Referral Key: A Networking Tool with Rewards

I recently came across a new networking site. “Oh no, not another one,” I hear you mutter. Yes, another one. As though LinkedIn, Plaxo and even Facebook weren’t enough to keep track of.

Being very active in social media, I get sent links and invites to new sites on almost a daily basis. I try and look at all of them, but I have to confess — I take one look at most of them and move on.

The problem with most networking sites is that they are trying to replicate the success experienced by another site. In the business world, this usually means LinkedIn. Having been on LinkedIn for nearly six years, I’ve built a network of almost a thousand connections, and the thought of trying to replicate that elsewhere is more than a little unappealing.

So why did I bother with Referral Key? I almost didn’t. I took one look and thought it was just another LinkedIn clone. Then, I noticed their biggest difference -– referrals. I know the name of the site should have given that away, but to be honest, so many sites promise something in their title that they don’t actually deliver, so I’m not usually swayed by that.

Rather than just a simple networking site, Referral Key focuses on what we, as small business owners, actually want out of networking, new business. Let’s be honest, making interesting connections and possibly new friends is a great by-product of networking, but it doesn’t keep the lights on. What makes networking really useful is when it generates new leads. Of course, not every lead becomes a customer, but the more leads you get, the more chances you have. We all understand that math.

Referral Key allows you to set a price that you will pay someone for sending you a referral that turns into new business. I happened to set mine at $50, but you can set it as low as $5 or as high as $1000, and you can change it at any time. What is also nice is that the referral fee can be cash or a gift card from one of Referral Key’s partners, currently Callaway Golf, Omaha Steaks or LL Bean.

They have some useful videos to help you get the most out of the site and ensure that you actually generate referrals from it. While you are at it, you can also use your network to help you earn a few bucks as well.

Overall, I recommend taking a look at Referral Key and seeing if it can help you generate some new leads.

Image credit: ctrazmen

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.


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  1. Pingback: Referral Key: A Networking Tool with Rewards | Small Business Bonfire « Fresh Small Business

  2. Simon,

    What a brilliant blog and post. You hit the nail on the head and are clearly an innovator and aren’t afraid to introduce new solutions beyond the same 3 sites.

    Anyone serious about small business change would be wise to follow this blog.

    Thanks so much for the kind and honest words.


  3. Thanks so much for this post. I recently received an invitation from someone (who I didn’t know) and the lack of explanation on the site made me click away pretty quickly. Glad to know it’s legitimate and I will take another look at it.

  4. I conduct a daily webinar at VOMI titled “How to Virtual Organize Your Social Network” for business professionals who want to learn how to leverage the power of the social network to their individual or collective benefit. ReferralKey and VOMI both have the same mission and, from hereon, I will prominently feature ReferralKey as a KEY tool to use during my daily webinar.

    It’s an idea whose time has come and I am sure they will be hugely successful in the years to come.

  5. Referral Key is a refreshing addition to the ever-evolving social media landscape. Sales and business people alike need an effective way to refer business to trusted people they know and Referral Key just may be the answer.

    Who doesn’t need more business in today’s economic climate? Now, I can quickly search professionals who might add value to specific projects I am working on and bring them into the fold. Conversely, when I come across a potential project that might be outside my scope of expertise, I simply refere it to a memeber and GET PAID!

    – Peter Cianci
    Network Technology Solutions, Inc.

  6. So, Simon… it’s April of 2013 and I’m reading your article on ReferralKey (from 22 June 2011); along with Chris Ott’s glowing commentary on your ‘brilliance’ as an innovator. I’d like to know just how well RK has worked for you. How much money, through business referrals, has using RK brought – in the form of cold-hard-currency – to your business bottom-line? Real, monitized referrals.

    I’m here as a result of Googling ‘ReferralKey’, because I am in the midst of researching, what appears to be a pervasive and spreading, business tragedy.

    I’ve recently been the recipient of an uncontrolled wave of ReferralKey email blasts. I say ‘uncontrolled’, because the emailblast was initiated based upon the senders’ ‘OK’ in the initial sign-up phase for a Free trial of Referral Key services. And despite their best efforts of these potential new clients, they cannot seem to stop the chaos of the constat emailblast barrage. In the case of a couple of the accounts that I’ve been in contact with, they have not received any return assistance, when requested, from Referral Key.

    The emailblast lists are all sent out in OpenList formats: presenting publically visible email lists of hundreds of email addresses. Most of the lists are so large that by the time 4 people have replied with ‘REMOVE ME FROM THIS LIST’ requests, It takes upwards of 3-4 minutes to load a single email in Gmail !

    The senders, whom I am in contact with, originated in LinkedIn and they are, to a member, bemoaning their decision to use ReferralKey. They are being bombarded daily by dozens of email requests to ‘remove them’ from the list, to which they find themselves – unauthorized and attached. Many of these requests are from very upset recipients. Most of the requests are quite adament about the removal. The most irascible are not condoned for their poor behavior, but it is understandable that they are offended by seeing someone – they do not know – openly displaying their email address to hundreds of other unknowns.

    For many, finding the source to be a LinkedIn list, there is a feeling of betrayal by LinkedIn and the ‘colleague’ to whom they accepted as a ‘trusted business contact’. Definitely NOT a good way to begin or grow a business relationship. Bad Juju all around!

    Those who have now become perpetrators of the massive SPAM offensives, are faced with reparing potentially huge SPAM damage to their reputations… and wiping a great deal of rotten-egg off their business face.

    Thus, in light of this ‘bonfire of business activity’, I am most curious how Referral Key worked for you over the transpired – near 22 months – since you wrote the above article.

    Thank you in advance for your honest reply.


    les booth

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