Getting Started With Expert Network Consulting

expert network secrets

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

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

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

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

How does an expert network project begin? 

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

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

How to get noticed by an expert network

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

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

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

Profile #1: 

Ineffective LinkedIn Profile of Expert Networks

Profile #2: 

Great LinkedIn Profile for Expert Networks

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

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

Work with multiple expert networks

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

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

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

As you are already familiar with the concept of consulting through an expert network, you should now reach out to one person from each expert network you can think of to set up your profile. Start with the major ones such as GLG, Third Bridge, GuidePoint Global, AlphaSights, and Coleman Research. Next, there is a growing list of rapidly growing networks that you should take a look at as well, such as proSapient, Atheneum, Dialectica, NewtonX, and DeepBench. All you need to do is send them a note explaining that you’re a seasoned consultant looking to get more projects and attach your email, your phone number, and your hourly rate to be added into the network. 

Pro tip: Reach out to the most junior people at expert networks – young associates who have just joined the company. Even if you don’t match their current project requirements, they are more likely to set up your profile than busier, more experienced associates working on a bunch of projects you are not relevant for. 

In order for you to secure more consulting engagements through the networks you are working with, you have to understand how your profile is selected by project managers from the internal database. These project managers typically scour their expert network database the same way they recruit on LinkedIn, using keywords and shortlisting strong profiles to send over to their client. However, during the first initial creation of your internal consulting profile, only 10% of recruiters actually record the products and softwares you note you are familiar with on LinkedIn. Hence, if your internal consulting profile is as bare as 90% of the others, project managers are doing a guessing game when sending you over a consulting project! In fact, if you often get project requests that are a bad fit for you, this is a clear indication that your profile is not filled up to match your expertise. 

Landing the assignment

Strong profiles are not only the ones that have the same keywords in and meet the needs of the brief, but are also guaranteed to accept the consultation if selected. You should offer to build out your internal consulting profile with expert networks. Upon request, most expert networks will send you a link to access your consulting profile with them.

Invest some time detailing which geographies you can cover, what products and softwares you have used, and which sectors you are familiar with. Consulting engagements are often looking to hear from customers, a product you have directly used and can do a short review on, or from decision makers, who can speak to the decision making process, selection criteria, and how they chose the vendor they did. As projects span a variety of topics and can be anything under the sun, the general rule of thumb is if you can speak to the topic for at least 30 minutes, list it in your profile!

It is also crucial to note that most expert networks do rank their consultants. For instance, how likely you are to respond, how interested you are in consulting, and how many consultations you have done. In addition, it is also recorded if you have ever missed a scheduled consultation, been impolite with a client or caused any trouble with the network. As expert networks prioritize their client’s satisfaction with the consultation, project managers will always choose to send over profiles with better feedback. So it truly doesn’t hurt to be responsive, responsible, and a decent human being. 

Since expert networks only get paid if their consultants get compensated for successful consultations, responsiveness and availability are highly valued. Given the time pressure expert networks are under to deliver, these are a few key aspects we will need from you to secure a consultation with you: responses to screening questions, a week’s worth of availability for the consultation, quick response times to our first email and any additional questions we may have, and quick confirmations to your scheduled consultation time. If you are able to meet an expert network’s needs, your internal consulting profile is bound to be frequently picked over the other profiles. 

A final note

Short-term consulting through an expert network is definitely what you will make of it – nothing at all, side gig to make pocket money or your entire source of income. It is easy to fall into the comfort of passively waiting for expert networks to send over consulting engagements, but if you’re not Elon Musk or Tim Cook, the number of consulting projects you get will correlate with the effort you put in. In order to be successful in expert network consulting, you need to do the initial legwork starting with the tips mentioned above. It may seem tedious and repetitive to do so with each of the expert networks, but your investment will pay off, and you will find yourself consulting on more projects than you ever have. 

Getting Picked for Expert Network Projects

expert network secrets

Looking for the real secrets to success with expert networks? We asked employees at major expert networks and their leading consultants to share the inside scoop on becoming in-demand expert. A Client Associate at Third Bridge Group shares a behind-the-scenes look at how they find experts for a project and the factors that go in to whether you’re picked or passed over.

Starting out as an Associate at Third Bridge, I sourced new experts for each project I was staffed on. That meant understanding what types of questions the client wants to get answered, figuring out ideal profiles of people who can answer those questions, finding people who match this profile, figuring out a way to contact them, convincing them to consult, and then selling them to the client. To find a single expert, I typically had to speak with over 15 people – and on some projects a client would want to speak with up to 100 experts!

After getting to know the ropes, I’ve been promoted to Client Associate, so now I work directly with clients. I still custom source experts, but my focus now is on screening experts already in the network to match them up to projects.  

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

With a couple of years under my belt, I’ve sourced so many experts for so many projects at Third Bridge that I’ve lost count! Make life easy for me and and my colleagues and we’ll try to staff you on as many projects as you can handle. Here’s my advice on how to do that.

Make yourself easy to find

Start by making sure your LinkedIn is up-to-date. Associates don’t rely solely on LinkedIn, but we lean pretty heavily on it. If you’re a department or category manager specify which department category you manage. If you’re a CIT/CTO or a high level IT executive, call out by name every software you’ve used, implemented, or researched. If you’re a buyer or procurer, specify what products you have procured. It’s always better to be specific. Instead of saying “in charge of procuring soft drinks”, say “procured Fanta, Gatorade, Lipton and Dr. Pepper”.

One of the under-the-radar places we often look to source experts is customer testimonials, which are a great place to source prominent customers of a product who were willing to offer up there opinion. For example, if a client is researching the CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service) industry, then they will want to speak with the decision maker behind the choice of provider of this service.

To get started on a search like that, I’d often go the websites of top providers to find their testimonials page (if they have one), and figure out which companies use their services. If there are a few customer testimonials with name, title and company listed, it is incredibly easy to reach out to those people to ask them to hold a call with a client. Oftentimes, though, these reviews don’t have a full name attributed to them, so if you do provide testimonials, authorize use of your full name so that it’s easy for us to find you. (If you don’t want to do that, a first name, title and company makes it relatively easy to track you down; never be anonymous.)

Be responsive

Most importantly, you have to be very responsive. Our projects are very, very time constrained. Experts typically think we’re exaggerating when we say that the project is urgent but our clients change priorities (i.e they go from wanting to speak to a customer from x company, to an executive from y company) within 1 – 3 days. So if you’re sent an email about a new project, make sure to reply within the hour if possible or at least within the same day for the highest chance of selection. 

Nine times out of ten, the project proposal emails you receive include screening questions. Clients provide these questions to us so that we can find experts for them to talk to who are on point. While a few clients are cool with an expert just confirming that they can discuss the topic of the consultation, but the majority of clients are much more picky than that and want brief, but very specific answers. You may be a great fit for a project, but If you respond to screening questions with skimpy answers, we’re generally too busy ask you to provide more details and you won’t land the assignment.

Clients don’t need an essay, but they don’t want yes/no answers either. A few thoughtful, descriptive sentences is all it really takes. For example, if one of the screening questions is “can you discuss the competitive landscape?”, a “yes” isn’t enough. Instead reply with “Yes, I can discuss company X, company Y, and company Z in detail”. Clients are looking for company names and figures (averages, percentages,etc). If you provide us with this information, it makes it so much easier to sell you. Selling experts to clients is the most important aspect of the associate’s role, so the faster and more thoroughly you reply, the more likely we are to put you at the top of the list of people that we present to our clients.

Get the same project twice? Apply twice.

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

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

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

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

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

Your rate plays a role.

Third Bridge Group Top Earning Consultants
The highest earning experts at Third Bridge Group, through mid-2020

As you can see, experts have a pretty wide range of rates, even amongst the highest earners. There are many factors at play here, but ultimately it’s a function of supply and demand, with industry and seniority being the largest drivers. Some industries are really easy to find experts from (i.e music industry), others aren’t (i.e mining industry). If an expert has experience at a niche/difficult industry, they’re harder to replace and therefore can negotiate higher rates.

The average rate for most experts ranges between $250 to $500/hour, with a typical expert offering 2+ years of experience at a specific company. Many experts, especially higher earning ones, hold managerial roles because clients are interested in speaking with decisions makers.

Have a logical hourly rate. The majority of the projects we receive are market research or due diligence projects, which means the client is looking to understand the trends, dynamics, competitive landscape and future outlook of the industry. Less common are the strategy projects, where the client is looking to enter a market, or to invest in a market, where they are looking for an expert to solve problems.

If the project is a market research project, an hourly rate of $500+ does not make sense. It really doesn’t. It’s literally an hour of your time, that you’re not required to prepare for and that you can make while driving, while chilling by the pool, or while laying in bed. If your rate is too high, it’s not just that the client might not select you but it’s also that we might not even submit your profile over to the client.

One of the most important KPIs for associates at Third Bridge is cost. An expert with an hourly rat above $500 will drive the project cost to the roof and negatively impact an associate’s KPIs. So, we will look for someone with a lower rate, someone with a rate between $100 -$500. The rate for manager-level experts (account managers, sales managers, etc) ranges between $110 – $350. The rate for C-level executives ranges from $350 – $1,000. The $1,000 hourly rate is very rare, however. Typically they’re experts with 30+ years of experience in a super niche industry.

If you are new to an expert network or have only consulted a few of times, keep your rate at the lower end of the ranges provided above as you’re getting started. Once you’ve completed about five consultations and received positive feedback from the clients on all of them, ask for an increase of 100$ – $150.

Experts tend to assume rates aren’t negotiable, because associates make it seem like they aren’t. They are, but don’t take it too far. I once on-boarded an expert and explained that he will be compensated at 110$/hour. He was fine with that rate initially, but then he emailed me an hour later to tell me he won’t consult for anything less than 500$/hour. If he had said that had had thought things over, done a little research and felt that $200/hour was more appropriate, I would have increased the rate to 150$/hour. But to rudely demand an instant jump from $110 to 500$/hour when you’ve never consulted with us, and never consulted with any of our clients before? It ain’t happening. 

Be professional.

Additionally, building a relationship with expert network associates can also affect your project selection rate a bit. At Third Bridge, associates can add comments and feedback to the experts’ profiles. If you were ever rude, mean, or inappropriate, the associate will likely make a comment about it which will discourage others from contacting you about new projects. Similarly, if you were very nice and approachable, associates will leave positive comments that will encourage others to contact you.

I once called someone for a project, and explained to them how Third Bridge is a global company with offices in China, India, London and the US. He proceeded to make a racist comment. I highlighted this on his profile and he’s never been contacted for a project again. On the other end of the spectrum, I once spoke with an expert who asked me where I’m from. Turns out he has previously visited my country, and loved it very much. We spent much of that phone call chatting about his visits. I made sure to recommend him for every single project in the nursing homes industry as it was his industry of expertise (he had great experience as well, I wouldn’t recommend him just because I like him.)

Associates also add clients’ feedback to your profile. When our clients tell us that they loved speaking with someone, we definitely make a note of that. However, if you consulted on a project and received negative feedback, it’ll be added to your profile and you’ll receive fewer opportunities to consult. 

Name names on your profile

Make sure to add as many details to your profile at the expert network as possible. Add every industry you’re knowledgeable about, every company you can speak about, every product/service/solution you’ve purchased or been a part of the selection process of, and add your CV. We use keywords to find people through our network, so use them in your CV or profile.

Something you might have noticed as an expert is that in one month you’d receive 10+ consulting requests, and then months would go by without a single consulting request. The main reason for that is that instability and change drive our industry. If you’re suddenly receiving a lot of requests, it’s probably because a company in your industry is about to IPO, be acquired, is raising money, or there is a lot of investor interest in your industry. A month later, our clients’ interests have moved elsewhere.

Take advantage of that. You know what the ‘hot’ companies in your industry are, and if your are talking about a big piece of news from one of them at work, odds are that many expert network clients are too. Make sure that you continuously update your profile to include new companies that you know about, as well as your relationship to them (employer, competitor, customer, etc.) Read up about what’s happening, and accept every project sent your way. You have nothing to lose. You’re ought to be selected for at least one of these projects.  


To wrap up – being an expert at an expert network can provide you with many opportunities, besides just great compensation. It’s an opportunity for you to network with the most prominent investment and consulting firms in the world. Many people consulted a couple of times with our clients, providing them with great insights that the client decided to work with them on a long term basis. Other people found a full-time job through being part of an expert network. The current Head of HR at Third Bridge Group was initially an expert, and was then offered a job at the company. This is just to tell you to stay open for opportunities, you never know what’ll come your way.

How a “Regular Joe” Regularly Earns Several Thousand Dollars Per Month Through Expert Networks

Though expert network consulting opportunities tend to come in waves, I’ve consistently earned a healthy 5-figure sum from calls and surveys over each of the past six years – I can’t imagine that there’s an easier or more lucrative side hustle out there.  Turns out that you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 CEO to land these opportunities by the bucket load!  

I’m happy to share the strategies that I use to regularly land high paying calls from the top expert networks:

First, Get Found

When investors and consultants turn to expert networks to do a deep dive into a topic, they usually want to get a bunch of different perspectives, which includes opinions from current and former employees, customers, and competitors.   Three quarters of the projects I’ve done tend to revolve around a specific company, with the rest being broader overviews of a market or niche.  

Thus, when an expert network goes hunting for people to speak with their clients, it tends to be very keyword driven.  If the client wants to speak to former salespeople who worked for XYZ  company, they are going to immediately reach out to you if your LinkedIn or expert network profile says “salesperson at XYZ company”. 

Pretty straightforward, right?  

Expert Network Introduction
Drop in the names of the companies, industries and topics you’re familiar with into your well-crafted LinkedIn profile, and you’ll soon have a continuous stream of expert network consulting opportunities.

So think about ALL of the companies that you know fairly well and have interacted with meaningfully over the past year or two and make sure you specifically call them out, too.  Your current and former employers are obvious.  But what about your competitors?  If you spend a lot of time explaining to customers why your product is better than the other guy’s, you’re probably an ‘expert’ on that company, too – at least as far as an investor looking to get a broad variety of insights is concerned!

And don’t forget all of the products and services that you use in your work.  Say there’s a certain piece of software that you use regularly at work.  If you can articulate what you like and don’t like about it and if you anticipate using it for years to come or feel that it’s terrible and can’t wait to replace it with a new product that’s rapidly gaining traction, then you could be an expert in that as well.  Did you recently go through a big evaluation process to select a new vendor?   You’re probably qualified to speak about that whole product category, including valuable perspective on the companies that you didn’t choose to go with!

Make sure you list and regularly update all of these companies and experiences on both your LinkedIn profile and all of your expert network profiles.  It can (and should) be as straightforward as something like, “I am a customer and regular user of Product A, Product B, and Product C.  I recently led my company’s search for a new widget provider, where I evaluated Company X, Company Y and Company Z; I recently signed a new $100,000 contract to buy Company Z’s widgets.”  When I changed all of my profiles to this format, it probably tripled the volume of opportunities that started coming my way!

I want to offer one more important note on listing companies on your profile.  If you’ve had some success with expert networks, you’ve probably done multiple calls on the same topic or company.  Companies or niches that are attracting a lot of investor attention – often because they are about to announce an IPO, acquisition or key earnings release – quickly generate a large need for experts at multiple networks, so it pays to be in the right place at the right time.  If you can provide good insights on a hot company, make sure you clearly detail that front and center on your profiles.

Ok, now that your email is filling up with new opportunities, it’s time to focus on the next step:

Landing the Call

Getting contacted about a bunch of consulting calls is great, but unless you land the assignment they’re not going to help pay for that weekend away.  It doesn’t take much effort to differentiate yourself from the competition and land 50% or more of the relevant expert network opportunities that come your way.

Start by taking a step back and thinking about the two people you need to convince to hire you at sky-high rates for an hour of your time.  There’s the paying client at an investment or management consulting firm, and there’s the beleaguered associate at the expert network.  

It’s pretty easy to make them both happy.  Be responsive, be descriptive and be available.

When an expert network associate kicks off a search for experts for a new project, they shotgun out dozens of emails, texts and calls at a time.  Responding as quickly as possible gets you to the front of the line so there are lower odds of a project filling up before you are even considered.  It also signals to the associate that you will be responsive and make their lives easy for any follow up questions and scheduling.

When answering screening questions, invest a few a minutes in writing complete, detailed sentences. Again, provide the company/product names and keywords that you think they are looking for.  Never provide yes/no answers to questions about your experiences.

For example, a common screening question will be along the lines of, “Do you have experience buying XYZ products for your company?”

A strong, yet simple answer is, “Yes, I directly manage the $5 million budget for XYZ products at my company.  I have been a customer of Company A three years and Company B  for six months, plus I recently met several times with Company C to evaluate their offerings.”

Now, if the expert network or their client are trying to decide between two candidates for a call, are they more likely to pick the person who provides those kinds of details and specifics or the one who simply replied “Yes”? 

As I often get very similar screening questions time after time, I’ve created a document where I’ve pasted every answer that I’ve given.  This makes it really easy to provide quality responses to screening questionnaires in just a couple of minutes.

Finally, now that you’ve made them want to speak with you, make it really easy for them to schedule with you.  Provide your availability for the next seven days with your response and try to provide the largest blocks of time as you can; don’t forget about before and after your normal working hours if that’s feasible for you.  Making it convenient to schedule a call with you will absolutely help you to land more of them.

With your call all set, it’s time for the final step:

Make them Love You

Like any service, if you establish a reputation as a top provider, you’ll always have a steady stream of people looking to do business with you.  Expert networks are no exception, and associates tend to turn to well-regarded experts first when they have a project to fill.

GLG Consulting Projects
It only takes a few quality calls to establish yourself as the top expert in your field – and for the opportunities to start pouring in!

One of the simplest, but most important traits of a good expert is to be reliable and punctual.  I’ve heard from a quite a few associates that I work with that there are few things they hate more than experts who reschedule at the last minute or don’t show up for a call.  It’s embarrassing for them and adds to their workload.  It can take just one missed call or client complaint for them to blacklist you from their entire network.

So find a quiet place, make sure you have a good headset and connection and show up on time.  I also always try to block out some extra time, in case calls run long.  Services like GLG that pay by the minute will keep paying for calls that extend past the allotted time, so it’s always nice to be able to pick up a few extra bucks if the client wants to talk beyond the 60 minute mark.

Finally, I do like to go against the conventional wisdom that you don’t need to prepare for these calls. 

As calls tend to mostly revolve around the same few companies, I like to jot down a quick framework of everything I want to cover with the client so I can lead the call in a comprehensive and authoritative way.  I want to make sure that I deliver a few key nuggets, examples and rules of thumb, as those tend be the deeper insights that clients are so eager to get at.  During the call, I also like to check in a few times to make sure that I’m giving them the type of information that they’re looking for

Ahead of a call, I also like to spend a few minutes checking to see there are any recent news about a company that I may unaware of, so I don’t lose credibility if I’m unaware of a major news story that just broke.  If a company just put out a financial report, I’ll give it at least a good skim so that I know the key numbers and any new strategic developments.  It helps me provide sharper insights on calls, plus I often pick up useful tidbits for my day job as well.

I believe that some expert networks have formal rating or ranking systems that help determine the types and volume of project opportunities you get access too, and perhaps even the rate they are willing to pay you.  They certainly all make note of both good and bad client feedback about you.  So put in just a little bit of extra effort to stand out and you’ll often be rewarded.