The ActiveRain Network — a social networking site that’s attracted more than 35,000 real estate professionals — has rolled out a new tool to make it easier for members to refer clients to each other.
The ActiveRain Referral Exchange will allow real estate agents, mortgage lenders, appraisers and title company officers who want to make a referral to post details about their client’s needs. They then choose among ActiveRain members who step forward to receive the referral.
ActiveRain Chief Executive Officer Matt Heaton said there’s already “a huge amount of referrals happening behind the scenes” among ActiveRain members, who get to know each other through their posted bios, blogs and blog comments.
The Referral Exchange is designed to take some of the work out of the process, such as contacting other agents to see if they want a referral. The ability to leave feedback will also help ActiveRain members assess the track record of colleagues they are considering making referrals to, Heaton said.
“People will sometimes hand off referrals to another agent, and the referral gets dropped,” Heaton said. “The same agent will sometimes do that over and over again.”
Both the referring agent and the agent accepting the referral can leave feedback, in much the same way buyers and sellers on eBay do.
Any referral fees or compensation are negotiated directly between parties and not reported to ActiveRain, which plans to offer the service free to members for the rest of 2007. ActiveRain plans to charge $20 a month for the service once it has some “traction” in critical markets.
Although Heaton expects that to happen gradually, the ActiveRain Network has members in all major U.S. markets that the Referral Exchange can tap. While designed as a stand-alone platform, Heaton said the Referral Exchange will also provide another incentive to start blogging through the ActiveRain Network.
Members seeking to make a referral will “click on (another agent’s) blog, see what they’re writing about, and get an idea of their personality and how much they know,” Heaton said. Frequent and knowledgeable ActiveRain bloggers will win more referrals by demonstrating their local market expertise, he said.
That’s the same philosophy behind ActiveRain Network’s “consumer facing” site, Localism.com, where ActiveRain members post articles geared for potential clients rather than other real estate professionals.
Heaton said several thousand ActiveRain members have posted articles to Localism.com, which is attracting 4,000 to 5,000 unique visitors a day and is “becoming a pretty good source of leads for agents.”