Editor's note: Raeann Bilow is content marketing architect and Sean Campbell is CEO of marketing research firm Cascade Insights. They can be reached at raeann.bilow@cascadeinsights.com and sean@cascadeinsights.com, respectively.

The expert network industry is booming. Currently, expert networks generate more than $1.9 billion in revenue in aggregate. There are also more than 100 expert networks in operation, with new entrants popping up regularly, and the space is projected to grow substantially, following a year-on-year growth rate of greater than 20% in 2021. 

B2B companies that utilize expert networks to recruit participants for research studies see substantial benefits, particularly in the quality of market research respondents. Specifically, these organizations can quickly interact with niche participants who have the exact job title, work history and area of expertise that is needed for a particular B2B study.

However, expert networks are a fast-moving new industry that comes with both risks and rewards. To help weigh the pros and cons, we’ve outlined some of the potential benefits B2B companies could gain – or what risks they might face – by working with expert networks.

What is an expert network? Expert networks connect clients with paid experts who share their industry or job role-related expertise. They facilitate the matching of expert respondents to a researcher’s interest area. They also schedule interviews, create processes to ensure that any information exchange is compliant and handle respondent incentives.

While expert networks have been with us for some time, at least since the launch of Gerson Lehrman Group’s offerings in 1999, the rapid rise of LinkedIn and other online resources that expert networks can access has fueled the recent boom. Platforms such as LinkedIn have nearly 850 million users and tend to expand rapidly due to network effects. Thus, expert networks c...