Today I got an unsolicited email from Referral Key. The email told me that one of my LinkedIn connections is waiting for me to review a message. The email included the name of the LinkedIn connection.
This LinkedIn connection is someone who can help me in networking and is someone I trust. Although I had never heard of Referral Key, I followed the link to Referral Key based on a trusted referral. I use membership sites to network. Interested to see the benefits of this new website, I created an account.
LinkedIn Connections: In the website’s update feeds, I saw a link leading to a video on how to import my LinkedIn connections to Referral Key.
I stopped at that point and signed out of Referral Key. My connections on LinkedIn are of professional value to me. Because I have known some of those connections for years, many of them have become friends. I certainly was not going to turn over information about my thousands of connections to a website I knew nothing about.
I reflected on the request. As the day progressed, I began to wonder what type of site Referral Key might really be. I Googled “Referral Key spam.” The search results listed article after article about spam issues with Referral Key.
I occasionally get invitations to membership sites that include the name of a contact who invited me. Since I do not normally respond to these invitations, I am not certain how these websites generated these emails. I suspect that cases of spamming contacts of members are more common than I have previously noted. I will be more aware in the future.
Referral Key is not for me. That statement does not mean that Referral Key is not for everyone. The network may work for some businesses. It appears to help people connect based on Zip Code
However, Referral Key opted me into an unsolicited email and used my connection’s name to create trust.
I will use this experience to judge how I respond to future invitation emails. I generally just ignore invitations like this one. However, the invitation had the name of a trusted referral in the subject line. This method of sending emails to a person’s connections is definitely a huge caveat for people who import their LinkedIn connections or address book into Referral Key or any membership site.
How to cancel your Referral Key account: I cancelled my Referral Key account by clicking on Settings, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and clicking to cancel account.
Image: Yoel Ben-Avraham/Flickr