Have you received a message from someone from Dialectica, seeking a few minutes of your time for a paid consulting opportunity? Are you wondering what this opportunity is legit or a scam? Learn what to expect and how to land high-paying consulting projects with our review of Dialectica, one of Europe’s fastest growing expert networks.
What is Dialectica?
Dialectica is an an expert network, a recruiting firm that specializes in custom sourcing subject matter experts for short-term consulting projects. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that cater to institutional investors (management consulting firms, private equity, hedge funds, mutual funds, etc.) doing market research or performing due diligence on a company or subset of companies in preparation for an investment. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, even after you leave!
Founded in 2015 by former management consultants, the firm now consists of 250 employees across 4 offices in Athens, London, New York, and Montreal. Dialectica offers three core information services: 1-to-1 expert conversations, project- length expert engagements, and surveys or reports generated via expert knowledge.
Dialectica is certainly a legit company. It has facilitated over 20,000 projects and was included in the Financial Times’ 2021 list of Europe’s fastest growing companies. It was the fastest growing expert network on the list, ranking 300th on the list with £10.5 million in 2019 revenue – 525% growth since 2016. (Larger European expert network Atheneum Partners also made the list at #701.)
What’s it like to consult on a Dialectica project?
If you have been contacted by an associate from Dialectica, your LinkedIn profile likely indicated that you would be a good fit for a project. Associates generally use the following criteria to judge whether you are a good fit for a project:
- You used to work at a company a client is trying to learn more about. The general rule of thumb is that you must be at least 6 months removed from the target company.
- You currently or used to work for a competitor to a company the client is trying to learn more about.
- You have relevant experience in a parallel industry or market, or worked for a company that was customer of the target company.
The associate will send you a link to a questionnaire that will ask for more details on your relevant work history, as well as a sampling of the questions the client will want to ask in the 1-hour phone consult. It’s important to understand that these questions are not meant to replace the interview, just prove that you have the knowledge and experience they are looking for. The questionnaire shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to fill out. You may also be asked to give your availability for a 1-hour call.
It’s important to keep in mind that even if an associate thinks you are a good fit for the project, and you think you are a good fit for the project (based on the vetting questions), there is a chance you may not be selected for a call. The associate will submit your profile to the client for review, and there are plenty of factors that affect whether you get the project: consulting rate, vetting question response time, time to accept the compliance document, and other factors outside of your control. Even if you don’t get this project, going through these motions will register your in their database and ensure you are identified quickly for future engagements.
In talking to other experts, I’ve heard a few complaints about Dialectica project spam – frequent consulting requests for projects that are significantly far off topic. Making sure your Dialectica profile is crisp and specific is a good way to cut down on off-targets requests (and land more on-point opportunities). The survey and consulting requests that I receive from Dialectica have mostly been well targeted at my area of expertise.
Setting your Dialectica Consulting Rate
Expert network consulting rates vary widely and are dependent on how recent your experience is, the depth of your experience, and job title. Typically, you will receive project requests for experience in companies or job titles within the last 3 years, but the more recent your experience is, the higher likelihood you have of landing the client call. Similarly, the higher your job titles, the higher rate you can command.
Typically, you will be offered $100-$200 for a role below the Director level. A Director or above will likely be offered $200-$350 for participation in a call. While you can absolutely negotiate for a higher rate (and you should!), it’s unlikely that you will be successful in securing more than $100 above the initial offer for your first call.
You can always renegotiate each time you are contacted for an opportunity. You should try to gauge the demand for your experience— are you receiving a high volume of requests? — and evaluate how niche your industry or experience is to determine a fair rate. Some experts can command rates of $500- $1,000, but those experts are often in small or niche industries where it is difficult to source experts, or they are trusted experts who have completed several successful calls and proven their worth to a network.
You should also know that your rate will be pro-rated (by the minute) based on the amount of time you are in a call. If the call goes under 1 hour, you will not be paid for the entire hour. Conversely, if the call goes over the hour, you can expect to be paid more than the initial negotiated rate.
Acing Your Dialectica Consulting Call
An expert network consulting call is not like other types of consulting engagements in that you are not expected to prepare or generate a deliverable. The questions the client will be asking should be easy for you to answer, based on the depth and breadth of your experience in a given industry. If you are asked a question you don’t now the answer to, it’s best to admit you don’t know and offer to follow-up with the answer, or give it your best educated opinion.
Most calls are centered in a company the client is performing due diligence on. In this case, the client will want to understand the target company’s positioning, go-to-market strategy, business model, key challenges and opportunities, and the competitive landscape. The client will likely have done extensive research on the company and industry, and are getting a sense of the company’s growth prospects by testing their hypotheses against your knowledge.
It’s important to note that clients are not seeking proprietary information on the company. In fact, exchanging proprietary information in an expert network consulting call is illegal and considered insider trading. Many calls are recorded and transcribed for internal purposes and subjected to compliance tests. The compliance terms will be laid out to you in a non-disclosure agreement prior to the call. Regardless, you should use your best professional judgement when answering questions to avoid any compliance issues.
Getting Started with Dialectica
Now that you’re part of the network, you will be contacted for more projects that align with your experience. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your career and knowledge. If you haven’ t been contacted by an associate from Dialectica, you can still register to be added to their network by signing up to be a specialist here.