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

Expert networks, like GLG, AlphaSights, 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 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

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. Known as expert networks, these 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 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 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 consulting request 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 networks

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.

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. 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, ThirdBridge, Guidepoint, and Coleman 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 Hourly 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 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 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 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 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 hourly 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, AlphaSights, and Coleman, 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. 

Getting Picked for Expert Network Projects

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 Client Associate at Third Bridge Group shares a behind-the-scenes look at how they find experts for a project and the factors that go in to whether you’re picked or passed over.

Starting out as an Associate at Third Bridge, I sourced new experts for each project I was staffed on. That meant understanding what types of questions the client wants to get answered, figuring out ideal profiles of people who can answer those questions, finding people who match this profile, figuring out a way to contact them, convincing them to consult, and then selling them to the client. To find a single expert, I typically had to speak with over 15 people – and on some projects a client would want to speak with up to 100 experts!

After getting to know the ropes, I’ve been promoted to Client Associate, so now I work directly with clients. I still custom source experts, but my focus now is on screening experts already in the network to match them up to projects.  

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

With a couple of years under my belt, I’ve sourced so many experts for so many projects at Third Bridge that I’ve lost count! Make life easy for me and and my colleagues and we’ll try to staff you on as many projects as you can handle. Here’s my advice on how to do that.

Make yourself easy to find

Start by making sure your LinkedIn is up-to-date. Associates don’t rely solely on LinkedIn, but we lean pretty heavily on it. If you’re a department or category manager specify which department category you manage. If you’re a CIT/CTO or a high level IT executive, call out by name every software you’ve used, implemented, or researched. If you’re a buyer or procurer, specify what products you have procured. It’s always better to be specific. Instead of saying “in charge of procuring soft drinks”, say “procured Fanta, Gatorade, Lipton and Dr. Pepper”.

One of the under-the-radar places we often look to source experts is customer testimonials, which are a great place to source prominent customers of a product who were willing to offer up there opinion. For example, if a client is researching the CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service) industry, then they will want to speak with the decision maker behind the choice of provider of this service.

To get started on a search like that, I’d often go the websites of top providers to find their testimonials page (if they have one), and figure out which companies use their services. If there are a few customer testimonials with name, title and company listed, it is incredibly easy to reach out to those people to ask them to hold a call with a client. Oftentimes, though, these reviews don’t have a full name attributed to them, so if you do provide testimonials, authorize use of your full name so that it’s easy for us to find you. (If you don’t want to do that, a first name, title and company makes it relatively easy to track you down; never be anonymous.)

Be responsive

Most importantly, you have to be very responsive. Our projects are very, very time constrained. Experts typically think we’re exaggerating when we say that the project is urgent but our clients change priorities (i.e they go from wanting to speak to a customer from x company, to an executive from y company) within 1 – 3 days. So if you’re sent an email about a new project, make sure to reply within the hour if possible or at least within the same day for the highest chance of selection. 

Nine times out of ten, the project proposal emails you receive include screening questions. Clients provide these questions to us so that we can find experts for them to talk to who are on point. While a few clients are cool with an expert just confirming that they can discuss the topic of the consultation, but the majority of clients are much more picky than that and want brief, but very specific answers. You may be a great fit for a project, but If you respond to screening questions with skimpy answers, we’re generally too busy ask you to provide more details and you won’t land the assignment.

Clients don’t need an essay, but they don’t want yes/no answers either. A few thoughtful, descriptive sentences is all it really takes. For example, if one of the screening questions is “can you discuss the competitive landscape?”, a “yes” isn’t enough. Instead reply with “Yes, I can discuss company X, company Y, and company Z in detail”. Clients are looking for company names and figures (averages, percentages,etc). If you provide us with this information, it makes it so much easier to sell you. Selling experts to clients is the most important aspect of the associate’s role, so the faster and more thoroughly you reply, the more likely we are to put you at the top of the list of people that we present to our clients.

Your rate plays a role.

Third Bridge Group Top Earning Consultants
The highest earning experts at Third Bridge Group, through mid-2020

As you can see, experts have a pretty wide range of rates, even amongst the highest earners. There are many factors at play here, but ultimately it’s a function of supply and demand, with industry and seniority being the largest drivers. Some industries are really easy to find experts from (i.e music industry), others aren’t (i.e mining industry). If an expert has experience at a niche/difficult industry, they’re harder to replace and therefore can negotiate higher rates.

The average rate for most experts ranges between $250 to $500/hour, with a typical expert offering 2+ years of experience at a specific company. Many experts, especially higher earning ones, hold managerial roles because clients are interested in speaking with decisions makers.

Have a logical hourly rate. The majority of the projects we receive are market research or due diligence projects, which means the client is looking to understand the trends, dynamics, competitive landscape and future outlook of the industry. Less common are the strategy projects, where the client is looking to enter a market, or to invest in a market, where they are looking for an expert to solve problems.

If the project is a market research project, an hourly rate of $500+ does not make sense. It really doesn’t. It’s literally an hour of your time, that you’re not required to prepare for and that you can make while driving, while chilling by the pool, or while laying in bed. If your rate is too high, it’s not just that the client might not select you but it’s also that we might not even submit your profile over to the client.

One of the most important KPIs for associates at Third Bridge is cost. An expert with an hourly rat above $500 will drive the project cost to the roof and negatively impact an associate’s KPIs. So, we will look for someone with a lower rate, someone with a rate between $100 -$500. The rate for manager-level experts (account managers, sales managers, etc) ranges between $110 – $350. The rate for C-level executives ranges from $350 – $1,000. The $1,000 hourly rate is very rare, however. Typically they’re experts with 30+ years of experience in a super niche industry.

If you are new to an expert network or have only consulted a few of times, keep your rate at the lower end of the ranges provided above as you’re getting started. Once you’ve completed about five consultations and received positive feedback from the clients on all of them, ask for an increase of 100$ – $150.

Experts tend to assume rates aren’t negotiable, because associates make it seem like they aren’t. They are, but don’t take it too far. I once on-boarded an expert and explained that he will be compensated at 110$/hour. He was fine with that rate initially, but then he emailed me an hour later to tell me he won’t consult for anything less than 500$/hour. If he had said that had had thought things over, done a little research and felt that $200/hour was more appropriate, I would have increased the rate to 150$/hour. But to rudely demand an instant jump from $110 to 500$/hour when you’ve never consulted with us, and never consulted with any of our clients before? It ain’t happening. 

Be professional.

Additionally, building a relationship with expert network associates can also affect your project selection rate a bit. At Third Bridge, associates can add comments and feedback to the experts’ profiles. If you were ever rude, mean, or inappropriate, the associate will likely make a comment about it which will discourage others from contacting you about new projects. Similarly, if you were very nice and approachable, associates will leave positive comments that will encourage others to contact you.

I once called someone for a project, and explained to them how Third Bridge is a global company with offices in China, India, London and the US. He proceeded to make a racist comment. I highlighted this on his profile and he’s never been contacted for a project again. On the other end of the spectrum, I once spoke with an expert who asked me where I’m from. Turns out he has previously visited my country, and loved it very much. We spent much of that phone call chatting about his visits. I made sure to recommend him for every single project in the nursing homes industry as it was his industry of expertise (he had great experience as well, I wouldn’t recommend him just because I like him.)

Associates also add clients’ feedback to your profile. When our clients tell us that they loved speaking with someone, we definitely make a note of that. However, if you consulted on a project and received negative feedback, it’ll be added to your profile and you’ll receive fewer opportunities to consult. 

Name names on your profile

Make sure to add as many details to your profile at the expert network as possible. Add every industry you’re knowledgeable about, every company you can speak about, every product/service/solution you’ve purchased or been a part of the selection process of, and add your CV. We use keywords to find people through our network, so use them in your CV or profile.

Something you might have noticed as an expert is that in one month you’d receive 10+ consulting requests, and then months would go by without a single consulting request. The main reason for that is that instability and change drive our industry. If you’re suddenly receiving a lot of requests, it’s probably because a company in your industry is about to IPO, be acquired, is raising money, or there is a lot of investor interest in your industry. A month later, our clients’ interests have moved elsewhere.

Take advantage of that. You know what the ‘hot’ companies in your industry are, and if your are talking about a big piece of news from one of them at work, odds are that many expert network clients are too. Make sure that you continuously update your profile to include new companies that you know about, as well as your relationship to them (employer, competitor, customer, etc.) Read up about what’s happening, and accept every project sent your way. You have nothing to lose. You’re ought to be selected for at least one of these projects.  


To wrap up – being an expert at an expert network can provide you with many opportunities, besides just great compensation. It’s an opportunity for you to network with the most prominent investment and consulting firms in the world. Many people consulted a couple of times with our clients, providing them with great insights that the client decided to work with them on a long term basis. Other people found a full-time job through being part of an expert network. The current Head of HR at Third Bridge Group was initially an expert, and was then offered a job at the company. This is just to tell you to stay open for opportunities, you never know what’ll come your way.

How a “Regular Joe” Regularly Earns Several Thousand Dollars Per Month Through Expert Networks

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.

Though expert network consulting opportunities tend to come in waves, I’ve consistently earned a healthy 5-figure sum from calls and surveys over each of the past six years – I can’t imagine that there’s an easier or more lucrative side hustle out there.  Turns out that you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 CEO to land these opportunities by the bucket load!  

I’m happy to share the strategies that I use to regularly land high paying calls from the top expert networks:

First, Get Found

When investors and consultants turn to expert networks to do a deep dive into a topic, they usually want to get a bunch of different perspectives, which includes opinions from current and former employees, customers, and competitors.   Three quarters of the projects I’ve done tend to revolve around a specific company, with the rest being broader overviews of a market or niche.  

Thus, when an expert network goes hunting for people to speak with their clients, it tends to be very keyword driven.  If the client wants to speak to former salespeople who worked for XYZ  company, they are going to immediately reach out to you if your LinkedIn or expert network profile says “salesperson at XYZ company”. 

Pretty straightforward, right?  

Expert Network Introduction
Drop in the names of the companies, industries and topics you’re familiar with into your well-crafted LinkedIn profile, and you’ll soon have a continuous stream of expert network consulting opportunities.

So think about ALL of the companies that you know fairly well and have interacted with meaningfully over the past year or two and make sure you specifically call them out, too.  Your current and former employers are obvious.  But what about your competitors?  If you spend a lot of time explaining to customers why your product is better than the other guy’s, you’re probably an ‘expert’ on that company, too – at least as far as an investor looking to get a broad variety of insights is concerned!

And don’t forget all of the products and services that you use in your work.  Say there’s a certain piece of software that you use regularly at work.  If you can articulate what you like and don’t like about it and if you anticipate using it for years to come or feel that it’s terrible and can’t wait to replace it with a new product that’s rapidly gaining traction, then you could be an expert in that as well.  Did you recently go through a big evaluation process to select a new vendor?   You’re probably qualified to speak about that whole product category, including valuable perspective on the companies that you didn’t choose to go with!

Make sure you list and regularly update all of these companies and experiences on both your LinkedIn profile and all of your expert network profiles.  It can (and should) be as straightforward as something like, “I am a customer and regular user of Product A, Product B, and Product C.  I recently led my company’s search for a new widget provider, where I evaluated Company X, Company Y and Company Z; I recently signed a new $100,000 contract to buy Company Z’s widgets.”  When I changed all of my profiles to this format, it probably tripled the volume of opportunities that started coming my way!

I want to offer one more important note on listing companies on your profile.  If you’ve had some success with expert networks, you’ve probably done multiple calls on the same topic or company.  Companies or niches that are attracting a lot of investor attention – often because they are about to announce an IPO, acquisition or key earnings release – quickly generate a large need for experts at multiple networks, so it pays to be in the right place at the right time.  If you can provide good insights on a hot company, make sure you clearly detail that front and center on your profiles.

Ok, now that your email is filling up with new opportunities, it’s time to focus on the next step:

Landing the Call

Getting contacted about a bunch of consulting calls is great, but unless you land the assignment they’re not going to help pay for that weekend away.  It doesn’t take much effort to differentiate yourself from the competition and land 50% or more of the relevant expert network opportunities that come your way.

Start by taking a step back and thinking about the two people you need to convince to hire you at sky-high rates for an hour of your time.  There’s the paying client at an investment or management consulting firm, and there’s the beleaguered associate at the expert network.  

It’s pretty easy to make them both happy.  Be responsive, be descriptive and be available.

When an expert network associate kicks off a search for experts for a new project, they shotgun out dozens of emails, texts and calls at a time.  Responding as quickly as possible gets you to the front of the line so there are lower odds of a project filling up before you are even considered.  It also signals to the associate that you will be responsive and make their lives easy for any follow up questions and scheduling.

When answering screening questions, invest a few a minutes in writing complete, detailed sentences. Again, provide the company/product names and keywords that you think they are looking for.  Never provide yes/no answers to questions about your experiences.

For example, a common screening question will be along the lines of, “Do you have experience buying XYZ products for your company?”

A strong, yet simple answer is, “Yes, I directly manage the $5 million budget for XYZ products at my company.  I have been a customer of Company A three years and Company B  for six months, plus I recently met several times with Company C to evaluate their offerings.”

Now, if the expert network or their client are trying to decide between two candidates for a call, are they more likely to pick the person who provides those kinds of details and specifics or the one who simply replied “Yes”? 

As I often get very similar screening questions time after time, I’ve created a document where I’ve pasted every answer that I’ve given.  This makes it really easy to provide quality responses to screening questionnaires in just a couple of minutes.

Finally, now that you’ve made them want to speak with you, make it really easy for them to schedule with you.  Provide your availability for the next seven days with your response and try to provide the largest blocks of time as you can; don’t forget about before and after your normal working hours if that’s feasible for you.  Making it convenient to schedule a call with you will absolutely help you to land more of them.

With your call all set, it’s time for the final step:

Make them Love You

Like any service, if you establish a reputation as a top provider, you’ll always have a steady stream of people looking to do business with you.  Expert networks are no exception, and associates tend to turn to well-regarded experts first when they have a project to fill.

GLG Consulting Projects
It only takes a few quality calls to establish yourself as the top expert in your field – and for the opportunities to start pouring in!

One of the simplest, but most important traits of a good expert is to be reliable and punctual.  I’ve heard from a quite a few associates that I work with that there are few things they hate more than experts who reschedule at the last minute or don’t show up for a call.  It’s embarrassing for them and adds to their workload.  It can take just one missed call or client complaint for them to blacklist you from their entire network.

So find a quiet place, make sure you have a good headset and connection and show up on time.  I also always try to block out some extra time, in case calls run long.  Services like GLG that pay by the minute will keep paying for calls that extend past the allotted time, so it’s always nice to be able to pick up a few extra bucks if the client wants to talk beyond the 60 minute mark.

Finally, I do like to go against the conventional wisdom that you don’t need to prepare for these calls. 

As calls tend to mostly revolve around the same few companies, I like to jot down a quick framework of everything I want to cover with the client so I can lead the call in a comprehensive and authoritative way.  I want to make sure that I deliver a few key nuggets, examples and rules of thumb, as those tend be the deeper insights that clients are so eager to get at.  During the call, I also like to check in a few times to make sure that I’m giving them the type of information that they’re looking for

Ahead of a call, I also like to spend a few minutes checking to see there are any recent news about a company that I may unaware of, so I don’t lose credibility if I’m unaware of a major news story that just broke.  If a company just put out a financial report, I’ll give it at least a good skim so that I know the key numbers and any new strategic developments.  It helps me provide sharper insights on calls, plus I often pick up useful tidbits for my day job as well.

I believe that some expert networks have formal rating or ranking systems that help determine the types and volume of project opportunities you get access too, and perhaps even the rate they are willing to pay you.  They certainly all make note of both good and bad client feedback about you.  So put in just a little bit of extra effort to stand out and you’ll often be rewarded. 

How to Do a Kick Ass Expert Network Call

Getting paid $5 – $10 per minute for expert network calls can create some stress when you’re just starting out.  How can you possibly make every sentence worth that high rate, and will they slam down the phone and vow to never work with you again if you can’t give a masterful answer?

Of course not.  But it still feels good to shine when someone is coming to you for your expert opinion, and feedback on your strong performance will put you at the top of the list at expert networks for future projects.  So relax, and follow these tips for acing your expert network call:

I'm an expert

1. Take a few minutes to establish rapport.  The whole purpose of expert calls is to help clients rapidly get to the deep insights and unvarnished truth that took you years to acquire.  They are paying you well for knowledge, but these calls can still feel like about as a transactional of a relationship as it comes.  Add in the fact that you’re likely being paid by the minute (more on that later!) and you may feel like there is pressure to immediately get down to business.

Resist the urge to go from 0-to-60 and take a few minutes at the start of the call to get to know the client.  Ask a few questions about the client’s firm and try to get an understanding of what they’re eager to learn about and their objectives.  Take a few minutes to walk them through your background and engage in a couple minutes of small talk before you dive in.  It will put you at ease so that you can deliver sharper, more candid responses that better deliver the information that clients are looking for.

2.  This isn’t an interview or a sales call.  The purpose of an expert network call is to provide a data dump of unvarnished information and opinions.  The client wants to know what you’ve seen and done, not what you can do.  You’ve already closed the deal by getting paid for the call, and follow up sessions are uncommon – you’re not selling a product or yourself on these calls.  Give direct answers and honest opinions.  Don’t parrot polished sales pitches that they can find in other places.

3.  Name names.  Clients are looking to get a thorough lay of the land, and do it quickly.  They aren’t interested in hands waving in the air, they are trying to quickly ascertain who’s winning and who’s losing in your industry.  Tell them.  Which competitor is rapidly shedding customers or top salespeople due to bad management or which vendor is winning new business by the boatload with a great new product?  These are the details (and opinions) that they can’t find from a Google search!

4.  They love numbers and rules of thumb.  Again, it’s the knowledge that you may take for granted that they are desperate to rapidly learn.  Investors and analysts tend to be highly quantitative by nature and are often working on financial models to decide if they should invest and at what price.  Many will be excited to validate their assumptions, so when you can share typical approaches to setting prices, estimating unit costs or calculating profits they’ll generally get pretty giddy!  While you need to strictly avoid sharing proprietary information, publicly available numbers or standard industry practices are fair game and easy sources of expert network call gold!

Expert network consulting calls

5.  Opine!  Clients are eager to hear what you really think; tell them.  You likely know much more about the topic you’re covering than they do and they want to know how you think things are going to play out.  Many clients will speak to multiple experts, and they are often most interested in seeing how consistent their opinions are.  This is one of the best parts of expert network calls – you get (well) paid to yammer on about what you think will be successful and what is a total waste of time and money.  

6.  Check in – are you giving them what they want?  You’re getting paid to talk and will usually consume the majority of the minutes in an hour-long call.  Frequently, you may be asked to provide long answers to explain how something works or what you think is going to happen.  Be sure to take a pause once in a while to make sure that you are giving the client the type of information that they are looking for.  

7.  “I don’t know” is a fine answer.  Sometimes it can be a little intimidating holding court as a high paid expert.  You’re bound to get some questions that are outside of your wheelhouse and may feel pressured to fill the air time.  But don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to that question or that it’s not your area of expertise.  Admitting you don’t know all of the answers helps provide more confidence in the information that you do provide.  Many investors have a finely tuned bullshit detector and they are going to quickly disengage (and potentially complain to the network that connected them to you) if it’s clear that you’re just spewing nonsense.  Clients usually come to these calls with a long list of prepared questions and they won’t miss a beat if they need to skip to the next one on their list.

8.  Don’t be afraid to disagree.  The genesis of expert network calls is often someone trying to verify an idea or investment thesis.  They are investing time and money to explore this idea with you (and usually others) to validate if they are on the right track.  While salespeople or investor relations folks will always look to provide positive spin, clients are coming to you for the truth.  Tell them directly when they are off the mark or if you disagree with their core idea or assumptions.  They won’t be offended – generally the opposite – as your feedback could be a valuable datapoint that prevents a multi-million dollar bad decision!

9.  Know your limits.  Some juicy nuggets just can’t be shared.  Sharing confidential information or non-public information about a public company is a strict no-no (in fact, it can be a pretty severe crime!)  So, you’ll need to get that recipe for the secret sauce to yourself.  Don’t worry, every expert network will require you to complete some brief training on how to identify and avoid sharing things that you shouldn’t.  Many clients will start a call with a reminder that they don’t want you to share any prohibited information either.  Most calls or transcripts are reviewed by compliance teams to ensure that no questionable information was exchanged, so you’re not going to feel any pressure to bend the rules.

10.  They don’t care about the clock.  Just like phone sex, you get paid by the minute with many expert networks.  So, while your stated rate may be $500/hour it can be nerve-wracking knowing that you are really making $8.33/minute and that a shorter call could result in several hundred dollars in missed opportunity.  

expert network hourly rate

Relax, the client doesn’t have their finger hovering over the disconnect button, ready to stop your meter from running up a larger bill as soon as there’s a brief lull in the conversation.  In fact, they usually don’t care how long the call runs because they’ve paid a fixed rate for it and have no clue that you are paid by the minute!  Most clients come into calls with a very long list of questions, so you’ll rarely have trouble filling the hour.  

So there is no time pressure; they go into the call expecting to spend an hour on the phone with you.  Take the time to give thoughtful answers.  Let the client set the pace of the call.  Suggest other, related topics that they may want to explore with you.  When you can, it’s also helpful to leave a little bit of buffer time in your schedule in case a call runs over the allotted time – it’s always fun to earn a few extra bucks by keeping an interesting conversation going a little longer!