What Our Harvard Study Revealed About Generating New Leads

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    This is the story of how a Harvard Business School case study lead
    to the creation of our business. The story begins with our founder who
    was a seasoned small business owner and was always looking for ways of
    generating new sales leads for his tax practice in the most cost
    effective way possible. The Harvard study set out to answer one
    fundamental question: What should the ultimate referral system look like
    from the small business owners' viewpoint? After interviewing scores or
    small businesses and conducting concept engineering and logic chain
    techniques, Referral Key emerged as the world's first online platform
    that encourages referrals to drive revenue and build stronger
    professional relationships.

    Located in Boston, we were in the midst of a social networking frenzy.
    While every corporate blogger with too much free time seemed to be
    churning out stories promoting social/business networking as the next
    greatest thing since profits, we were hard at work trying to measure the
    actual ROI of these activities and look for a solution that would
    incorporate the familiarity of a meet up group with the undeniable
    cost/time effective advantage of an online tool.

    The case study at Harvard gave us incite into how a successful referral
    network works. We found that a common element within any successful
    referral relationship is 'trust". Trust is developed when you know
    an associate and are familiar with their work. When you refer a client to
    an associate your reputation is at stake as well. Trust is not a common
    trait amongst large social and business networking groups. Many
    sociologists find that virtual relationships hold little to no weight in
    the real world. Ironically, a recent BBC study found that people with
    more connections in the virtual world tended to have fewer connections in
    real world. There is nothing wrong with social networking but we were
    concerned with "actual" mutually beneficial relationships that
    drive revenue. Needless to say, having hundreds of contacts on LinkedIn
    may be a great way to promote your resume but will result in little if
    any qualified business leads.

    The second most important trend which emerged from our case study was
    that referral relationships break down when they are not mutually
    beneficial. If you send an associate 4 referrals and they don't send you
    any, it is likely that your business relationship will become dormant.
    This is the inherent dilemma hampering many meet-up groups. Besides being
    time consuming and expensive, meet up groups often attract very strong
    contributors as well as very weak contributors.

    The question then became: How can small business professionals exchange
    referrals with associates they know and trust, forge new relationships
    based on familiarity, and ensure all of these relationships remain
    reciprocal? It was out of this need that Referral Key was born:
    Unlike other sites, when you sign up with Referral Key you invite
    associates that you already know and trust to exchange referrals with
    you. This sends a clear message that you're serious about exchanging
    referrals. Because they know and trust you, there is a strong likelihood
    that they'll accept your invitation; solidifying your business
    relationship. You can then exchange referrals, rate those referrals, and
    use reporting tools to track the effectiveness of your referral network.
    To help ensure reciprocity, at the end of every quarter the system sends
    both you and your referral associates an email asking you to rate your
    referral relationship as either "balanced", "you should send more
    referrals" or "you should receive more referrals". Once
    both you and your associates have entered your assessments, Referral Key
    will compare your responses to determine if there is agreement.
    Within two weeks, you'll receive a quarterly appraisal report showing
    whether or not you and your associates are in agreement regarding your
    referral relationship. Referral Key makes it easy for you to
    quickly assess agreement with your associates using color coded scores:
    If there is an imbalance in the relationship both parties are encouraged
    to open up a dialog ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Finally, to develop "new" business relationships to exchange referrals,
    you can tap into your associate's networks. Suppose you are approached by
    one of your clients asking you to recommend a good real estate attorney.
    Well, you may not know a good real estate attorney but your associate
    "David" happens to know a real estate attorney by the name of
    "Alex". With David's permission, you can contact
    "Alex" through Referral Key with confidence and draw attention
    to your strong connection with "David". You can then send your
    client to "Alex". If the referral was qualified and timely it's
    likely that you'll have created a new referral relationship with
    "Alex" without ever compromising the familiarity or trust of
    your network.

    We've approached referral networking as a precise science. Regardless of
    outside economic forces, our member's professional relationships have
    remained fruitful and our business continues to grow
    exponentially.

    In a nutshell, for millions of small businesses, referrals are the single
    most important source of new revenue. Referral Key is a business
    networking utility that helps you manage your trusted referral
    relationships more effectively to increase sales, expand your
    professional network and differentiate yourself from your competition.
    Unlike other social or business networking sites that are focused on
    managing a vast number of professional contacts or have an asymmetrical
    benefit, Referral Key is a platform that encourages referrals to+drive+ revenue and build stronger professional
    relationships.