troll LinkedIn, looking for prospects who match their project requirements, so a detailed and current LinkedIn profile can help you get noticed. Once you’re invited to register with an expert network, you’ll want to create a detailed profile on their website as well, describing your education, medical training, research activity, publications, or clinical experience. You’ll get an email with a few instructions, and depending on the particular network, your credentials will be verified to ensure the quality of consultants. Most networks will contact you periodically with engagements in your areas of interest.

Typical healthcare consulting projects

The value of these networks is evident in healthcare, which I would argue is so fragmented that you have hundreds of niche industries within it. The opportunities to impact patient outcomes by providing necessary context to those working in the industry’s non-clinical side are limitless. For example, when I first sought consulting engagements, I came across a gig sponsored by a manager at an investment management firm seeking insight into how telemedicine software such as eVisit, Doxy.me, and Teladoc fit into medical practice. They wanted to know how the tools were perceived and what data influenced purchasing decisions at clinics and health systems. After completing an emailed brief, they selected consultants who saw patients or analyzed usage data from these platforms. During a scheduled 30-minute call, the consultants were asked to describe their recent experience using these tools and the features they found most valuable. 

Besides doctors, these types of opportunities are available to various medical professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, clinical researchers, physician assistants, physical therapists, lab techs, veterinarians, and countless others. In another engagement, insight was sought from researchers knowledgeable about a drug in development. Before proceeding with this engagement, the expert network screened the clinical researchers and pharmacists identified by their algorithm to rule out conflicts from prior relationships – either with the company developing the drug or a competitor. The researchers affirmed their agreement to the non-disclosure of confidential data about clinical trials involving the drug before proceeding to a phone call. During the engagement, they discuss the latest trial results and how the drug in question could be perceived by regulatory bodies such as the FDA. From my experience, colleagues who conduct clinical research in a particular disease area, such as diabetes, can use their knowledge to assess drug candidates in other disease areas within endocrinology, such as thyroid or adrenal disorders. Putting their ability to use in a disease area indirectly related to their primary research also helps consultants stay objective and avoid unknowingly disclosing non-public information.

Getting started with expert networks

So how do you land your first expert network project? You increase your chances of getting invited to participate in projects by first making sure your profile is complete. Don’t just paste your CV, instead be sure to describe ways you excelled and now stand out in your field. If a network lets you see other experts’ profiles (this is rare), you can check out the best performing profiles within your niche for inspiration. Gerson Lehman Group (GLG) is one of the older networks with over 600,000 consultants who they call “council members”. While you may not immediately land a project there, GLG works a lot with investors and will walk you through essential industry regulations that guide physicians lending their expertise to publicly traded companies, for example. Networks such as AlphaSights, Third Bridge, Guidepoint Global, and Coleman Research also offer opportunities to engage in fulfilling work outside of clinical medicine. Deepbench and Catalant boast thousands of professional profiles in every industry. In contrast, others like Apex, Dexter Expert, Medherd, and NewtonX are either newer or more specialized and have their strengths. 

The way these networks pair you with clients may vary. Some will list healthcare consulting projects in their online portals for you to indicate interest, while others handpick consultants based on their profile and work histories. Some networks create assessments in addition to the initial sign up questionnaires to determine levels of expertise, while others use complex algorithms to assess suitability for a project. You’ll rarely see consultants matched with clients based on interest in a subject area alone. Most consultants need practical experience to be matched with a project in their area of interest. Did you spend a summer five years ago working on a project on some obscure topic that is now seeing lots of media coverage? That needs to be highlighted in your profile. Clients want to tap into people who can give them an edge. They value the time you’ve put into mastering the scientific method and building your clinical or research skills through years of rigorous training and specialization.

Each network offers a slightly different flavor in terms of the type of engagements and compensation methods. Most meetings begin with a brief on the project. Your response to this brief would help the client cement their interest in proceeding with the next step. Sometimes the expert network facilitates this through a web interface for easy communication with potential clients. If the client contracts your services, you will schedule a phone call at a mutually agreed time. This call is the most common type of arrangement you can expect from a client you meet through an expert network. Clients may require that you complete a survey, comment on a product concept’s clinical feasibility, provide your expert opinion on a medical product, or create a report based on the materials they provide to you.

In addition to the extra income, you may find many of the healthcare consulting projects you encounter on these networks interesting. I often say a project is a match if a large amount of the engagement intersects with work you would otherwise (voluntarily) do for free. This mindset is so vital in an age when a majority of physicians and other medical professionals have experienced some form of burnout. Through expert networks, you can now effortlessly get matched with projects you would enjoy working on in your area of expertise and make extra income for all that time you’ve spent mastering it.

About the author

Dr. Dozie Matthew Ezerioha is a physician, entrepreneur, and digital health expert. He has worked with startups and life science companies for over a decade and founded the healthcare-focused expert network at medherd.com, which combines insights from clinician reviews with real world data to drive the adoption of the best healthcare products.

Setting Your Expert Network Consulting Rate

expert network secrets

Wondering where to set your expert network hourly consulting rate? With expert networks paying rates that range from $100 to well over $1,000, nailing down a lucrative, but not insane price for your time is a difficult question. A top associate at Third Bridge shares a behind-the-scenes look at how your consulting rate impacts your odds of landing a project and where to set it to maximize your earnings.

Getting invited to do an expert network consulting call through companies like GLG, Alphasights, Coleman Research, or Guidepoint can be exciting!  Someone values your expertise enough to pay a hefty fee for an hour of your time.  But deciding what to charge can be a stressful and confusing question.  Do some quick online research and you’ll quickly find (uninformed) opinions on hourly consulting rates ranging from $100/hour to well over $1,000/hour! (In fact, GLG has no official cap on the rates you can charge and is rumored to have a number of big name experts who charge $5,000 for an hour of their time!)

So what should you charge?  Set your expert network consulting rate too low and it’s quite possible to leave hundreds of dollars on the table, while if you ask too much you could not only lose out on the project, but burn your relationship with an entire expert network.  

It’s not a simple question to answer, but if you learn how to thread the needle, you can maximize your earnings by landing the most opportunities at your highest average rate.  

setting your hourly rate for expert network consulting calls
Ummm… No!

In order to understand how to price your consulting services, you need to first understand how expert networks make money and how clients in search for your expertise choose to spend their money. Expert networks are a highly profitable business, and you are their cost of goods sold.  While they add valuable services like recruiting, administration, compliance, and transcription, *you* are generally the most expensive part of every call or project.

As such, it is always in an expert network’s interest to have their client schedule the most profitable consultants. Yes, that means even if you are a great fit for the project, your consulting rate may exclude you from being shown to the client.

In addition, as your rate goes higher, clients are often charged a higher markup to speak with you. This is great for the expert network, as they are able to earn higher gross profits for consultants with higher rates. However, every client has a budget, and as the total price to speak with experts climbs, clients may choose to speak to fewer and/or lower priced consultant to manage costs.  

expert network pricing and markups

In the expert network industry, this is known as Variable Pricing, and it’s how the majority of clients are charged.   In variable pricing, your consulting hourly rate will directly determine the amount that clients are charged to speak with you on a sliding scale. Expert networks each have their own pricing algorithm to translate your rate into the final charge that the client sees (clients will never know your actual rate.)  

While less prevalent, some clients are billed under Category Pricing, where your consulting rate falls within a range that translates to a pre-determined set cost to engage you.

expert network consulting hourly rates by category

In Category Pricing, your consulting hourly rate will fall within a range pre-determined by the client, and the client has already agreed upon the same charge per category. In this scenario, it is crucial you price your rate within the lower category ($199 instead of $200) to increase your profile competitiveness. More on this later. 

Keeping this in mind, here are some guidelines to help you set your own consulting hourly rate. 

Set your baseline expert network hourly rate

Anyone interested in consulting with an expert network is in it for something – whether financial remuneration or just the sheer enjoyment of having someone other than your significant other listen to your perspectives on a seemingly boring topic. Either way, you need to know the lowest hourly rate that makes doing these calls worthwhile to you. For some C-level executives with multiple speaking engagements at the World Bank and are squeezed for time, it’s $1,500/hour. But if you have a lot of free time on your hands and work an Average Joe job, consider your baseline around $100/hour or lower. Each time a consulting opportunity comes by, if it meets at least your baseline, take it – if not, pass on it. 

Additionally, if you’re just getting started with expert network consulting or doing your first project with a new network, think about your first few projects as an investment in business development. Setting your rate on the lower end can help you land your initial projects, and you can ask to raise it to your target rate once you’ve established a bit of a reputation.

Higher seniority = higher consulting rates

Of course, the more senior you are in your relevant position, the more valuable your experiences are. This is because with greater seniority comes decision making authority and deeper insights into topics. Generally, you can increase your consulting hourly rate as you transition into bigger roles, but here is a loose guideline for your consideration. 

GLG hourly consulting rates by seniority

Get top dollar for being THE expert

The best path to the highest possible rate is relevancy. If the consulting topic is on a company or topic where you have deep, current and hard-to-find expertise, this trumps everything.  If we can present you to clients as a top expert with specialized knowledge, they will gladly pay rates much higher than your current seniority would indicate. 

Take a look at a recent search that I conducted for experts in OTT streaming services, and these sample potential consultant profiles that would be presented to a client: 

expert network consulting profiles

Comparing the profiles of John and Jane, both senior executives at top OTT streaming services (and equivalent in seniority), it is clear that Jane’s high hourly rate may not only be well worth it, it could even be a bargain considering the enormously valuable insights she may provide. Instead of taking a gamble on John, who may have limited or outdated experience with OTT streaming, a client will typically fork out the extra money to engage Jane (as long as their budget allows). 

Make sure you invest time in providing detailed highlights in your areas of expertise in your LinkedIn profile, expert network profiles, and screen calls or questionnaires.  It will not only help you land more projects, but also achieve a higher hourly consulting rate for them too.

Consider the competition

Ever feel like you were the perfect fit for a project, but then found out that you haven’t been selected to participate in a call?  You may have lost out to someone who can provide similar perspective…but at a lower rate.

One of the most important considerations you need to have is how other consultants on the same project are pricing themselves. They are the last obstacle you need to get past to be selected for a consulting engagement. Clients will always be presented with an extensive list of available consultants, including their backgrounds and prices, so you need to make sure that your hourly rate is competitive. 

This may seem like an impossible task in the opaque world of expert networks, but if you ask the expert network associate working to staff a project to provide guidance on your rate, they will often happily do so.  They know the average consulting rate of the project, their client’s budget, and who you are competing with for the consultation.

To be honest, most expert network associates try to offer guidance before the advice is even solicited, since optimizing your rate (and their profitability) is a key part of their role. Most of the time they are already trying to guide your rate (usually lower) to match the client’s budget. So all you have to do is make their lives easier and write or say something like, “I would really like to secure this consulting engagement, would you happen to know what rate would make me competitive for this project?” This is also a great way to learn if it’s variable pricing or category pricing, and expert networks will help you price your services accordingly. 

Which brings me into some insider tips! 

Be Flexible

The most successful consultants are willing to change their rate to increase their chances of client selection. If your ultimate goal is to consult for the project, you absolutely do not want to lose out to other consultants. I would recommend coming up with a consulting rate range, for example $150 – $400/hour, and be willing to take projects that fall within that range. In addition, if you see a project through multiple expert networks, consider lowering your price the second time that you respond.

This is because some expert networks compete based on price, and it’s not uncommon to see the same project shopped around via more than one network, especially when the client is carefully managing their budget. For example, you may have been passed over for a project with GLG at a $500 hourly rate, but a few days later you could land the same project through Alphasights by offering to do it at a $400 hourly rate. (This is also a good place to note that GLG is notorious for fiercely negotiating rates lower with their consultants, so you may find that you’ll need to charge a lower hourly rate with GLG than you do with many other expert networks.)

Build a Case for a Higher Consulting Rate

The best time to ask for raise is when you’ve just delivered some highly valuable work. Though client feedback to expert networks happens infrequently, word does get around when you’ve done a great job – especially if the client requested a follow-up call or you seemingly bent-over-backwards to help an associate make a call rapidly come together under a tight deadline.

With a few positive experiences under your belt, you’re well positioned to ask for a higher consulting rate. Try to establish rapport with an associate and call (or less preferably) email them to talk about adjusting your rate going forward. Put a clear, concise and compelling rationale together and have a reasonable ask. For example, you may want to remind the associate that you agreed to start doing calls at a more moderate rate to establish yourself, and now that you’ve gotten great feedback on your first few projects, your track record is starting to become clear. Provide a good reason why ‘need’ more money to do more projects for them, such as aligning your consulting rate with what you’re being paid by other expert networks or that you’ve gotten extremely busy at work and it’s getting harder to carve out time for calls, so you’d appreciate a bit higher incentive to squeeze them in to your schedule.

Be Accommodating

While it is not common practice, some consultants choose to impose additional restrictions to engage their consulting services, such as one-hour minimums and cancellation policies. However, doing so puts you at a disadvantage to all of the consultants with no personal policies. The majority of expert network clients are private equity firms and top consulting firms, and their schedules are often constantly changing. Take note that clients are informed of a consultant’s restrictions beforehand in order to ensure they are abided by. However, as it is difficult for clients to commit to a time as well as guarantee a 60-minute consultation (some prefer a quick 30-minute consultations), you often hurt your chances of consulting with unnecessary restrictions. 

Research the Competition

Most expert networks aren’t known for being transparent, especially since keeping their cards close to their vest helps them maintain top-shelf pricing and fat profit margins.

However, there is a new breed of expert network starting to gain traction by replacing armies of associates with software-powered and fairly transparent marketplaces where clients and experts can more directly connect with each other. Some of these marketplaces even allow you to search the profiles of your fellow experts – including their target hourly rate – which can be a goldmine of competitive pricing information.

For example, search for State Farm agents on DeepBench and you’ll find profiles of nearly two dozen current and former agents available for projects, with hourly rates ranging from $60 – $300. If you’re a State Farm agent, slotting your hourly rate at $250 – $300 will probably position you well to maximize your earnings without pricing yourself out of most projects.

Be Upfront

One of the top pet peeves of expert network associates is consultants who try to renegotiate their rate after winning a project. Consultants agree to a particular rate when they respond to a project invitation, but then after being assigned to a consulting call, they seek a (sometimes much) higher rate or back out from the project stating that the rate was too low. When probed, some consultants dive into long stories about how much they usually make per hour, or how much they make with other expert networks or even how much they previously made on a similar call.

In all honesty, these are some of the most frustrating conversations that expert network associates have with consultants, and they are more likely to get you uninvited from the project and tagged as someone who is difficult to work with than to land you a few hundred extra dollars.

The only thing expert networks care about is what your final consulting rate is – and one that will guarantee you will turn up during the scheduled time. I recommend using the screening conversation with expert networks to bring up concerns about your rate and once that conversation is over, your rate is internally set up and sent to the client. Once the client has scheduled the consultation at the rate sent over to them, any updated changes in rate will have to be accounted for, which is a long and tedious process. So pick a rate for a specific project and then keep your word!

Setting your consulting hourly rate may seem confusing, as you neither want to underprice nor overprice yourself, but following the guidelines above will be an excellent start. After doing your homework and finally deciding on your rate, you should be willing to experiment with your rate! After some time at your chosen rate, try increasing or decreasing it to see if the difference changes the number of successful consultations you have. After all, you’re trying to secure as many consultations as possible in the long run. 

Getting Started With Expert Network Consulting

expert network secrets

Looking for the real secrets to success with expert networks? We asked employees at major expert networks and their leading consultants to share the inside scoop on becoming in-demand expert. A recruiter at Third Bridge shares a behind-the-scenes look at how to establish yourself and land your first projects with a new expert network.

You’ve been approached to do short term consulting through an expert network. Whether you have your doubts about participating in the industry or if you have done a few consultations already and are looking to do more, expert network consulting is an extremely profitable side gig that is accessible to anyone. Who doesn’t enjoy being the star of 30 – 60 minute phone discussions with clients from around the world who are willing to pay top dollar for your knowledge?

Third Bridge Office
Founded in 2007, Third Bridge Group is one of the largest expert networks, with over 1,000 employees across the United Kingdom, United States, China, and India.

As a recruiter for Third Bridge, I recruit specialists (expert consultants) for an average of 15 projects every week. Most times, many new recruits feel insecure about their intrinsic value because they aren’t a CEO at a Fortune 500 company. The reality is that while I have done projects with C-level executives at Google, Apple, and Facebook, I have done even more projects with veterinarians, category buyers and nurses. So here are a my insider tips and tricks to earning your first few dollars or even expanding this income stream. 

How does an expert network project begin? 

A large majority of projects are an expert network’s clients looking into a target company, whether to help with an ongoing internal issue or to decide if it is worth acquiring. These clients are typically a private equity firm, a management consulting firm helping a corporate client, or a management consulting firm trying to identify attractive businesses for future engagements. In order to do so, the client needs to speak with currents and formers at the target company, competitors in the space and customers of the target company. The number of consultations vary between projects: 5 – 20 calls if the client is doing an RFP to win the projects and more than 50 calls if the client has won the project and needs to do strategy work. The breakdown of calls among the three categories is decided ultimately by the client. 

Once a client begins a project, they send out a brief to their top 2 – 3 favorite expert networks to schedule their first consultations. These expert networks will first use their internal database of available consultants and send over an initial list to the client with the hopes of covering as many consultations required by the client. If the client does not like these first group of consultants or needs more consultants than the ones listed, expert networks begin custom recruiting for new consultants. For instance, if a client requests for 10 consultations for their project and select 6 in-network consultants, new consultants are sourced to meet the remaining ask of 4 consultations. So how do you increase your chances of getting paid consultations? 

How to get noticed by an expert network

These expert networks use LinkedIn, The Ladders and Monster as their primary means of identifying potential consultants. The Ladders is a website for white collar workers to upload their resumes for employment opportunities, and Monster is for blue collar workers to do the same. Expert network recruiters, such as myself, spend our entire work day sieving through an endless number of profiles to identify promising candidates. Due to our tight deadlines (as most projects only last just over a week), we prioritize profiles we know would be a good fit for the project and solicit a quick response. In order for you to up your chances of being reached out to, you should ensure that your employment history is up-to-date, your companies are associated with the LinkedIn approved ones (not misspelled or manually entered), and you have a description of your expertise. 

For instance, a client wants to speak to someone at Disney who procures Learning & Development software and can discuss LMS vendors. An expert network recruiter will set the search to only “The Walt Disney Company” and keyword “Learning & Development”. Hence, if you are currently employed with Disney but you have misspelled your company name or you’re using another variety of the Disney name, you are cut from this first process. Needless to say, if you are currently involved in Learning & Development or LMS but did not include it in your LinkedIn profile, your profile will not be shortlisted as well. 

Now, let’s take a look at two similar LinkedIn profiles that come up with these search settings. 

Profile #1: 

Ineffective LinkedIn Profile of Expert Networks

Profile #2: 

Great LinkedIn Profile for Expert Networks

Keeping the client’s brief in mind, profile #2 is clearly the winner. Even though both profiles have a manager title, it’s clear that the person with profile #2 does the decision making when it comes to LMS solutions. In fact, profile #2 will appear for a variety of different recruitment searches for projects spanning from operations to data management. As expert network recruiters have limited time, they will always choose the profile that clearly matches their client’s brief rather than take a gamble on an ambiguous profile that may be who they are looking for. After all, the larger your company, the larger the pool of people who will have identical roles as yourself. So be as descriptive as possible! 

Pro-tip: Many people want to be recruited for these consulting engagements, but ironically, make it extremely difficult for recruiters to contact them. Things like requiring an email to send you a connection or providing no contact information on your LinkedIn profile will slow a recruiter’s process, making the decision easy to skip over your profile for another similar profile that guarantees a quick response. 

Work with multiple expert networks

Getting active with multiple expert networks is one of the best ways to expand the volume of opportunities you’re invited to apply for. Expert networks often have an overlap in clients, but there’s also a high chance they have their own unique clients. Instead of working exclusively with just one expert network, you should aim to set up a profile with as many expert networks as possible to expand your consulting chances. Contrary to how expert networks market themselves, there is no selective invite to join. Instead, it is in an expert network’s best interest to have a huge network of readily available consultants to meet a client’s request as quickly as possible (and to beat out the other networks).

I often get concerns that a consultant doesn’t want the client to receive his name from 3 expert networks, and this is often attributed to the fear of making themselves look bad to the client. The truth is, this is a transactional business and clients often read the blurb describing your experiences rather than fixate on your name and where you may work at. In addition, clients are aware that the best consultants are on many different networks. Read: the client doesn’t care, and neither should you! These clients are prioritizing hitting their consultation targets and you are prioritizing getting those consultations, so it’s a win-win.

You should respond to every single consulting request even if you have a hunch they are for the same project. This is because even if it is the same project, expert networks vary on how they pitch your experiences to the client, which profiles they choose to submit to the client for review and the time that they send those profiles. With that said, clients schedule profiles on a first come first serve basis until they hit their quota. This means that by submitting your responses to all 5 networks, your profile is guaranteed to be looked over by the client in the earlier stages, increasing your chances of getting selected for consultations. 

As you are already familiar with the concept of consulting through an expert network, you should now reach out to one person from each expert network you can think of to set up your profile. Start with the major ones such as GLG, Third Bridge, GuidePoint Global, AlphaSights, and Coleman Research, then identify smaller players as well. All you need to do is send them a note explaining that you’re a seasoned consultant looking to get more projects and attach your email, your phone number, and your hourly rate to be added into the network. 

Pro tip: Reach out to the most junior people at expert networks – young associates who have just joined the company. Even if you don’t match their current project requirements, they are more likely to set up your profile than busier, more experienced associates working on a bunch of projects you are not relevant for. 

In order for you to secure more consulting engagements through the networks you are working with, you have to understand how your profile is selected by project managers from the internal database. These project managers typically scour their expert network database the same way they recruit on LinkedIn, using keywords and shortlisting strong profiles to send over to their client. However, during the first initial creation of your internal consulting profile, only 10% of recruiters actually record the products and softwares you note you are familiar with on LinkedIn. Hence, if your internal consulting profile is as bare as 90% of the others, project managers are doing a guessing game when sending you over a consulting project! In fact, if you often get project requests that are a bad fit for you, this is a clear indication that your profile is not filled up to match your expertise. 

Landing the assignment

Strong profiles are not only the ones that have the same keywords in and meet the needs of the brief, but are also guaranteed to accept the consultation if selected. You should offer to build out your internal consulting profile with expert networks. Upon request, most expert networks will send you a link to access your consulting profile with them.

Invest some time detailing which geographies you can cover, what products and softwares you have used, and which sectors you are familiar with. Consulting engagements are often looking to hear from customers, a product you have directly used and can do a short review on, or from decision makers, who can speak to the decision making process, selection criteria, and how they chose the vendor they did. As projects span a variety of topics and can be anything under the sun, the general rule of thumb is if you can speak to the topic for at least 30 minutes, list it in your profile!

It is also crucial to note that most expert networks do rank their consultants. For instance, how likely you are to respond, how interested you are in consulting, and how many consultations you have done. In addition, it is also recorded if you have ever missed a scheduled consultation, been impolite with a client or caused any trouble with the network. As expert networks prioritize their client’s satisfaction with the consultation, project managers will always choose to send over profiles with better feedback. So it truly doesn’t hurt to be responsive, responsible, and a decent human being. 

Since expert networks only get paid if their consultants get compensated for successful consultations, responsiveness and availability are highly valued. Given the time pressure expert networks are under to deliver, these are a few key aspects we will need from you to secure a consultation with you: responses to screening questions, a week’s worth of availability for the consultation, quick response times to our first email and any additional questions we may have, and quick confirmations to your scheduled consultation time. If you are able to meet an expert network’s needs, your internal consulting profile is bound to be frequently picked over the other profiles. 

A final note

Short-term consulting through an expert network is definitely what you will make of it – nothing at all, side gig to make pocket money or your entire source of income. It is easy to fall into the comfort of passively waiting for expert networks to send over consulting engagements, but if you’re not Elon Musk or Tim Cook, the number of consulting projects you get will correlate with the effort you put in. In order to be successful in expert network consulting, you need to do the initial legwork starting with the tips mentioned above. It may seem tedious and repetitive to do so with each of the expert networks, but your investment will pay off, and you will find yourself consulting on more projects than you ever have.