LinkedIN is great, but it’s growing a little long in the teeth on innovation. Is there anything LinkedIN has done to enable your business relationships lately? While instant reputation systems like Klout and Kred and PeerIndex are popping up, LinkedIN seems to be sleeping since their IPO. What will wake them up to the next level of interaction? Are they polishing a new app? Does LinkedIN have a Next-Gen road map for how they are going to change the world?
Today’s web, is pretty much business as usual circa 2001. LinkedIN has gone public and a number of other networks have arrived to attempt a reputation or referral building strategy. Most notibly BranchOut and Talent.me both based on Facebook, which is a bit of an odd pairing, but I applaud the attempt. But there is not much substance yet. We need a business network for doing business.
The PRIME Network Concept
1. Trust Building Network
I have a lot of people in my LinkedIN network. But how can I give the gold star of my endorsement to the 5 – 10 partners that I would enthusiastically refer business to? What’s the deeper level of trust? Beyond the marginal value of the recommendations, we need a WORKING NETWORK.
2. Referral Process
A simple process for connecting with other people in your LinkedIN network and “officially” ask for a referral. In theory these would be referrals that mean business. “I have a project in April and I’m looking for an iOS App Developer.” Put this into to your LinkedIN PRIME and your “working” network is alerted that there is potential money on the table. Too much of our “networking” activities are about potential business. The PRIME network would be for projects that already have the green light and the green dollars.
3. Work-In-Progress Reporting
In theory you want to hand off any project to any member of your PRIME network and *know* that everything is going great. In theory, you might spend a few cycles a week wondering, “Should I call and check in.” With a simple RED, YELLOW, GREEN status system, both sides of the deal could represent their current progress and success with the ongoing work.
4. Revenue Accounting
The money is the incentive. If the project goes well, the program is delivered on time. The referral fee would be paid. The mechanics of this would take a bit of work. But the process should be simple. (Check One: 1. Requires 50/50 payment upon start and completion of work; 2. Pays NET 30 upon completion of work; Pays NET 90.) Part of your participation in the PRIME network would be your willingness to agree to the terms.
5. Intra-network Sharing
Members of your PRIME Network would have elevated access to your contact information and the relationship between you and your “partners.” Perhaps a simplified bid outline form and disclosure agreements.
We need a company to step up to the plate and deliver a real referral network with contracts, financial incentive and compensation, and the network to link up your business with others. LinkedIN seems like the likely platform to make this possible. Perhaps Salesforce.com already has this type of connective networking.
Real referrals, real performance, real revenue – The PRIME Referral Network.
I know most business deals these days start with phone calls and intro emails like this, “Hey, John meet Phil.” But we really need a frictionless network for getting work done. Less coffees with potential partners and more funded opportunities to get done. The cost savings in time and Starbucks bills would be amazing. And then there’s the referral compensation!
We can do better. Who’s ready to step up and make it happen? (If I’m missing an obvious network that already exists, please let me know.)