Have you received an invitation to consult with expert network GLG? Learn what to expect if you work with the world’s largest expert network, how to set your consulting rate, and land a steady stream of quick, high-paying surveys, phone calls and small projects in our GLG review.
What is GLG?
Expert networks like GLG (rebranded from Gerson Lehrman Group) are well-compensated matchmakers who can help you capitalize on your subject matter expertise. GLG is by far the largest expert networks and one of the oldest firms in the industry. There are over 140 expert network companies around the world today, raking in nearly $2 billion in annual revenue by connecting their clients with expert consultants like you.
Expert networks help their clients – mostly investment managers and management consulting firms – find and connect with subject matter experts in practically any field so they can develop a firsthand understanding of a product, company or market. Clients often want to connect with experts to explore investment ideas, perform due diligence, or help craft strategy.
The most common form of engagement is a 1:1 consulting call between you and client, where you can often set your rate at several hundred dollars for a single hour, and in some cases exceed $1,000. GLG also facilitates a high volume of paid business surveys on a wide range of topics, which often pay $40 – $70 for about 15 minutes of your time. Higher paying on-site visits and brief consulting projects are also becoming increasingly common offerings.
It’s quite easy to earn several thousand dollars per year via GLG, while working just a few hours per month.
At this point in the conversation, a few giant red flags may be waving in front of your eyes, such as:
- 🚩 This is clearly a scam. No one legit is going to pay me $500 for a phone call, especially off of LinkedIn.
- 🚩 There’s no way they want me. I can’t possibly be qualified for this. No way someone would pay me that much.
- 🚩 This must be illegal. They’re just trying to get me to reveal all of my company’s secrets. I’m not going to jail!
So before we get into the nitty gritty of working with GLG, let’s debunk these very common myths. (Don’t need convincing? Skip to the details on what’s involved in working with GLG.)
Is GLG consulting legit or a scam?
If you’ve received a paid expertise request via LinkedIn or email from an associate with the GLG expert network, you might be skeptical. These invites offer to pay you hundreds of dollars per hour just to share your insights with GLG’s clients. Just answer a short online questionnaire or have a quick call with an associate, and you’re ready to go.
First of all, the reason a GLG associate contacted you via LinkedIn is because that’s where you made it easy to for your experience and expertise to be found. You didn’t spend all that time crafting your LinkedIn profile just for fun, did you? LinkedIn has proven to be such as an effective tool for expert networks to source potential experts that GLG and most other firms employ small armies of associates whose job mostly entails searching and outreach almost exclusively on that platform. In fact, several large expert networks are often amongst the employers of new college grads, specifically because of this role. (And if you want to make it even easier for them to find you, check out our guide to LinkedIn for expert network consultants.)
So now you know how GLG found you, but those lofty consulting rates still sound too good to be true, right?
Well, GLG can easily afford the lucrative payouts they offer for in-demand industry insights. They charge a sizable markup for your services, reaching up to 70% contribution margins. For example, an expert’s consulting rate might be $300 per hour, but GLG often charges its clients $1,000+ per hour for facilitating the call.
GLG clients are willing to pay these rates because even a single critical decision can them earn (or lose) millions of dollars. In comparison, paying you hundreds of dollars in consulting fees is peanuts.
Plus, GLG makes it easy to get paid with a just a few clicks needed in their online interface. You can choose from a few different payment options, including direct deposit to your bank account. There are no sneaky payment fees and you’ll receive your money within a week or two of completing your call or survey. I’ve been paid hundreds of times by GLG without incident or delay, and you’ll be hard pressed to find complaints about experts getting stiffed by the company.
Am I qualified to be a GLG expert?
After learning that expert networks are legitimate, many struggle to believe they have knowledge worth someone else’s money. It’s the biggest question we ask ourselves: “Why would someone pay so much just to talk to me?”
Many experts report self-doubt or a sense of “imposter syndrome,” but that fades quickly. When you start hearing positive feedback from customers who benefited from your consultation, you’ll start to appreciate what you bring to the table.
But how do you know if you qualify? Ask yourself:
- Have you ever worked for a big company?
- Ever worked within a particular industry for a long time?
- Have you ever trained or mentored another worker?
If the answer is yes, you’re probably well-qualified to share your insights as a GLG consultant! Most clients are parachuting into a brand new area to them. They’re often excited to learn about banal decisions that you’ve been making for years.
For example, that could be things like:
- How you allocate your budget
- What goes into pricing decisions
- Which products do you expect to spend more or less on
A good rule of thumb is if there’s a topic that you could give a 30-minute prevention on, then you are probably qualified to consult on that area for GLG.
GLG’s independent consultants come from all walks of life, with varying experience and seniority levels. According to GLG’s Why Become a Consultant page, 39% work for top consulting firms, and 33% are former execs.
Most GLG consultants work remotely and may live anywhere in the world. Only 31% are based in North America, while 48% live in either South America, Europe, or Asia.
Want to be in demand for more high-paying projects? Learn how to deliver a kick-ass expert network client call.
GLG and Insider Trading
Ok, so your skepticism is fading away as you gain comfort with how GLG found you, why they’ll pay you so much, and how you’re actually quite qualified for this opportunity. But one BIG question remains: Is this legal?
So let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, GLG was a big part of the largest insider trading conviction in U.S. history.
However, that happened more than a dozen years ago and GLG turned a potentially bad situation around, not only by redoubling its compliance efforts to ensure that similar incidents would be preventable, but also by diversifying its focus, brand and client base beyond Wall Street and into Fortune 500 companies and major law firms. The industry as a whole has followed their lead by making rigorous expert network compliance screening, training and monitoring a cornerstone of their product offerings.
Compliance monitoring and screening is now a very core part of what GLG and other expert networks offer their clients, and it has even enabled them to boost their sky-high rates even higher. In addition, expert network calls tend to be a compliance point of emphasis at nearly every investment firm that uses them, meaning the content (including recordings and transcripts) may be scrutinized to make sure the client didn’t ask for or receive any inappropriate information. They don’t want it or the hassle that comes with it.
More importantly, though, 99% of expert network interactions don’t go anywhere near non-public information that can get folks in trouble (and that ‘trouble’ is almost never near the level of people getting taken away in handcuffs.). Many new expert network consultants are often amazed at how simple the questions the receive are. Remember, most clients are often brand new to a topic themselves, and looking to master the very basics with your help.
Calls with GLG clients aren’t nefarious. They aren’t trying to trick you or gain secret information. The clients don’t want it and there are many compliance practices and people involved to make sure it doesn’t happen.
So, now that we’ve debunked all of the reasons to not work with GLG, let’s get into what’s actually involved.
What types of consulting projects does GLG offer?
GLG “serves clients on in-depth engagements and supports GLG’s client base of 1,400+ of the world’s leading corporations, investment firms, and nonprofits.” That includes everything from financial services organizations to life science companies.
The bread and butter of expert networks like GLG are 1:1 calls between a client and consultant (aka Network Member). You may also regularly be invited to participate in short, paid surveys – these are especially popular for folks in information technology. And, GLG is increasingly creating larger, even higher paying opportunities for things like client site visits, special conference appearances, expert witness testimony, and small consulting projects.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of projects GLG offers its consultants.
GLG Consulting Calls
During GLG consulting calls, organizations want to discuss their strategic and operational problems, get market feedback, and test out ideas. They want to hear your insights and possible solutions.
So, what does an expert do during a one-hour client call for an expert network project? Essentially, one of three things:
- Company deep dive: Requests for these often come from someone outside of a company, like an investor deciding what position to take. They go into hard numbers, insights about management, customer sentiments on a product or service, and other data not found in reports.
- Industry overview: These are much broader. Requests for these often come from companies that want to speak with several consultants so they can form a big picture about an industry, its customers, and its future.
- Consult with other consultants: These requests come from consulting firms that want to improve offerings to their clients. In other words, they offer expert services but need to “phone a friend” when a new product is launched or something isn’t going according to plan. We explore these “knowledge bomb” conversations in our Ultimate Expert Network Guide.
You get to schedule these appointments when it’s convenient, you don’t have to prepare anything, and there’s no follow-up. When you hang up, all that’s left is to get paid!
Just be mindful of the handling of sensitive information. You’ll need to complete GLG’s brief online compliance training before engaging with your first client, which is there to protect you, the client, and GLG.
Among other requirements, you may not discuss your current employer with clients or divulge non-public information. Fortunately, clients don’t want to know this information (it can cause compliance problems for them) and will remind you not to share it.
Other than that, your job is to listen and answer for the length of the call. You’re the consultant, but the client sets the stage by telling you about their situations and asking questions.
Not all calls are an hour long. In fact, GLG technically pays you per minute, so if your call does stretch over an hour (which it often can if you keep the conversation going by adding additional insights), then you’re compensated for that extra time.
GLG surveys and other projects
In addition to client calls, GLG facilitates a high volume of paid surveys, which usually pay between $40 – $80 and take 10 to 20 minutes to complete. The highest-earning consultants I’ve met often earn more from frequent surveys than from client calls!
These B2B surveys tend to be about your views on certain product categories or your budget and spending. There are surveys across a broad range of topics, but those targeting information technology professionals and physicians seem particularly popular.
Though less common than calls and surveys, GLG will also sometimes invite experts to attend events and small group meetings or team up with other experts to tackle small, complex projects.
How can I win more GLG consulting projects?
Despite the recent crowding of the field, you can increase your odds of winning expert network projects with a few strategic steps. Some of the most significant include:
- Make yourself discoverable: Take the time to research keywords you want to be associated with and create a profile on the platform that’s optimized for related searches.
- Be first to respond: Being one of the first to respond to requests isn’t always going to land you the gig, but it does make you stand out. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and respond to them quickly.
- Make a good first impression: Be honest and objective from the start. The worst thing you can do is oversell your experience or abilities. Only apply to projects you are qualified to tackle and be candid when asked questions. Never deliver a promise you cannot keep, or you’ll tank your reputation quickly.
Ultimately, you have to find ways to sell yourself. Show how you’ve added value in previous work situations and demonstrate how you might add value to your potential new client. Convince them that you’re worth the return on investment!
How do I set my GLG consulting rate?
Expert networks pay a lot, but you don’t want to overvalue or undervalue your services. People in the early years of their careers may charge $75 – $150/hour with GLG, while more experienced professionals typically earn $250 – $300 an hour.
With more significant experience and specialized expertise, that rate can climb to $500 or more. A handful of prominent experts – think former government officials or Fortune 500 CEOs – are rumored to ask $5,000 for an hour of their time via expert networks!
Just be aware that GLG is notorious for being stingy on rates. You may have trouble landing projects at $500+/hour, even if you frequently earn that amount from other expert networks, such as Guidepoint and AlphaSights.
And remember, GLG pays by the minute, so your hourly rate is only a baseline; you’ll only get half of your hourly fee on a 30-minute call. (Good calls often run long, and you’ll make 110% of your hourly rate for a 66 minute call.) GLG pays out like clockwork, no more than two weeks after the call is done.
Ultimately, the rate you can charge for sharing your insights depends on what they’re worth to the companies requesting them.
For example, consider the salary of a professional football player. If a player puts butts in seats, they add massive value to the franchise and can ask for astronomical salaries. They’re not paid just for the work, but for the value they add.
Deciding on a rate that maximizes earnings without scaring off potential customers is like walking a tightrope. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out for yourself.
We’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to price your consulting services. It covers the details of variable and category pricing models expert networks like GLG commonly use. Check it out to make sure you’re charging what you’re worth!
Is GLG consulting worth it?
We’ve established that GLG consulting is a legitimate opportunity, but is it actually worth pursuing? Let’s look at the pros and cons of accepting your GLG paid expertise request plus some reviews of the experience from actual GLG experts.
Benefits of working as a GLG consultant
GLG is the biggest and most well-established firm of its kind. They have plenty of projects available, and GLG has been around for so long that they’ve streamlined many of their processes. That makes it straightforward to find steady work on their platform.
Not only do those projects pay extremely well, but you can also benefit professionally from the exposure they give you to other business execs and fellow consultants. It’s an invaluable learning and networking opportunity.
In addition, you gain access to GLG Insight’s library of top-quality research, which can inform your consulting and full-time endeavors. Some GLG Network Members can contribute to the library, which gives you credibility and helps justify higher rates.
There are some less tangible bonuses too. For example, expert network calls are usually interesting conversations that both parties can learn from, and being respected as a subject matter expert is highly rewarding.
What are the downsides to GLG consulting?
Consulting for GLG isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can be competitive, especially as more qualified candidates enter the arena. As a result, you’ll likely only be selected for a quarter or third of the project invites you receive.
Every network has its own internal rules, but if you position yourself well, GLG will send you a handful of project invites each week. Responding to invites takes 5 to 10 minutes, and it can be frustrating to receive more “no thanks” replies than “yes, please!”
Try not to get discouraged. It often takes a few tries to land your first high-paying client call or survey. With the first one under your belt, you’ll often find that more opportunities start to roll in at a fairly regular pace.