It’s been a few months since I first wrote about Referral Key, and the comments don’t stop coming to that now-popular post. The Referral Key main guy (founder or ceo or something that escaped me) also weighed in with his highly unbiased opinion. Given the hubbub around this post, and the number of emails I receive from people asking me bizarre questions about Referral Key I am beyond unqualified to answer, I’m going to up my Referral Key knowledge.

I’ve decided to try a Referral Key experiment. We will call this the “what the heck is referral key anyway and does it do anything (?) experiment.” I have my hypotheses, as I’m sure you know. But I’m willing to be open-minded for this one.

The Referral Key Experiment

Here’s how it works:

Today, September 10, 2011 is Day 1.

We will now count how many days it takes for someone halfway normal and not offering aromatherapy dental support for my chinchilla enters my Referral Key network and provides something of valuable use that would actually help my life. When that person does arrive, and the magically useful thing happens, I will send them a copy of my new book, Twitter for Good.

Now, let’s be clear, I still don’t believe in the power of steak to garner qualified leads.


As such, I’m making this challenge easy for Referral Key and making it clear that my definition of “someone on Referral Key offering me something useful” is quite broad. There are many ways to actually provide value to me (and all humans) in this world, and we will now see if Referral Key is actually aimed to do that, or it’s true purpose is to drive us all (and our email inboxes) crazy.

My Action Steps:

  1. First things first, I got me a snazzy URL for my Referral Key Profile. The fact that I was able to score the shockingly incredible name of is, of course, just a tiny bit concerning as I ponder the number of users on this service.

2.   Then, I set up my profile. I included my photo and the typical bio that I pretty much always copy onto the web pages of speaking events with the caveat that I explained the “clients” I was seeking were actually not clients at all, but rather useful human connections as per this experiment. Under “Clients I’m Seeking”, I wrote: This is an experiment with Referral Key to see if it is possible to actually meet useful homo sapiens on this service. Read more about it here:

3.  Finally, I set up my new Referral Key automatic email. I have eschewed the horrid “If you’re taking on      new clients, I’d like to include you in my private referral network to send you business leads through Referral Key” in favor of the following:


Howdy —

Have you been getting spammy Referral Key messages in your inbox? Me too.

So now I’m trying to figure out the wild world of Referral Key.

See more about the dubious experiment here:



It’s still unclear to me what I do with this automatic email, besides spam people, so for now I’ll just let it sit there.

Your Action Steps:

If you’re on Referral Key, offer me something useful. Or, preferably, don’t. Let’s just all sit back and see if magic unfolds.

And now, let the Referral Key games begin!

Intentional work is the key to great innovation.

The Work by Design Summit is a FREE online conference to teach you the power of purposeful productivity.

Join 20,000 other attendees to:

  • Clarify your innovative purpose
  • Double your productivity
  • Explode your profits
Watch 50+ word-class innovators share their best tools and strategies.
The Social Brand

The Power of Digital Innovation

How to Use Twitter

Technology for Good