13 Aug 2021
How do I use expert networks?
Expert networks give you access to industry experts. Interviewing experts is one of the most effective ways to get deep market insights.
People typically engage expert networks to learn about a new market, product line, or investment opportunity. This article tells you who uses expert networks, and best practices for using them.
Who uses expert networks?
Strategy and leadership teams, when facing a strategic decision.
Private equity teams analyzing an investment opportunity.
Consulting firms doing research for client projects, often due diligences.
Portfolio managers at asset managers and hedge funds, analyzing a stock.
And many others, including teams in marketing, investor access, product development. Speaking with an expert is a versatile way to get insights, fast.
Here's an example:
How strategy professionals use expert networks
Linda, the Strategy manager at Acme Inc. runs a profitable business selling widgets across the US. Acme has an ambitious growth target and considers both M&A and organic growth options. Linda sees two options as particularly attractive:
Establish a sales team in Germany, to sell Acme’s widgets in an entirely new market.
Acquire Virtucon Inc., a Canadian widget supplier.
Linda logs onto Inex One and launches a project. She asks for experts who can help her understand the local markets in both Germany and Canada. The expert networks on Inex One present her with 10 experts each from Germany and Canada. These experts include:
The former CEO and former salespeople at Virtucon and other widget suppliers.
Purchasing managers at widget-buying companies.
Not sure what questions to ask the experts? Use our best-practice expert network interview guide – available on Inex One.
Linda schedules interviews with four experts, both in Germany and Canada. The experts have each spent 20+ years in their markets and are happy to share their perspectives. Linda learns about strong Canadian competitors that she wasn’t aware of, and the unexpected dynamics of selling widgets in Europe.
After a full day of interviews, she takes a few days to consider what she has heard. Eventually, she decides to pause the Virtucon idea. She schedules a few more interviews in Germany and – following an impulse – also a few interviews in France and Italy.
Linda discovers that the European markets seem like a good fit for Acme's widgets. She also discovers that a French widget producer is up for sale, being divested from conglomerate LeGrosCo. The company has a well-regarded brand in Europe, but it has lately struggled with employee churn. The regulators stopped a local widget competitor from acquiring it, leaving the company in lack of a direction.
Sensing an opportunity to get a flying start in Europe, Linda begins preparing a deck for Acme’s management...