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 short, high-paying projects in our GLG review.
What is GLG?
If you’ve received a paid expertise request via LinkedIn or email from an expert network like GLG, you may have been skeptical. These invites offer to pay hundreds of dollars an hour to share your insights during a one hour phone with GLG’s clients. It may sound too good to be true, but expert networks are a thriving industry and provide lucrative payouts if you’ve got in-demand industry insights to give. Your invitation to become a GLG network member can be your ticket convenient, high-paying consulting opportunities!
GLG (rebranded from Gerson Lehrman Group) and other expert networks profit by capitalizing on your subject matter expertise. They are well-compensated middlemen, connecting organizations with consultants within their in-house “community,” aka “expert network.” Why do companies hire consultants? Because a single critical decision can cost companies millions of dollars, so paying a few thousand in consulting fees is peanuts in comparison.
GLG is the largest firm in a secretive, but thriving industry. There are over 140 expert network companies around the world, raking in nearly $2 billion in annual revenue. These networks are the bridge between experts and companies who need them. Investors and management consultants need straight talk from people in the trenches who can offer insights before they make an investment or a decision about a strategic direction to take. GLG’s clients need the “real story” from inside experts like you!
In return, GLG tacks on a sizable markup (the company reports sky-high 70% contribution margins). For instance, the expert’s consulting rate might be $300 per hour, but GLG often charges its clients $1,000+ per hour for facilitating calls with industry experts who can deliver the straight scoop minutes after a phone call commences. Thus, we see the rationale behind those LinkedIn invites offering to pay you hundreds of dollars for an hour of your time. While at first these opportunities may sound too good to be true, for professionals who qualify such projects are real and accessible, with expert networks like GLG facilitating over 1 million high paying consulting calls each year.
What should you expect on a GLG consulting call?
GLG calls itself ‘The World’s Insight Network’ and its numerous clients pay over $1,000 per hour to glean insights from experts like you!
So what does an expert do during a one-hour client call for an expert network project? Essentially, one of three things. They may offer a company deep dive, an industry overview, or a consultation with other consultants (we explore these “knowledge bomb” conversations in more depth in our Ultimate Expert Network Guide)!
A deep dive may be requested from someone outside of a company, like an investor wanting to learn more before deciding what position to take. Such calls dive into hard numbers, insights about management, opinions on what customers like or dislike about a product or service, and other data that can’t be found on reports.
The industry overview is broader. Often, a company speaks with several consultants to form a big picture about an industry, its customers, and its future. They might even ask what questions they should be asking!
The third type of call comes from consulting firms looking to improve offerings to their clients. They are offering expert services to a company but need to “phone a friend” when a new product is launched, or something isn’t going according to plan. Of course, anything they learn from you will appear to be coming from them when they pass it on!
The key benefit to the expert network system is clear — once a consulting call is finished and you hang up the phone, it’s over. They got something they needed, and your obligation is concluded. Then you get paid! It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Do I qualify as a subject matter expert?
After learning that expert networks are legitimate, many struggle to believe they’d 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 experiencing a brief period of self-doubt or a sense of “imposter syndrome,” but that fades quickly. When a new consultant starts hearing positive feedback from customers who benefited from the consult, that’s when they appreciate what they can bring to the table.
But how do you know if you qualify? Look again at the main types of calls—the company deep dive, industry overview, and consultation. Have you ever worked for a big company? Or 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!
Remember, most clients are parachuting in to a brand new area to them and are eager to quickly learn how things really work. Oftentimes, banal decisions that you’ve been making for years are what that they’re excited to learn about – things like how you allocate budget, what goes in to pricing decisions, or which products do you expect to spend or less on are valuable insights to them. A good rule of thumb 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.
Want to be in demand for more high-paying projects? Learn how to deliver a kick ass expert network client call.
How do I set my GLG consulting rate?
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, such as a Vice President at a well known company or specialized physician, that rate can climb to $500 or more with GLG. (Note that GLG is notorious for being stingy on rates, so you may have trouble landing projects at $500+/hour on GLG even if you frequently earn that amount from other expert networks, such as Guidepoint and AlphaSights.)
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!
Worth noting — 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, but the meter keeps ticking if you exceed one hour. Meanwhile, they pay out like clockwork, usually 1 – 2 weeks after the call is completed. Keep in mind, the value of your insights depends on what they’re worth to the companies requesting them. Consider the salary for 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 aren’t just getting paid 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. That’s why we’ve written a full guide on how to price your consulting services, covering details of variable and category pricing models commonly used by expert networks like GLG. The more you understand how they earn, the better you can adjust accordingly.
How can I win more GLG consulting projects?
Despite recent crowding of the field, there are strategic steps you can take to increase your odds of winning more expert network projects. The first relates to being discoverable, so take time to research keywords you want to be found under, then create a keyword-dense profile.
One of the most intuitive ways to get more work is to be the first person out of the gate, so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and respond quickly. Being the first person to reply isn’t always going to land you the gig, but it always makes you stand out.
Establish trust quickly by being honest and objective. First impressions count! 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.
That said, you still have to sell yourself, so be descriptive in all your answers. Provide sufficient detail about things you’ve done related to the project, and include hard data, financial figures, and impact. Show how you 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!
Overview of GLG
Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) was founded in New York in 1998, originally focused on writing “sector-specific reports for investors.” Within a year, their core trio of Mark Gerson, Thomas Lehrman, and editor Alexander Saint-Amand realized the power of one-on-one consulting, which could often have a deeper impact than a cold, formal report. By 2003, they’d expanded operations to San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, and London, receiving a $30 million injection of investment capital to brand out into Chicago, Austin, and Washington D.C., as well.
The expert network industry (or insight networks, as GLG is attempting to rebrand it) is booming, and as the dominant firm, GLG keeps getting bigger. In early 2022, GLG announced plans for an IPO, revealing that it generated $322 million in revenue during the first half of 2021 – 14% year over year growth and eye-popping 70% contribution margins! Today GLG has a staff of over 2,000 employees serving 2,600 clients and more than 1,00,000 expert consultants from virtually all business backgrounds. (GLG has since shelved its IPO plans, citing market conditions.)
GLG was a central figure in a massive insider trading scandal in 2008, but the company (and expert network industry) survived and actually grew substantially by implementing robust compliance policies and procedures. This compliance framework helps GLG, clients, and you avoid any compliance issues and has become one of the cornerstones of the services that expert networks provide.
What types of consulting projects does GLG take on?
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 client base consists of everything from financial services organizations to corporations and life sciences. GLG has opportunities for a wide range of specialized experts. For large projects, they may assemble a tailored team to work on objectives. In other cases, a simple 1:1 call between a client and an independent consultant (aka Council Member) may be all that’s needed.
GLG’s independent consultants come from all walks of life, with varying experience and seniority levels. They offer projects for people at all levels, across most industries, and from around the world. According to their Why Become a Consultant page, 39% were already working for top consulting firms, and 33% are former execs. Most GLG consultants work remotely and may live anywhere in the world. Indeed, only 31% are based in North America, while 48% live in either South America, Europe, or Asia.
GLG Consulting Calls
Organizations are willing to pay hourly rates to discuss their strategic and operational problems, get market feedback, and test out ideas. This comes with enormous benefits for you as the consultant! They need to hear your insights and possible solutions, so they’re coming to you. That means you get to schedule appointments when it is convenient for you, you don’t have to prepare anything, and there is no follow up. When you hang up, you’re done except for the getting paid part!
Expert network calls are usually quite interesting conversations that both parties end up learning something from, which is a bonus. Another less tangible perk is simply being considered and respected as a subject matter expert. That’s a status you worked long and hard to earn, so now is the time to reap the rewards.
Things to be mindful of include 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. Amongst other requirements, you may not discuss your current employer with clients or divulge non-public information. Don’t worry – clients don’t want to know this information (as it can cause compliance problems for them) and many will remind you not to share non-public information with them.
Other than that, there are few guidelines on how a call has to go. You’re the consultant, but the client sets the stage by telling you about their situations and asking questions. Your job is to listen and answer, for the length of the call. Not all calls are an hour long. In fact, technically, GLG 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.
Meanwhile, calls aren’t the only thing you can do with GLG…
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 expert consultants I’ve met often earn more from frequent surveys than they do from client calls!). These B2B surveys tend to be about your views on certain product categories, or your budget and spending expectations. While there are surveys across a broad range of topics, those targeting information technology professionals and physicians seem to be particularly popular.
Though less common than calls and surveys, GLG will sometimes reach out to invite experts to attend events or small group meetings, or team up with others to tackle small, complex projects. Consultants are free to choose what they work on. Some only want to do calls; others are happy to do surveys, get out of the house to attend events, or collaborate with others. For those seeking a bit more work, GLG also offers their clients interim and longer-term placements.
Is GLG a scam or are they legit?
GLG is a legitimate, global enterprise with almost a million paid Council Member consultants. They thoroughly vet the consultants in their network to ensure their clients receive exceptional service in exchange for the high fees they’re shelling out.
GLG is one of the oldest and certainly largest players in the expert network sector! They have physical offices in major cities worldwide, thousands of employees, and almost a million consultants on tap. You could be one of them!
Benefits of working as a GLG consultant
GLG not only pays for 1:1 phone calls, surveys, and projects, but Council Members can professionally benefit from the exposure to so many business execs and fellow consultants, which is invaluable if you use it as a learning opportunity. Another benefit is access to GLG Insight’s library of high-quality research articles, which can help inform your work with clients as well as potentially your own full-time endeavors. Council Members occasionally get to contribute to these pieces, which can lend additional credibility to your profile (which, in turn, always helps justify a rate hike!).
Some firms provide varying forms of free published research as a perk to their consultants; it’s usually pretty high quality (and in some cases, you can publish your own for exposure.)
One of GLG’s biggest selling points is its sheer size, because they have so many projects available. They operate in the Big Leagues of the expert network industry, scoping projects for companies both large and small. One of their bragging points is that they hand-select and recruit 200+ new experts a day. There aren’t many businesses that can say that. And because they’ve been around for so long, they’ve worked out most of the kinks and streamlined their process so it’s straightforward to find work on their trusted, compliance-oriented platform.
If consulting with GLG sounds like the perfect solution to make some extra money on the side from the comfort of your own home (or from some tropical beach with a mojito in your hand), you’re right!
What are the downsides to GLG consulting?
Consulting for GLG isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can be competitive as increasing numbers of qualified candidates enter the arena. Every network has its own internal rules, but if you position yourself well, GLG may send you a handful of project invites each week. You’ll likely only be selected for a quarter or third of them. Responding to invites taks 5 – 10 minutes and yes, it can be frustrating to receive more “no thanks” replies than “yes, please!” For those just getting started, it can seem demotivational.
Odds are that you won’t land the first project that you apply for, but 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.
GLG reviews and consultant feedback
As the 800 pound gorilla of the expert network industry, GLG receives plenty of public feedback, listed on Indeed, Glassdoor, and even Quora. One of the top complaints about GLG is that work is sporadic, as these GLG reviews on Indeed show:
“Consultation business. Work is infrequent but lucrative.
“Consult for top tier companies. Mergers and acquisitions, general consulting and special projects. Work is infrequent but can be lucrative if available in your specialized area.”
Here’s another one:
“Great company, occasionally get interest from clients. Very part term
“From time to time, someone needs specialized help that I’m qualified to help with, probably only about 5 hours a quarter. However, I’m compensated extremely well for this time. It’s very low pressure when deciding whether to take a project or not.”
A thorough review of GLG on Quora points out a few of the pros and cons, such as this quote:
“GLG associates are notorious for aggressively negotiating down rates, despite charging clients some of the highest prices in the industry.”
They are hard negotiators on fees and pay less than many other networks. They charge clients a fixed price (often $1,000 for an hour-long call), so the less they pay you, the more they keep. Alas, you still get to keep a lot!
As mentioned, perhaps the biggest downside to GLG is the process of getting picked up for projects. You’ll have to spend time reviewing and bidding. So how can you boost your odds of getting hired?