I recently came across a new networking site. “Oh no, not another one,” I hear you mutter. Yes, another one. As though LinkedIn, Plaxo and even Facebook weren’t enough to keep track of.

Being very active in social media, I get sent links and invites to new sites on almost a daily basis. I try and look at all of them, but I have to confess — I take one look at most of them and move on.

The problem with most networking sites is that they are trying to replicate the success experienced by another site. In the business world, this usually means LinkedIn. Having been on LinkedIn for nearly six years, I’ve built a network of almost a thousand connections, and the thought of trying to replicate that elsewhere is more than a little unappealing.

So why did I bother with Referral Key? I almost didn’t. I took one look and thought it was just another LinkedIn clone. Then, I noticed their biggest difference -– referrals. I know the name of the site should have given that away, but to be honest, so many sites promise something in their title that they don’t actually deliver, so I’m not usually swayed by that.

Rather than just a simple networking site, Referral Key focuses on what we, as small business owners, actually want out of networking, new business. Let’s be honest, making interesting connections and possibly new friends is a great by-product of networking, but it doesn’t keep the lights on. What makes networking really useful is when it generates new leads. Of course, not every lead becomes a customer, but the more leads you get, the more chances you have. We all understand that math.

Referral Key allows you to set a price that you will pay someone for sending you a referral that turns into new business. I happened to set mine at $50, but you can set it as low as $5 or as high as $1000, and you can change it at any time. What is also nice is that the referral fee can be cash or a gift card from one of Referral Key’s partners, currently Callaway Golf, Omaha Steaks or LL Bean.

They have some useful videos to help you get the most out of the site and ensure that you actually generate referrals from it. While you are at it, you can also use your network to help you earn a few bucks as well.

Overall, I recommend taking a look at Referral Key and seeing if it can help you generate some new leads.

Image credit: ctrazmen