July 5th, 2019
Article 1 as part of the ‘How to use Expert Networks’ series
Since the founding of the first expert network provider in 1998, the industry has expanded significantly to an estimated number of around 50 expert network providers, making it increasingly difficult for the customers to select and navigate the web of expert networks.
From the first sight, the large number of players in the market should make the work of the customer much easier, and most are reaching out to many providers for each project in hope that the larger the number of agencies working on the request, the higher will be the number of experts to select from and the higher will be the chances of having an expert interview fast. Blind engagement of many providers however can result in numerous issues such as:
Choosing the right expert network provider, or a combination of providers is therefore key.
Five key areas to consider when choosing the Expert Network
While most expert networks provide only the contact of the experts or the connection via the phone, some provide additional services saving a lot of time and internal costs. Before choosing a provider therefore it is very important to understand what exactly it can offer or whether that meets all needs (also considering the evolution of the project).
The best expert networks for example provide enhanced expert network services together with the traditional research services, thus answering all client’s information needs throughout the entire phase of the project:
Expert networks can be global or specialized in different industries and regions. It is important to evaluate whether a vendor is equipped to access experts for the given assignment. Premier expert networks specialize and engage local staff with international qualifications and industry expertise thus being able to access experts where global players cannot and deliver on extremely niche topics and even in troubled, hard to access regions.
Some expert networks proactively build a database of experts and try to place each expert as often as possible, some reach out to a large pool of experts for each assignment, post advertisements for each project and submit all interested experts to the client to choose from. Highest quality expert networks on the other hand use a customized approach and engage in highly targeted recruitment thus avoiding any potential market noise and ensuring that only the top fitting experts are reached out to and only rigorously screened experts for requested topics are delivered either from the existing database or via ad-hoc recruitment for each assignment.
Expert networks engage in different manners with clients. Some ask the client to submit requests online and then generate the profiles from the existing database, some simply offer access to their database and the client must search himself/herself for the best suited profiles.
Top expert networks on the other hand provide a highly customized approach, take time with the client to fully assess exact information needs, advise on types of profiles, and, then engage in highly targeted recruitment to deliver only the most suited profiles screened for knowledge on the subject at hand. The best providers partner up with the client throughout each engagement giving full access to their teams and delivering high quality experts and insights fast. A full-service agency (offering expert network and research services) furthermore can advise the client regarding the most efficient and fitted approach to access the needed information, which services to select, and in the end can deliver both qualitative and quantitative information depending on whichever need comes up throughout the entire project lifecycle.
One does not need to summarize how important it is to work with the expert network which follows the highest confidentiality and compliance standards. While all expert networks do sign expert agreements including compliance and advertise that they do follow the highest standards, what exactly this entails still always needs to be examined in detail (even with already company approved vendors). Areas to consider include:
Top-tier expert networks are committed to all the above. They have strong agreements which are in line with local and global requirements including GDPR regulations, provide ongoing training to both experts and staff, and have random check-mechanisms in place to ensure all requirements are followed. Furthermore, they follow a highly targeted approach, meaning that only top pre-selected experts are approached and via personal channels.