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

Have you received an invitation to consult with AlphaSights, offering to pay you a high hourly rate for holding a brief phone call with their client? Wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity or too good to be true? Learn what you need to know about working with one of the world’s largest expert networks in our comprehensive AlphaSights review.

What is AlphaSights?

alphasights logo

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

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

Overview of Expert Networks

If you’re reading this review of the AlphaSights expert network, perhaps it’s because you received an 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.

(Alphasights is also one of top 20 recruiters of college graduates and hires large intern classes throughout the year, according to careers site Handshake. So if you’re reading this review to prepare for an interview for the AlphaSights associate program or intern programs, you’ll find this information helpful as well!)

What should you expect on an AlphaSights consulting call?

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

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

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

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

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

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

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

How do I set my AlphaSights hourly consulting rate?

Alphasights consulting fees

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

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

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

What are the downsides to consulting for AlphaSights?  

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

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

How can I win more AlphaSights consulting projects?

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

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

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

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

What types of consulting projects does AlphaSights take on? 

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

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

Consulting Calls

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

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

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

Broader Services 

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

Is AlphaSights legit or are this a scam? 

AlphaSights is entirely legitimate and has a solid history. With offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, Seoul, and other major cities around the globe, plus a client roster featuring multinational conglomerates, they have established themselves as a leading institute in the expert network trade. AlphaSights vets applicants to ensure they are contracting only professionals to serve as Advisors for their clients. This occurs through an Account Manager who facilitates the process to save clients some legwork by narrowing down choices. 

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion 

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

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

Learn more in our AlphaSights video review

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

Receive a mysterious LinkedIn message or email with an invitation to consult with Coleman Research Group? Wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity, what to expect and where to set your hourly rate? Dive in to our comprehensive Coleman Research review.

What is Coleman Research? 

Coleman Research

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

Founded in 2003 by Kevin Coleman, Coleman Research is headquartered in New York, with offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Raleigh, and San Francisco and a network of 260,000 consultants. The company generated $43 million in revenue over the past years through 1-on-1 phone consultations, hosted events, and surveys. 

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

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

VQ Acquires Coleman Resarch

On August 18, 2021 Japanese expert network VisasQ (VQ) announced that it was acquiring Coleman Research for US$102 million to expand its global footprint. Once the transaction is closed in October, 2021, VQ will have relationships with 400,000 expert consultants to serve more than 1,000 clients. The combined company has stated that is goal is to become the largest expert network and will maintain offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, New York City, Los Angeles, and Raleigh.

Under the acquisition agreement, Coleman Research will be a subsidiary of VQ. Kevin Coleman will continue to be CEO of Coleman Research and will join the VQ Board of directors. Eiko Hashiba, CEO of VQ, and Hidetoshi Uriu, COO of VQ, will join Coleman’s board of directors.

“VQ and Coleman have a shared strategy: to become a top global expert network,” said Kevin Coleman, CEO of Coleman Research. “I am excited about partnering and collaborating with VQ, the leading expert network in Japan, and accelerating the execution of our growth plans. We look forward to working jointly to provide our clients with unrivaled service to meet their needs for rapid access to knowledge. VQ’s investment in Coleman is great news for our employees, clients and experts around the world.”

Overview of Expert Networks

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should you expect on a Coleman Research consulting call?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

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

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

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

How do I set my Coleman Research hourly consulting rate?

Coleman Research consulting fees

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

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

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

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

What are the downsides to consulting for Coleman Research?  

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

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

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

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

Indeed also features reviews from contractors, mostly positive:

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

How can I win more Coleman Research consulting projects?

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

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

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

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

What types of consulting projects does Coleman Research take on? 

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

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

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

Hosted Events

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

Expert Surveys

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

Is Coleman Research legitimate or is this a part of a scam? 

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

How much does Coleman Research pay experts? 

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

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

Conclusion

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

Learn more in our Coleman Research video review

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

Receive an invitation to consult with Third Bridge? Wondering if it’s legitimate, what to expect and how much you can earn? Our comprehensive Third Bridge review will show you everything you know to regularly land high-paying consulting projects with this major expert network.

What is Third Bridge Group Limited?

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

During its relatively brief existence, this company has rapidly transformed itself into a global entity with a team of 1,000+ employees in eight offices spanning three continents. Headquartered in London, Third Bridge maintains offices in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Mumbai, catering to the information needs of over 1,000 investment firm clients. Third Bridge is considered to be on of the ‘big five’ expert networks that dominate the industry, alongside GLG, Alphasights, Guidepoint, and Coleman Research.

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

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

Though it has its hands in a few cookie jars, including various asset classes, sectors, and regions, most of Third Bridge’s clients are professional financial services firms. According to their site, they conduct over 10,000 interviews each year, covering 4,000 global private and public companies. Meanwhile, clients can access 15,000+ previous interview transcripts. As Third Bridge continues to grow, they need more and more specialists able to tackle the workload. That’s where you come in! 

Overview of Expert Networks

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should you expect on a Third Bridge consulting call?

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

Calls can be broadly categorized into one of three styles: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I qualify as a subject matter expert? 

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

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

How do I set my Third Bridge consulting rate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the downsides to consulting for Third Bridge?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can I win more Third Bridge consulting projects?

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

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


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

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

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

What types of consulting projects does Third Bridge take on? 

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

Phone Consultations

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

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

Forums

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

Is Third Bridge a scam, or are they legit? 

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

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

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

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

Conclusion 

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

Contracted specialists work from home, and will probably never have to deal with management or face long work hours. You only take the gigs you want and once you hang up the phone, your work is done. These types of consult jobs can not only potentially earn you a nice side income, but, as Third Bridge puts it, you’ll “gain additional perspectives from the world’s leading investors and decision makers.”

If that sounds like an offer you don’t want to miss, then check out Third Bridge’s specialist contact page to apply today!

Learn more in our Third Bridge video review

DeepBench Review and Interview with CEO Alden French

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

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

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

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

How to Get Recruited by Expert Networks on LinkedIn

expert network secrets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expert networks look for keywords, not stories

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

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

Here’s why. 

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

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

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

Provide Clarity 

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

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

Differentiate yourself 

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

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

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

Polish your Linked profile

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

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

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

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

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

Make it easy to contact you

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

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

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

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

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

How Healthcare Professionals Can Earn Extra Income Through Expert Network Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Typical healthcare expert network 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 healthcare expert networks

So how do you land your first expert network project? You increase your chances of getting invited to participate in projects by first making sure your profile is complete. Don’t just paste your CV, instead be sure to describe ways you excelled and now stand out in your field. If a network lets you see other experts’ profiles (this is rare), you can check out the best performing profiles within your niche for inspiration. Gerson Lehman Group (GLG) is one of the older networks with over 600,000 consultants who they call “council members”. While you may not immediately land a project there, GLG works a lot with investors and will walk you through essential industry regulations that guide physicians lending their expertise to publicly traded companies, for example. Networks such as AlphaSights, Third Bridge, Guidepoint Global, and Coleman Research also offer opportunities to engage in fulfilling work outside of clinical medicine. Deepbench and Catalant boast thousands of professional profiles in every industry. In contrast, others like Apex, Dexter Expert, FirstThought, 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 expert network consulting projects you encounter on these networks interesting. I often say a project is a match if a large amount of the engagement intersects with work you would otherwise (voluntarily) do for free. This mindset is so vital in an age when a majority of physicians and other medical professionals have experienced some form of burnout. Through expert networks, you can now effortlessly get matched with projects you would enjoy working on in your area of expertise and make extra income for all that time you’ve spent mastering it.

About the author

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

Setting Your Expert Network Consulting Rate

expert network secrets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

expert network pricing and markups

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

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

expert network consulting hourly rates by category

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

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

Set your baseline expert network hourly rate

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

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

Higher seniority = higher consulting rates

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

GLG hourly consulting rates by seniority

Get top dollar for being THE expert

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

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

expert network consulting profiles

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

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

Consider the competition

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

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

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

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

Which brings me into some insider tips! 

Be Flexible

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

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

Build a Case for a Higher Consulting Rate

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

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

Be Accommodating

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

Research the Competition

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

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

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

Be Upfront

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

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

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

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

Getting Started With Expert Network Consulting

expert network secrets

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

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

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

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

How does an expert network project begin? 

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

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

How to get noticed by an expert network

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

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

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

Profile #1: 

Ineffective LinkedIn Profile of Expert Networks

Profile #2: 

Great LinkedIn Profile for Expert Networks

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

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

Work with multiple expert networks

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

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

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

As you are already familiar with the concept of consulting through an expert network, you should now reach out to one person from each expert network you can think of to set up your profile. Start with the major ones such as GLG, Third Bridge, GuidePoint Global, AlphaSights, and Coleman Research. Next, there is a growing list of rapidly growing networks that you should take a look at as well, such as proSapient, Atheneum, Dialectica, NewtonX, and DeepBench. 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.

Get the same project twice? Apply twice.

Sometimes, you’ll receive very similar looking project invitations from multiple firms. Be sure to respond to all of them!

When larger clients submit projects, they sometimes bulk send them to every firm that they work with (some use as many as 15 networks). When the initial project pitch comes in, many clients provide very minimal information, such as their general goal for the project, some companies advisors/consultants may have experience at, and some job titles that may be best suited (outside of the obvious like VP of sales but more niche like “Director of federal sales” and such).

The networks will quickly flip this information back out to experts like you, sometimes with verbatim project descriptions. You should respond to any and every project invite for which you’re qualified. You don’t know which firms are going to submit your profile to the client, nor if they’ll even have the opportunity to present candidates before the project is fully staffed. There are no risks to you in submitting your profile to multiple networks, only increased odds of landing assignments.

Additionally, most networks have internal notes that allow them to see how you’ve responded to previous project invitations and questions (this is all internal). This allows them to reference your profiles going forward and see your responses. So if they asked three months ago if you were a customer of X company, they can reference this down the road and confirm you are still a customer or proactively flag your profiles if you responded recently.

Note that multiple requests often come from the hungrier, second tier networks, many of which are growing quite rapidly. It’s worthwhile to create profiles with some of these, such as Dialectica, Atheneum Partners, proSapient, DeepBench, Ridgetop Research, Magellan Research, and NewtonX.

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

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.