Monday, May 04, 2020

Joining An Expert Network: Market Intelligence Report

Take a look at my quick survey of some of the expert network and consulting platforms which you may want to join.  See the link to the free report below.

Expert Joining In

So called ‘expert networks’ have grown substantially over the past fifteen years; so much so that the marketplace might be considered fractured. While there are some large, long-term players in the market including GLG (Gerson Lehman Group), which defined the segment in the early 2000s, there are now many more recent entrants.

With the rapid development of the gig economy there has also been a smudging of the distinction between ‘expert networks’ and ‘consulting marketplaces’. The ‘expert network’ typically addresses short, discrete business questions whilst the ‘consulting marketplace’ delivers longer-term, project-based engagements. Unless full-time work prevents it, there is no reason not to join the two types of organization.

Both support the matchmaking aspect of consulting by introducing specific expertise (from the consultant) to a particular business need (the project). When they first came on the scene, platforms providing expert network engagements tended to define them as brief, telephone-based interactions which were over and done with quickly.

If this is similar in concept to online matchmaking, perhaps I need to make my profile a little racier
That model is still relevant but, as more companies recognize the benefits of ‘on-demand’ experts, they are not always thinking in terms of one-hour increments any longer.

This is good news for consultants and business executives looking to leverage their skills, knowledge and expertise. I’ve participated in many “expert” engagements over the years and I’d like to have done more. So, to understand this market a little better, I undertook this research.
It is not a complete survey but for anyone (at least in my network) new to this industry, it will provide useful insight and links to some of the larger players.

Many of the expert companies – big and small – have obvious but self-serving objectives to unlock knowledge from around the world to help their clients’ businesses make better decisions. But individual experts can also benefit by extending their networks, building their reputations, and even conducting different types of work outside their specialty while still drawing on their skills and expertise.

In my own experience, several phone consults have resulted in short market research engagements. While many types of companies seek advice from experts, I have found they tend to be mainly investment banks and private equity firms seeking specific information to support investments under consideration.

There has also been a smudging of the distinction between ‘expert networks’ and ‘consulting marketplaces’

It can be difficult to understand the client’s context without a relationship and I’ve sometimes had difficulty understanding the relevance of a client’s line of questioning. That said, I have always enjoyed these sessions.

Most of the firms on the attached list are broadly international in scope, although some do concentrate on specific geographic areas (such as the Gulf states or SE Asia, for example). And many of the larger firms cover a broad range of industry segments, having a large inventory of varied experts to support that coverage.

While I have seen some fracturing in the market there is also a lot of overlap from experts joining multiple platforms. Signing on to additional networks was one of my objectives and I am sure many others have also followed the same strategy.

Occasionally, the expansion of membership on these expert platforms may not always be advantageous. While it may be ‘anecdata’, right after I joined GLG in the mid-2000s I had a regular stream of consultations but, over time, as GLG got bigger and bigger, my referrals waned. I have not done a GLG consult in more than three years.

If this business is similar in concept to online matchmaking, perhaps I need to make my profile a little racier.

Signing up

When a consult is undertaken, the timing is often very precise and the client will not ordinarily pay for any prep work. You should take that into account when you set your rate. Recently, one call I had was booked for 45 minutes (which is what I would have billed for); however, the call was logged on their network platform at 42 minutes and that’s how my bill was calculated.

The attached list includes ‘traditional’ expert network companies like GLG and also consulting firms like Catalant, which features longer-term engagements and projects which can take a few days to a few months.

If you are considering this type of work, and do not have a full-time job, then I encourage you to look into these networks and sign up.

The report is FREE for download via this link.  (And please check out my web-site).

Michael Cairns is a publishing and media executive with over 25 years experience in business strategy, operations and technology implementation.  He has served on several boards and advisory groups including the Association of American Publishers, Book Industry Study Group and the International ISBN organization.   Additionally, he has public and private company board experience.   He can be reached at

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