An in-depth review of AlphaSights, one of the world’s fast-growing international expert network
Overview of AlphaSights
AlphaSights is one of the largest expert networks, and is considered to be one of the “the big five” firms that dominate the nearly $2 billion industry. Some industry estimates name AlphaSights as the second largest expert network after behemoth GLG.
Co-founded in London, England in 2008 by Max Cartellieri (also the founder of Ciao AG) and Andrew Heath (founder of GoIndustry). Within a handful of years, they launched branches in New York, Hong Kong, Dubai, San Francisco, Seoul, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Shanghai, connected clients around the world with experts across countless business sectors. Cited in 2017 by Financial Times as one of Europe’s fasting growing companies, AlphaSights calls itself a “professional services firm.” Its mission statement? “To connect the world’s top professionals with the world’s best knowledge: reflecting our fundamental belief in the power of connecting humanity’s knowledge.”
Overview of Expert Networks
If you’re reading this review of the AlphaSights “expert network,” perhaps it’s because you received a LinkedIn invitation to be an expert consultant or Advisor. Now you’re doing your due diligence to research the company and see if AlphaSights is legitimate or if you’ve been targeted by some type of scam. Maybe you aren’t certain if such networks are an actual thing! The concept seems too good to be true—a company that pays you hundreds of dollars an hour for consulting other companies?
Well, expert networks are a nearly $2 billion global industry, and as one of the biggest firms, you can rest assured that AlphaSights is legit. They build a giant pool of subject matter experts, then, as a sort of middleman agency, they advertise that pool to organizations that might need services. There’s nothing mysterious about it; it is a business model we see every day and think nothing of it. (That said, online scams are certainly prolific, so you should be suspicious if someone asks you for money or payment information to participate with an expert network!)
Management consultants and investors are the primary clients of expert networks like AlphaSights, with corporate customers representing a small but growing customer segment. One major business decision can drive a company’s entire trajectory, make or break them, earn (or cost) them millions in revenue. That’s why clients typically pay AlphaSights $1,000 per hour or more to source experts like you. While the hourly cost seems quite high, it is a trivial amount to spend to gain insights that shape multi-million dollar (or more) decisions!
It isn’t just management consultants within companies that seek out experts for advice; investors do, too. AlphaSights’ clients are looking for the “straight dope” from seasoned pros who’ve had their boots on the ground inside a specific sector and can speak truth to power without fear of ramifications or a need to please the boss.
When an AlphaSight’s associate reaches out to you with the promise of sky-high rates for an hour of your time, they’re not exaggerating. Many experts charge $250 – $500 for a one hour phone call, with lower rates for younger professionals and significantly higher ones for very senior executives or people with very specialized expertise.
What should you expect on an AlphaSights consulting call?
How do phone call consults go for an expert network project? There are three types of calls you can expect. The first is a request for a “company deep dive”; the next is a much broader industry overview. The last is a consultation with other subject matter experts (sometimes called knowledge bomb conversations. See our Ultimate Expert Network Guide to learn more about those).
The deep dive is of particular interest to potential investors looking for keen insights into a specific company before deciding to sink money into it. Industry overviews help paint a big picture about a sector’s customers and future. Calls from other experts empower firms to improve offerings; essentially, they borrow your expertise to boost their credibility in their customers’ eyes during times of change or crisis.
It’s important to note that confidential calls are held to a high compliance standard, and consultants should not disclose privileged information. They can dive into complex financial data, and possibly personal insights about management, strategy, customer complaints (or other information that is releasable yet may not be published on reports), though. When an AlphaSights call is finished, the Advisor’s obligation is over and payment is sent within a few days!
Do I qualify as a subject matter expert?
When expert advisors get started, it is common for them to wonder if they possess knowledge a company or investor would pay to hear. Some go through a phase of “imposter syndrome,” as if they are simply pretending to be experts. Luckily this feeling goes away fairly quickly, especially when the checks start rolling in.
There are thousands of clients in need of all types of insights and feedback. They receive significant benefits from reaching out to consultants. If they didn’t, expert networks wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry. But how can you be sure you qualify? Well, we’ve talked about the three main types of calls that are made—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Most of us who’ve worked within a particular company or in a specific sector for a few years have gleaned unique knowledge from those experiences. That knowledge has value and is marketable!
How do I set my AlphaSights hourly consulting rate?
If you’ve been working for only a handful of years for a particular company or sector, you might set an hourly rate between $100 – $150/hour with AlphaSights. Seasoned members can charge up to $300 – $500 an hour, while major corporate players might ask for thousands of dollars.
When choosing what you feel is a reasonable rate, keep in mind three things. One, customers aren’t looking for the cheapest rates; they are looking for the best value. Two, your insights may drive a decision that could be worth millions of dollars, so don’t undervalue your services! Three, remember that AlphaSights will markup your services considerably.
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to set your expert network hourly rate, which dives into the weeds on pricing models. The better you understand how pricing works, the more you can set an AlphaSights consulting rate that fairly compensates you yet doesn’t scare off clients.
What are the downsides to consulting for AlphaSights?
AlphaSights operates a large, competitive network filled with highly-qualified advisors. There is no guarantee of work, and it takes time to establish your reputation. You may receive invites to bid on projects, but it can get frustrating to spend 5 – 10 minutes each time, tailoring and polishing up bids that get rejected. The trick is to learn from each experience and be persistent.
Like many expert networks, project opportunities through AlphaSights tend to be feast or famine so it’s hard to count on this revenue and not uncommon to go for very long stretches without landing a project. On the flipside, if you’re a top expert on a hot topic or company, you may briefly find yourself inundated with project requests.
How can I win more AlphaSights consulting projects?
To get hired more often, it pays to be discovered! This means optimizing your Advisor profile with relevant keywords and search terms. Ensure your profile is concise, impactful, persuasive, and error-free. It should feature a strong summary of employment history and relevant knowledge. Read a few profiles of high-priced consultants in your field and borrow ideas that apply. Then, if needed, hire a writer to help you punch your draft up!
AlphaSights’ Client Service Team works hard to connect clients with industry experts who can offer the right answers. You must be proactive and keep an eye out for opportunities, then get your proposals out the door! However, don’t cut-and-paste generic wording. Take time to tailor the phrasing so you’re speaking to the client’s unique needs. Yes, that takes longer, but the return on investment will be higher. And the more consultations you complete, the more feedback you’ll receive. Those feedbacks help you land work!
As you put out proposals, you’ll walk a fine line between selling yourself and staying objective about your qualifications. Every client is different, but they all value honesty, so be clear about what you can offer without promising the moon and stars. Give concrete examples from your past that feature hard numbers and the tangible impacts your work made. Show how your knowledge can add value and is worth the price of admission.
Now that we know who can afford those high-priced consults, let’s explore what types of consults are available!
What types of consulting projects does AlphaSights take on?
AlphaSights offer a wide range of services, via their network of external industry experts. Not all of AlphaSights’s “knowledge-holders” aka Advisors are C-suite types. Expert advisors are pulled from all levels of virtually every business sector. They come from all backgrounds and different countries to engage with clients remotely, running the gamut from market intelligence, broad industry perspectives, specific organizational insights, and general advice to inform decision-making.
The types of projects they take on are as varied as their massive client roster, which means AlphaSights has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large scope projects, they might put together a team, but in general, you might expect to do 1:1 calls starting out.
Clients use AlphaSights to connect with advisors and hear insights and solutions. Advisors get to decide what projects to take on, and what times are mutually convenient to do the calls (though it pays to be flexible). There’s nothing to prepare, though it can be helpful to do some research ahead of time for specific projects. Once a call is over, there’s nothing more to do except kick back and wait to get paid.
Expert advisors get more than financial compensation, though. They gain invaluable opportunities to expand their own network, build relationships, hone their skills, and learn new things. With each call, the consultant adds value to their own portfolio.
As mentioned above, all parties must be very mindful of avoiding compliance pitfalls. Clients can’t ask for sensitive or protected information such as trade secrets, and advisors can’t share it. Parties on an AlphaSights call are obligated to comply with ethical rules and legal restrictions. Apart from that, the direction of the call is largely up to the client. They might have an endless stream of questions, or might want to learn what types of questions they should be asking! You’re paid to listen, respond to the best of your ability, and let the call go on for as long as it needs until the client is ready to get off the line. Again, AlphaSights pays per minute, so you’re compensated if a call stretches over the standard hour.
AlphaSights states that they “source and qualify the best industry experts for our clients to speak to via phone, in-person meetings, and full-day workshops.” In-person meetings are similar to phone consultations but are sometimes more suitable (except when there’s a pandemic going on!). For now, we won’t dive too much into the workshops, lucrative though they may be. Most Advisors start doing phone consults, so that’s the best place to focus your energies until your reputation on the platform is secured.
Is AlphaSights legit or are this a scam?
AlphaSights is entirely legitimate and has a solid history. With offices worldwide and a client roster featuring multinational conglomerates, they have established themselves as a leading institute in the expert network trade. AlphaSights vets applicants to ensure they are contracting only professionals to serve as Advisors for their clients. This occurs through an Account Manager who facilitates the process to save clients some legwork by narrowing down choices.
AlphaSights model is also helpful because of its discretion. Instead of a business casting a wide net in its search for independent advisors, it can simply go through AlphaSights and limit the number of people hearing about the request. In today’s business world, news of a company seeking outside advice can create a buzz. So, even though AlphaSights is serving thousands of clients every day, their business, by nature, is somewhat discrete.
How much should I charge, and how much can I earn at AlphaSights?
AlphaSights, like other expert networks, doesn’t explicitly list a lot of details about how much their consultants make. If you think about it, why would they? They don’t want customers to see the markups! Again, expert networks earn a living by charging a substantial markup on the amount that they actually pay out to the folks doing the work.
So what should you charge? Set your expert network rate too low and it’s quite possible to leave hundreds of dollars on the table, while if you ask too much you could not only lose out on the project, but burn your relationship with an entire expert network.
It’s not a simple question to answer, but if you learn how to thread the needle, you can maximize your earnings by landing the most opportunities at your highest average rate. The best way to decide upon an hourly rate is to get started on your account. To do that, you can reach out to AlphaSights via their Contact Us form. Under the options, select that you are interested in being a potential Advisor. If they reach out to you to create a profile, you should be able to review other profiles and gauge the going rates for industry experts with comparable backgrounds.
If you have experience-based knowledge and insights worth sharing, hopefully this AlphaSights review has shown that you can probably connect you to customers who’ll pay for it. It doesn’t get any better than earning a few hundred an hour to hold a business discussion with a stranger!
AlphaSights likely doesn’t want to deal with a flood of candidates banging on their door, so their process is not overt. Their website is aimed at business clients, not at recruiting Advisors. However, if you reach out to them via their Contact Us form, you should hear back from a rep soon. You’ll never know until you try!