Introducing the Uplink referral program

Photo on Visual Hunt

tl;dr — If you are a member of Uplink and put us in touch with a new client, we will pay you 300€, as soon as we can successfully place a freelancer with that client in the following six months!

Since starting Uplink in August 2016, word-of-mouth has been our most important and effective ‘acquisition channel’ for new clients.

Sure, we actively reach out to many companies of which we know that they work with freelance developers, and a good amount of those leads turn into clients. Also, many companies find us via Google, where Uplink quickly started ranking quite high for some relevant keywords.

But, by far, the best experiences we have had were with clients that were referred to us by our members!

The reason is simple: when we are introduced to a client by somebody they know and trust, that trust is passed on to us, meaning we can skip the explanations about how we are not just another shady IT recruiting firm, and go directly to explaining what Uplink is and why it works. Once there, we haven’t found a single client who didn’t want to work with us!

Most of the time, our members didn’t expect reimbursement for introducing us to a new client — they were simply happy to help the client (and sometimes, to get them off their back!) or maybe to help a fellow Uplink member who could work with that client instead. When the question came up, though, we always offered the freelancer a share of the revenue that we would make with the new client in the first six months. Even then, most freelancers declined (maybe shunning the extra ‘follow up with Uplink about client XYZ’ to-do).

Nevertheless, today we’re introducing a ‘reward’ for introducing a new client to us — we will pay you a flat sum of 300€ as soon as we manage to place a freelancer with your client in the six months following the introduction.

There are two main reasons for this: on the one hand, we recently raised our fees and would like to offer our members a simple way to make some of that money back. On the other hand, we want to encourage more of our members to recommend clients to us (of course!), and we hope this sum is a nice incentive to send that one quick intro email!

Here are some questions we have had members ask us upon hearing about this new scheme:

Q: Why is it a flat sum instead of a percentage of what the new client will bring in revenue?

Initially, we planned to make it 20% or 30% of what we make from the new client in the first three or six months. However, this would considerably increase the complexity of tracking the introductions from our side, and the freelancer wouldn’t know what his or her recommendation was worth until that period was over. Did I make 100€ or 1000€ from my referral? A flat sum makes it much simpler for both sides.

Q: Why do you limit the payout period to six months?

Because we are most interested in meeting clients who are actively looking for a freelancer right now, or in all likelihood very soon. In our experience, talking to clients who are not actively searching for freelancers rarely turns out to be a good investment of our time, or theirs. In the busy world of startups, agencies, or corporate IT departments, nobody remembers you a few months down the line.

Q: What kind of clients are you looking for?

The most important condition is — see the previous answer — that the client is currently (or most likely very soon) looking for a freelance developer. The most common case are clients who have contacted you about a project, but you don’t have the time or desire to do it. Apart from that, it should simply be a client that you would consider working for yourself and who has a realistic budget for a freelancer in Germany. If they are looking for a “cheap” developer, they might have better chances finding one at Upwork instead of Uplink.

Q: What if you already know the client?

Yeah, this one is tricky. It hasn’t happened yet, but of course it might be the case that we already know the client from another referral or have worked with them before, or even that they have contacted us regarding the same project. In that case, we will tell you about it immediately and ask you to trust us. You can rest assured that — when in doubt — we will always be more inclined to err on the fair side of paying you the reward rather than insisting that we’ve already heard of the the client or project before. If you want to check whether we know the client already before introducing them to us, simply send us a mail and describe them (or the project) and we will tell you if we know them.

Q: When and how will I get the reward?

We will automatically track when a new client was introduced and ping you via Slack or email as soon as someone from Uplink starts working for that client in the six months following your introduction. We will then ask you to issue an invoice to us for the 300€ (+ VAT) and pay it immediately.

Q: How should I introduce the client?

Simply send a mail to the client with me (manuel@uplink.tech) in CC and tell them a bit about Uplink (e.g., that we are a network of handpicked freelance developers and that our approach is different from classic IT recruiters). If possible, mention a few details about the client and their project in the mail as well. I will then take over and schedule a first phone/Skype call with them!

If you have any more questions, please leave a comment or contact me via email (or Slack, if you already a member of Uplink).


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