My Referral Key

06.21.11

ReferralKey.com has somehow overtaken my inbox this week. I’ve had a dozen of these

ReferralKey.com letter sample

While ReferralKey seems like a good idea, there are parts of it that just don’t work. Claire Diaz Ortiz has written a great post about Referral Key and suggests that she knows some ways to fix it. Essentially Referral Key allows people to pay you for referring them business.

Do you see what I just did there? I just referred you to a specialist in the field. I didn’t do that for Claire, I did that for you. The fatal flaw in Referral Key is that the payment is to the wrong person.

When someone calls or emails me needing a referral for a specialist in a certain field I almost never answer them immediately. The only time I answer immediately is if I am the expert or my brother is. Every other referral takes at least a few hours of thought. Here are just a few of the questions I’m asking myself before I refer you a friend:

  • Are they the most talented person I know in that field?
  • Would I want to work with this person I’m about to refer?
  • Would I want to work with the company that’s searching for someone?
  • Would they work well together?
  • What is my referrals work style and/or work ethic?
  • Do I care enough for the person who is asking to risk a relationship on them?

Most often I can come up with at least two names, but sometimes I can’t or won’t. Referrals are not something I give lightly and I would not be happy if you referred me a friend because they bought you an Omaha Steak.