Used to be, we could only dream about easy access to authentic experts. But now, thanks to the Web, just a few keystrokes will get you pointers on how to approach a venture capitalist, tips on getting your computers running right or advice about how to fire employees or incorporate abroad. Whatever it is you need to know, the Web is teeming with sites where experts offer up pointed advice, either for free or for a small fee.
So how exactly do you sort out the pros from the cranks before committing to pay for an answer? The best sites let users rate their experts and, before making a deal, you can read the reviews. Most sites also offer some biographical details or abbreviated resumes on the experts, and some of these experts prove to be high-profile professionals.
Clicking to get more details on one expert, I discovered he was an executive at a top-rung VC firm-and for $200, he offers his insights. Another expert had been the CFO at a high-tech start-up, and for $20, he'll provide a quick take on business financing questions. Not all experts are this richly credentialed, however. Some border on the flaky or are obvious self-promoters. In any event, the choice of expert is yours.
Where to find experts? Probably the slickest of the expert sites is EXP.com (www.exp.com). But it's not alone; also competing for eyeballs in this space are ExpertCentral.com (www.expertcentral.com), XpertSite.com (www.xpertsite.com) and Allexperts (www.allexperts.com). Note: response times vary from site to site and from expert to expert. If you need to know now, hunt for experts who promise fast turnaround.
And remember: All these sites actively recruit experts, so how about you? Experts are needed in everything from business management to training a cockatoo to talk. Big bucks won't end up in your pocket (there are too many sites and too many experts competing for the cash), but this could be a fast way to earn small change while heightening your visibility.
To contact Robert McGarvey, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.