Have you received a reach-out on LinkedIn or an out-of-the-blue phone call from an associate at Ridgetop Research, asking if you have an hour available for a paid consulting opportunity with a client? Are you wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity— or a scam? Get introduced to the secretive world of expert network consulting and learn how to land high-paying projects in our Ridgetop Research review.
What is Ridgetop Research?
Ridgetop Research is 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!
Ridgetop is a mid-sized expert network with offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York, New York. The firm was founded in 2008 by former employees of Vista Research, an early pioneer in the industry that was taken down by an insider trading scandal in 2007. Ridgetop offers a range of services, from custom recruiting of industry professionals (just like other expert networks!), as well as survey fieldwork and paneling. The firm mostly caters to institutional investors such as private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms. Ridgetop also contracts with Cordium to provide “chaperone” services to clients to ensure calls are consistent with their compliance framework.
Qualifying for Ridgetop Research Consulting Calls
If you’ve been contacted by an associate from Ridgetop Research, it’s likely that you are a senior level industry professional with experience with a company, product, or industry their client is looking to learn more about. Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:
You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years out of a job where you were a senior executive (Director level or higher) at a company their client is trying to learn more about.
You currently (or formerly) work for a competitor of a company the client is looking to learn more about.
You currently or formerly were a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.
The associate will invite you to register on the online platform, where you will run through a few vetting questions in order to ascertain whether you are a good fit for the project — I.e., ready and willing to discuss the topics of interest to the client. This vetting process does not take the place of the client call and you can keep your answers high-level.
The client will receive several profiles from Ridgetop Research for review and will only choose the profiles that are the best fit. You can usually guess whether you are a good fit for the project based on how easily you can answer the questions and how recent your relevant work experience is. You’ll usually find out if you’ve been selected for a project within a few days. Oftentimes, the associate will ask for your availability during the screening call and send you a calendar invite for your client call.
Even if you don’t get chosen for this project, by completing their compliance procedure, you will be registered in their system and likely vetted for future projects.
Ridgetop Review Consulting Rates
Expert network consulting rates vary widely and are determined by a variety of factors, such as the seniority and how recent your relevant title is, how niche the industry is, and demand for your insight. In general, you can expect to be offered $100 – $200 if you are a Director level or below, or $200 – $500 or more for experienced executives.
While these rates are pretty standard, you should know that you can renegotiate your rate if you find you are getting inundated by project participation requests. Many C-suites and other high executives who have a history of successful calls command rates of $500. Some experts make $1,000-$1,500 a call, but you should know that it is not common and demanding a super high rate right away will likely mean your profile will never be sent to the client. That being said, feel free to negotiate a rate that is commiserate for your time and energy to participate fully.
It’s important to keep in mind that your rate will be pro-rated based on the amount of time you are in the call with the client, so it’s in your best interest to keep the conversation flowing freely. An extra 10 – 15 minutes can bump up your rate, but conversely, any call that is more than 5 minutes under the 1 hour mark will be paid accordingly, so you should try to at least make it to the hour.
Acing Your Ridgetop Research Consulting Call
Once you’ve been vetted, negotiate a rate, are selected by the client, and provide your availability, you’ll be scheduled for the phone consult.
You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on your years of experience in your industry. The client is looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or complicate their due diligence on a company, industry, or product of interest. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.
The types of clients you will encounter are will be institutional investors (at Ridgetop, that will be private equity, mutual funds, and venture capital firms) and are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary information. This policy should also be laid out to you prior to the call, so you understand what you can and cannot discuss in the call. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.
After the call, your payment information will be collected, and you can expect payment within 14 days via ACH direct deposit.
Now that you’re part of the Ridgetop Research expert network, don’t be surprised if you are contacted for many more projects. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience.
If you haven’t already been contacted by Ridgetop Research about a project, you can reach out an an associate by emailing [email protected]
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 one of Europe’s fastest growing expert networks in our Dialectica review.
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.
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 Dialecticanet 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 , you can still register on the Dialecticanet website to be added to their network by signing up to be a specialist here.
Have you been contacted by an associate from Atheneum Partners with an opportunity to participate in a hour-long consulting call? Are you wondering if the opportunity — or Atheneum Partners— is legitimate or a scam? Learn if you should work with this fast growing expert network in our Atheneum Partners review.
What is Atheneum Partners?
Atheneum Partners GMBH is a mid-sized expert network headquartered in Berlin, Germany with offices in other 10 countries. It operates a Research as a Service (RaaS) product model to conduct primary research for management consulting firms, investment houses, and corporate clients. They offer a small variety of consulting products, including 1-hour consulting calls, primary research deliverables, and long-form consulting opportunities. Atheneum produces research for projects across 8 industries: Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Financial Institutions, Healthcare, Industrials & Transportation, Materials & Natural Resources, and Public Policy. Atheneum Partners is an expert network that wants to leverage your industry knowledge for their clients.
Is Atheneum Partners fake or a scam?
Atheneum Partners is a legitimate company with a 10 year history that operates all over the world— it is not fake or a scam. In August, 2021, Atheneum announced that it had raised $150 million in equity investment, led by Guidepost Growth Equity. The company disclosed that is currently generating over $50 million in annual revenue, with growth rates of 50% or more in 2020 and 2021! Atheneum ranked as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies according to the Financial Times (along with the smaller, but faster growing Dialectica.)
However, it’s noteworthy that in the process of researching this review, I found more than a few complaints from consultants about the company’s payment terms, timing, and occasional habit of not sending payment at all. It appears the company has addressed these complaints directly on forums and with the consultants themselves, but it’s concerning as it appears that these complaints are consistent over a long period of time, and continue through 2021.
While these complaints do not mean the opportunity is a scam, it does indicate that the firm may have some chronic operational issues that could delay your payment longer than the industry standard. Atheneum’s payment terms are within 45 days, while most other expert networks issue payment within a few days or a couple of weeks of completing a project).
(And of course, you should always exercise caution when dealing with people whom you don’t know on the Internet. Beware of impersonators utilizing fake Atheneum Partners email addresses, and know that an expert network will never ask you to send them money.)
Onboarding with Atheneum Partners
If an associate from Atheneum Partners has reached out to you via email, phone call or LinkedIn, you have been selected for screening based on project criteria, including:
You are a former employee of a company the client wants to know more about, usually for due diligence purposes, before purchasing or investing in the target company. You must be at least 6 months removed from your employment with the company to be eligible for participation.
You are a current or former employee of a competitor of the company they are researching, and the client wants to know how the target company is positioned and viewed by competitors.
You are an expert on a related topic, industry, or geography that can offer insight on the industry, even if you’re not overly familiar with the target company or product.
The associate will take a few minutes to explain the project parameters and have you fill out a survey to vet your relevant experience and knowledge. The survey is intended to solicit a high-level understanding of your ability and confidence is speaking to various subjects, and is not intended to substitute the client call. It’s also important to understand that filling out a survey doesn’t guarantee that your profile will be selected by the client. Even if you are not selected for this particular project, participating in this process will register you in their database, enabling you to be quickly selected for future projects.
At the end of the call, the associate will gather your availability for a 1-hour call, discuss your hourly consulting rate, and discuss their compliance policy, which you will need to review and accept to move forward in the process.
Atheneum Partners Consulting Rates
Atheneum’s hourly consulting rates vary widely based on your relevant job title, and how many years you are removed from the industry or relevant job title. The closer you are to the relevant job title, the more likely you can command a higher rate for your expertise. You may have to listen closely to the type of questions they ask to ascertain what part of your employment history is most relevant, but often the associate will ask you directly about a specific title.
The associate will usually offer an initial rate: $100 – $200 for a title below director, $200 – $350 for a title between director and C-suite, and $350 – $500 or more for someone with a C-suite role. It’s important to know that while this rate might be presented as a final offer, the actual hourly rate is up for negotiation. Some experts get paid $1,000+ for the 1 hour calls via Atheneum, but only if their knowledge is niche, related to a very large company, or the expert has a track record of successful client calls.
The best way to maximize your consulting rate is to let the associate know that you have worked with expert networks in the past and that you already have a set rate. Announcing your rate early in the call, or early in the negotiations, allows you to set the benchmark based on a range that makes the engagement worth your time, rather than allowing the associate’s metrics to dictate your pay. You should note that you can renegotiate your rate each time you are contacted for a project, so you can increase your rate over time as you become more comfortable participating in client calls.
It’s in your best interest to keep the call going as long as you can, as your hourly consulting rate is pro-rated based on the amount of time you’re in the call. According to their compliance document, Atheneum compensates for the initial 30 minutes, and then for every 15 minute increment beyond that, as well as an unpaid 5-minute leeway period provided to each client to wrap up a consultation.
Acing your Atheneum Consulting Call
Most Atheneum consulting calls are centered on a particular company, industry, or product. The client will ask you to discuss the vetting questions in much more detail than in the vetting process with the associate from Atheneum: core competitive metrics, competitive landscape for each industry vertical, product strategies, brand positioning, and customer loyalty are some examples of the topics you’ll be asked to elaborate on.
The client is not expecting you to prepare a presentation or deliverable for the call; they are looking to rapidly download industry knowledge via your many years of experience. You can expect that clients have done their own basic research, reviewed publicly available information, and perhaps heard a management presentation. They have come prepared with specific questions to confirm or clarify aspects of the business.
If the client is an investment manager, the call will likely be centered on a particular company. The client will want to know how the target company compares to its’ competitors, product and feature differentiation, pricing strategy, quality of management, etc. These types of calls will often resolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you worked with frequently, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decisions.
Alternatively, if the client is a management consulting firm, the call will be centered on a particular issue or problem they have been tasked to solve. The client may be looking to develop a marketing strategy, solve chronic operational issues, or restructure an organization. These types of calls will often center your approach to an issue, your impressions of various products, factors that influence budget and purchase decisions, or to provide feedback on potential new products or solutions.
You should have an easy time answering the questions during the call- after all, the client wants to learn about an area via your experience. Even so, you may not have all the answers, or know figures off the top of your heads. You can always be honest and say you don’t know, and you should never make up answers. Clients often have multiple calls on the same subject and if it becomes apparent that you lied, you may be blacklisted.
It’s important to note that you will never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information during a client call, and Atheneum will have provided you with clear compliance guidelines prior to the call. In the rare event that you are asked to disclose non-public or proprietary information, you should decline to answer. Atheneum records their calls and offers transcription as a service to their clients, so you should know that exchanging this type of information is considered insider trading and could be met with considerable legal issues. One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t exchanged on a client call, with both parties bound by strict compliance standards.
Atheneum offers payment via PayPal or ACH direct deposit, and you can expect payment within 45 days of the completion of the call.
Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for participation in new projects, especially as you build a history of completing successful client calls.
Did you recently get a call, email, or LinkedIn message from an associate at Magellan Research Group with an offer for a paid consulting opportunity? Getting paid a high hourly rate for just an hour of your time sounds almost too good to be true – perhaps you’re wondering if Magellan is legitimate or a scam? Here’s what you need to know about landing high-paying consulting projects with this fast growing expert network.
What is Magellan Research Group?
Magellan Research Group is one of a plethora of expert networks that have appeared in recent years to source experts for market research projects for institutional investors— usually private equity, hedge funds, and consulting firms. Magellan Research Group is legitimate – it’s certainly not a scam! – and has been operating for 10 years from its offices in New York, NY. Their core product is the 1-hour phone consultation, although they offer a variety of services, such as management checks, custom industry surveys, and industry conferences. The firm is small, and specializes in a personalized and streamlined expert experience by utilizing the most efficient process to cut down on paperwork and vetting time so experts can focus on client calls.
It’s not uncommon for an expert to be asked for a follow-up call, or follow-up project with the client, which would be compensated at the same rate. Usually this happens when a client expands on a project, adds a new angle, or just has an excellent conversation and wants to work more closely with you for their project. A short phone call can sometimes turn into a lucrative consulting project via Magellan!
What to expect
If an associate from Magellan Research Group has reached out to you, it’s likely that you fit the criteria for a project:
A former employee of a company on which they are doing due diligence. The industry standard practice is to source experts who are at least 6 months removed from the target company to ensure that any information exchanged is immaterial and thus not insider trading.
A current or former employee from a competitor in the same industry.
An expert on a specific topic, market, or geography from a parallel industry. This could include a current or former customer of a product or type of product.
One of the most time-consuming aspects of working with expert networks in general is the amount of paperwork an expert has to complete to apply to work on a project after they have been identified as a potential fit. While other expert networks will frequently ask you to complete questionnaires detailing your relevant work experience, Magellan’s associates do the work for you by crafting your biography based on the vetting conversation.
It’s important to give the associate the best high-level view of the topics they are asking about, as the client decides which expert to take a consult call with based on their biography. The vetting conversation is meant to be short, lasting no more than 15 minutes, but associates will stay on longer if you’re willing to provide more details, because those details could be the key to selling the call.
At the end of the vetting conversation, they will let you know if they believe you are a good fit for the project and if so, discuss your hourly consulting rate, your availability for a client call, and an overview of the compliance policy. Even if you aren’t a good fit for this particular project, you can still be added to their expert network database and may be tapped for future opportunities.
Magellan Research Group Consulting Rates
Magellan’s hourly consulting rates vary widely and the initial rate you are offered will be determined by a number of factors, including your job title and how many years you are removed from the industry or relevant job title that the client is researching. The closer you are to the relevant job title, the more likely you are to be chosen for a call, and thus more likely to command a higher rate. While you may have been called about a job you held three years ago, it may be unlikely that the client will take a call with you.
If you are below a director-level role, you will likely be offered $100-$200. If you are a director or above, you will be offered $200-$350. The associate is authorized to offer as high as $500, but anything higher has to be approved by a manager and could mean that your profile is not proposed to the client. Some experts really do get paid $1,000 or more per call through Magellan, but usually after they complete several calls and demonstrate that they are able to consistently offer clients the type of conversation that is extraordinarily useful and informative.
The best way to maximize your consulting rate is to let the associate know that you have worked with expert networks in the past and that you already have a set rate. This lets the associate know you are experienced and know your worth. It also sets a benchmark for the negotiations, so you can limit the pay range to what makes the engagement worth your time. Additionally, if you have been contacted for many projects, your knowledge is probably in demand and you can renegotiate your rate with each project.
You should note that your hourly consulting rate will be pro-rated based on how long you are on the call, so it’s in your best interest to keep talking (er, providing valuable insights!) to keep the client on the phone. Like many expert networks, Magellan really pays by the minute, so you won’t receive your full hourly rate if the call is an under hour, though the good news is that you’ll earn extra on calls that exceed 60 minutes – nothing beats earning an extra $50 by keeping a good conversation going a little longer!
Acing Your Magellan Client Call
Okay, so you’ve done the vetting call, settled on a rate, and scheduled a call. What can you expect?
The vast majority of client calls are centered on a particular company, industry or product. The client will want to know the details of the industry— how it works, business models, verticals, customer types, competitive landscape, key growth drivers, challenges, and trends.
The client is not expecting you to prepare for the call— they are looking to rapidly download knowledge of the industry via your many years of experience. Clients have generally done their own research, reviewed publicly available information, and heard a management presentation. What they are looking for is an insider who can confirm the research and give an informed opinion of the growth prospects and challenges of a particular industry, company, or product.
If you’re speaking with an investment manager, they are likely researching a particular company, they will want to know how it compares to its competitors, product and feature differentiation, quality of management, etc. These calls will often revolve around your former employer or a major vendor that you work with frequently, in which case they’ll want you to compare it to other similar products you vetted, with emphasis on the key factors influencing your decision.
Alternatively, the client may be a management consulting firm, which is tasked with developing a marketing strategy, solving operational problems, restructuring an organization, or other issues. These calls will often dive into how you approach a particular issue or problem, your impressions of various products, how purchase and budget decisions are made, and to provide feedback on some potential new products or proposed solutions.
You’ll usually have an easy time answering most questions during a call – after all, the client wants to learn about an area that you’ve been working in for years. Of course, you may not have the answer to everything, so don’t feel bad for saying that you don’t the answer to a certain question; the client will move on to the next question on their list and they aren’t paying top dollar for made-up answers!
It’s important to note that you’ll never be asked to share non-public or proprietary information, and Magellan will provide you with clear compliance guidelines several times before you connect with the client. One of the key responsibilities of expert networks is to ensure that improper information isn’t shared with clients, who are bound by strict compliance standards. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.
Immediately after the call, you should get an email thanking you for your participation. There will be a link to the invoice system, which will offer 3 different payment methods: ACH direct deposit, a physical mailed check, or a donation to a charity. Magellan processes all expert payments at the end of the month.
Now that you’re a part of the network, you will periodically be contacted for new projects, as associates are more likely to tap you for projects if you have a history of completing successful calls.
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 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?
How do phone call consults go for an expert network project? There are three types of calls you can expect. The first is a request for a “company deep dive”; the next is a much broader industry overview. The last is a consultation with other subject matter experts (sometimes called knowledge bomb conversations. See our Ultimate Expert Network Guide to learn more about those).
The deep dive is of particular interest to potential investors looking for keen insights into a specific company before deciding to sink money into it. Industry overviews help paint a big picture about a sector’s customers and future. Calls from other experts empower firms to improve offerings; essentially, they borrow your expertise to boost their credibility in their customers’ eyes during times of change or crisis.
It’s important to note that confidential calls are held to a high compliance standard, and consultants should not disclose privileged information. They can dive into complex financial data, and possibly personal insights about management, strategy, customer complaints (or other information that is releasable yet may not be published on reports), though. When an AlphaSights call is finished, the Advisor’s obligation is over and payment is sent within a few days!
Do I qualify as a subject matter expert?
When expert advisors get started, it is common for them to wonder if they possess knowledge a company or investor would pay to hear. Some go through a phase of “imposter syndrome,” as if they are simply pretending to be experts. Luckily this feeling goes away fairly quickly, especially when the checks start rolling in.
There are thousands of clients in need of all types of insights and feedback. They receive significant benefits from reaching out to consultants. If they didn’t, expert networks wouldn’t be a billion-dollar industry. But how can you be sure you qualify? Well, we’ve talked about the three main types of calls that are made—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Most of us who’ve worked within a particular company or in a specific sector for a few years have gleaned unique knowledge from those experiences. That knowledge has value and is marketable!
How do I set my AlphaSights hourly consulting rate?
If you’ve been working for only a handful of years for a particular company or sector, you might set an hourly rate between $100 – $150/hour with AlphaSights. Seasoned members can charge up to $300 – $500 an hour, while major corporate players might ask for thousands of dollars.
When choosing what you feel is a reasonable rate, keep in mind three things. One, customers aren’t looking for the cheapest rates; they are looking for the best value. Two, your insights may drive a decision that could be worth millions of dollars, so don’t undervalue your services! Three, remember that AlphaSights will markup your services considerably.
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to set your expert network hourly rate, which dives into the weeds on pricing models. The better you understand how pricing works, the more you can set an AlphaSights consulting rate that fairly compensates you yet doesn’t scare off clients.
What are the downsides to consulting for AlphaSights?
AlphaSights operates a large, competitive network filled with highly-qualified advisors. There is no guarantee of work, and it takes time to establish your reputation. You may receive invites to bid on projects, but it can get frustrating to spend 5 – 10 minutes each time, tailoring and polishing up bids that get rejected. The trick is to learn from each experience and be persistent.
Like many expert networks, project opportunities through AlphaSights tend to be feast or famine so it’s hard to count on this revenue and not uncommon to go for very long stretches without landing a project. On the flipside, if you’re a top expert on a hot topic or company, you may briefly find yourself inundated with project requests.
How can I win more AlphaSights consulting projects?
To get hired more often, it pays to be discovered! This means optimizing your Advisor profile with relevant keywords and search terms. Ensure your profile is concise, impactful, persuasive, and error-free. It should feature a strong summary of employment history and relevant knowledge. Read a few profiles of high-priced consultants in your field and borrow ideas that apply. Then, if needed, hire a writer to help you punch your draft up!
AlphaSights’ Client Service Team works hard to connect clients with industry experts who can offer the right answers. You must be proactive and keep an eye out for opportunities, then get your proposals out the door! However, don’t cut-and-paste generic wording. Take time to tailor the phrasing so you’re speaking to the client’s unique needs. Yes, that takes longer, but the return on investment will be higher. And the more consultations you complete, the more feedback you’ll receive. Those feedbacks help you land work!
As you put out proposals, you’ll walk a fine line between selling yourself and staying objective about your qualifications. Every client is different, but they all value honesty, so be clear about what you can offer without promising the moon and stars. Give concrete examples from your past that feature hard numbers and the tangible impacts your work made. Show how your knowledge can add value and is worth the price of admission.
Now that we know who can afford those high-priced consults, let’s explore what types of consults are available!
What types of consulting projects does AlphaSights take on?
AlphaSights offer a wide range of services, via their network of external industry experts. Not all of AlphaSights’s “knowledge-holders” aka Advisors are C-suite types. Expert advisors are pulled from all levels of virtually every business sector. They come from all backgrounds and different countries to engage with clients remotely, running the gamut from market intelligence, broad industry perspectives, specific organizational insights, and general advice to inform decision-making.
The types of projects they take on are as varied as their massive client roster, which means AlphaSights has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large scope projects, they might put together a team, but in general, you might expect to do 1:1 calls starting out.
Clients use AlphaSights to connect with advisors and hear insights and solutions. Advisors get to decide what projects to take on, and what times are mutually convenient to do the calls (though it pays to be flexible). There’s nothing to prepare, though it can be helpful to do some research ahead of time for specific projects. Once a call is over, there’s nothing more to do except kick back and wait to get paid.
Expert advisors get more than financial compensation, though. They gain invaluable opportunities to expand their own network, build relationships, hone their skills, and learn new things. With each call, the consultant adds value to their own portfolio.
As mentioned above, all parties must be very mindful of avoiding compliance pitfalls. Clients can’t ask for sensitive or protected information such as trade secrets, and advisors can’t share it. Parties on an AlphaSights call are obligated to comply with ethical rules and legal restrictions. Apart from that, the direction of the call is largely up to the client. They might have an endless stream of questions, or might want to learn what types of questions they should be asking! You’re paid to listen, respond to the best of your ability, and let the call go on for as long as it needs until the client is ready to get off the line. Again, AlphaSights pays per minute, so you’re compensated if a call stretches over the standard hour.
AlphaSights states that they “source and qualify the best industry experts for our clients to speak to via phone, in-person meetings, and full-day workshops.” In-person meetings are similar to phone consultations but are sometimes more suitable (except when there’s a pandemic going on!). For now, we won’t dive too much into the workshops, lucrative though they may be. Most Advisors start doing phone consults, so that’s the best place to focus your energies until your reputation on the platform is secured.
Is AlphaSights legit or are this a scam?
AlphaSights is entirely legitimate and has a solid history. With offices 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.
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!
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?
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:
Clients present Coleman Research with a project designed to help answer a question or solve a particular problem.
Coleman filters their vast talent pool to find suitable advisors.
Interested consultants might need to answer a few questions and submit a brief proposal. Clients will review submissions and choose from the candidates.
Coleman makes all the arrangements for the call.
Clients talk with their chosen advisor.
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 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.
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?
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.
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
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.”
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?
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!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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 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!
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!
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