Common mistakes to avoid when looking for experts

Written by Harri Lamden, Senior Associate, 23 September 2019

As a Senior Associate at, I use our AI technology to find experts and connect them with customers who need their expertise. From matching a life sciences consultancy with a specialist in generalised pustular psoriasis to connecting a venture capital firm with key opinion leaders in the commercial market for genomic analysis reagents, the range is broad. Having worked on several projects with various customers, there are a few things I’ve picked up along the way when it comes to finding quality experts. 

The common mistakes discussed in this blog post that organisations sometimes make when looking for experts could result in the loss of a pre-bid proposal, letting end clients down, missing deadlines, not getting a broad enough range of quality insights, not engaging with a high calibre of experts and in the worst-case scenario, seeing their project fail. By highlighting these pitfalls, this blog post aims to help you avoid them.

Common mistakes to avoid when looking for experts

1. Searching for experts yourself

If your role includes having to find experts for primary insight, it’s highly likely that you work at a consultancy, a venture capital firm, or a market research company, to name a few. You’re often working on multiple projects simultaneously and have a range of responsibilities, such as project and team management, developing strategies to create value add for your end clients, navigating client relationships and communications, curating screeners, compiling discussion guides for expert calls and so much more. In short, you’re a busy person. With all these priorities demanding your attention, searching for experts isn’t necessarily the best use of your time. Let the expert network find you the specialists so you can focus on other areas to make your project succeed.  

2. Leaving the search for experts to the last minute

A lot of times customers fail to find the experts they need after conducting an extensive manual search and turn to us at the last minute to help them. Although we’re capable of delivering on tight turnaround times – thanks to our AI technology I once helped a customers find a specialist in a niche area and booked a call with them in three hours – it’s not optimal. It can mean, especially for rare topics where not many experts exist, that your perfect expert might not be reachable in such a short window, and you then miss out on their phenomenal insight. You’ve also got to factor in the back and forth between finding the expert, approving them and confirming the engagement.

3. Creating a screener that acts as a barrier

Screeners are important. They help ensure that you get the precise experts you’re looking for. However, they become problematic when they’re long and complicated. A lot of the time the experts you want to engage with are incredibly busy and have demanding jobs. The last thing a top surgeon wants to do after being in theatre for 14 hours is answer a two-page screener. Your screener could be preventing you from engaging with specialists who are the best in their fields. Try and keep them short, requesting only the information you need to decide whether a call with them is warranted. We recommend no more than six questions that are quick to answer. The best ones are multiple choice questions where experts can simply choose their answer and move onto the next one.

4. Lack of flexibility

You’ve got to bear in mind that the experts you want to engage with may be located on the other side of the world to you, so it’s important to be flexible with your time. A call at 2 PM might be great for you if you’re in Los Angeles but not so great for the expert who’s in France where it would be 10 PM.

5. Having below market honoraria

I know reimbursement rates and tight FMVs can be a touchy subject, so I’ll keep this one short. If you or your client aren't able to offer experts honoraria related to the market and their experience, it can lead to a lower volume of experts interested in participating. 

6. Poor communication with the vendor 

It’s important to keep open channels of communication with the vendor to ensure that you get the primary insight you need from the best minds out there. Not being clear about the experts you want (or not being entirely sure), nor about your desired outcome for the project can stall the progress of the project and make it difficult for the vendor to find the specialists you're looking for. It's always useful to give the vendor some context about the project. Understandably, there are certain aspects you're not allowed to divulge but knowing the purpose and the goals of the project can really streamline the searching process. And make sure that if anything changes along the way, the vendor should be one of the first to know about it. Like most situations in life, communication is key.

7. Internal misalignment

Ideally, there should be one project lead who communicates with the vendor to avoid any confusion. Realistically, this often isn’t the case and many people are often involved in a project, but this isn’t an issue. The challenge emerges when people within a team have conflicting ideas on what they want and communicate mixed messages to the vendor. Understandably, this can cause chaos. Before reaching out to a vendor, ensure everyone on your team is on the same page.

8. Sitting on expert profiles

We know you have a busy schedule and that there are sometimes internal developments that stall the decision-making process but try to keep things moving along as much as possible, especially when it comes to approving an expert’s profile. At, we send our customers data-backed expert profiles to review sourced by our smart AI technology. Once they approve the profile this gives us the green light to schedule the call. If a client takes too long to approve a profile, especially if the project has a tight timeline, we run the risk of the expert losing interest or filling up their calendar and dropping off altogether. This will result in having to start the process of finding experts all over again. 

9. Too many contracts to sign

Like the screeners, having too many contracts to sign can result in many experts turning down a project. If you've got a screener and mountains of paperwork for the experts to sign, the whole process decelerates to snail pace. It’s important to ensure that all parties are protected legally but where possible try and simplify this. You don’t want to lose out on world-class experts because of paperwork. 

10. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ mentality

The expert network industry has been dominated by a few key players over the years and for this reason alone some organisations choose to work with them and overlook others. Although years in practice is a valid indicator to consider when seeking the services of a primary insights vendor, there are other factors to keep in mind. Such as the quality of the specialists, the standard of service, the techniques and technology they use to find experts, how precisely they match the experts to your criteria, and more. Don’t let ‘we’ve always done it that way’ mentality be your decision-maker. 


At the beginning of this blog post I mentioned that I use our AI technology to find experts and connect them with customers who need their expertise. Based on a customer's criteria, this technology, powered by machine learning, searches the breadth of the internet to find the world’s leading specialists with unparalleled precision. Thus enabling to match customers with quality experts whenever they need them. Finding experts to provide primary insight doesn’t need to be headache-inducing. By avoiding these mistakes and working with a quality expert network you're on track to get the insight you need.


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Topics: Best practice