What is an Expert Network?

Quietly, a secretive industry has been growing like crazy, influencing billions – if not trillions – of dollars in investment decisions and creating a lucrative side hustle hundreds of thousands of professionals. If you been invited to participate in a paid consulting opportunity and are wondering what is an expert network, you may have just received your golden ticket. Here’s what you need to know.

Should you consult for an expert network?

I charge $300 – $500 per hour to do expert network consulting, and it is ridiculously easy work. It reminds me of my favorite Lloyd Dobler quote from Say Anything:

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

If you’re unfamiliar with expert network consulting, you may be missing out one of the easiest and highest paying consulting gigs out there.

Expert networks – such as GLG, AlphaSights, Guidepoint, and Third Bridge – connect investors and management consultants looking to rapidly do a deep dive into a company or market with “experts” who know all about it. These are typically former employees, customers, vendors, or competitors.

No matter what your area of expertise, there are probably expert networks out there trying to match you with projects. While these industry has some notoriety for paying over $1,000/hour to connect clients with Fortune 500 CFOs or specialized surgeons, there is far more need for everyday folks like marketers, IT managers, sales people, and even potato farmers. (Consulting rates are generally $100 – $250 for people earlier in their careers and $300 – $500 for mid-career professionals, like Vice Presidents.)

The typical engagement is a simple one hour phone call with the client, where you give a data dump and answer their questions. It’s always stuff that is second nature to you, but enables them to peel back the curtain for polished investor presentations and press releases to rapidly understand what’s really going on with a business. Stuff you barely need to think about can be often be mind-blowing information for an investor who is trying to decide whether or not to put (many) millions of dollars to work.

And best of all, as soon as you hang up the phone, your work is done. You don’t need to prepare for the calls or do any research and there is zero follow up. No marketing and no selling; the expert networks do that all for you. Even better, payment will show up in your bank account a week or two after the call.

How do you get started with expert networks?

The expert network industry is growing like crazy. There are well over 100 firms around the world, generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue. They are facilitating over 1 million of these high paying micro-consulting calls per year, and are CONSTANTLY looking for new experts to consult from virtually any field or industry that you could image.

There are three main ways to get started with the expert network industry:

  1. Get found on LinkedIn. Most people discover the secretive world of expert networks when they receive a LinkedIn message inviting them to briefly ‘consult’ with an expert network’s client at an hourly rate of their choosing. These messages can seem a little scammy or spammy, but 99% of the time they are your ticket in. Expert networks employ small armies of young recruiters who spend their entire day scouring LinkedIn to find people who match the qualifications required in project specs.
  2. Register directly with the expert networks. Many expert networks enable you to create a profile with them via their website. They care about what you know more than what you can do, so approach these profiles in different way than you would your LinkedIn profile or resume. List every product, company and market that you can knowledgeable speak about for at least half hour – customers, vendors, competitors, former employers, etc. So much of expert network recruiting is keyword driven (recruiters don’t really know much, if anything, about the subject matter their client wants to learn about), so put the names and phrases they are likely to be looking for into your profile and wait for your email box to fill up with new opportunities.
  3. Get referred. Have a friend or colleague who works with an expert network? Ask them to introduce you! Most expert networks actively solicit referrals, and some even pay a small referral fee for people who complete their first project. And don’t worry about competing with your buddy – oftentimes, clients want to speak multiple people with similar experiences (i.e. a few former employees from the same company) to see if there is consistency in their responses.