For some reason, when I get calls from companies with small SEO projects, I simply draw a blank when trying to think, who locally I should refer them to.
Of course several independant consultants come to mind, but the really good ones are always too busy. I don’t want to refer these projects into a situation where they can’t be helped. There are also a number of local agencies that “also do” SEO, but these projects are likely too small. Or the agencies aren’t very good at SEO.
I avoid at all costs just saying, “We’re not taking on projects, or your budget is too small, good luck and goodbye.” I don’t mind referring them on to someone that can help. However, it must be a give and take situation and it must be respectful.
I avoid referring to consultants outside of our geographic area (with a few exceptions). In fact there’s a few SEO/SEM firms that have really blown it by being aarogant or just flat out unappreciative. I’ve passed a good number of projects as small as $500/mo and as large as $10,000/mo to someone else because of that.
Maybe it would make sense to create some kind of referral exchange site or a private blog. Members could post projects/leads and other members could go in and see what would be a good fit. Would that work? I am not so sure.
Personally, I prefer to have a small network of trusted companies and/or consultants that I know will do a great job, that appreciate the business I’m sending them and that are reliable.