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I would like to know if it would be possible to have a referral code for new users? If an existing user gives a friend a referral code to a stackexchange site, the user and the friend will receive N reputation points.

It could be something the new user does after signing up. Something like: "enter a referral code and we will give you N reputation points".

My argument is that I know people either at work or somewhere else that can positively contribute to stackexchange, and I can even ask them to email me an answer for a question, but there is no straightforward benefit to bring new people in that I am aware of.

In terms of gaming, one could set a limit of only one new user per week, or an exponentially decreasing reputation benefit based on the rate of referrals.

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If you contribute positively, you get rep. If you've contributed positively in the past on another site, you get a little rep on the new one. I'm not quite sure how that doesn't work in the context of your question? People should get privileges just for following a link? – Tim Post Jul 13 '11 at 7:25

Why should you get reputation points for referring people? Reputation is generally based on two things:

  • the amount of experience you have with the site
  • the quality of your contributions (both questions and answers)

Referring other users doesn't really show either of those criteria. Moreover, this is just too easily gamed. (Obviously the new user would gain reputation for things they do after signing up, like contributing useful content to the site in the form of questions and answers. No need for a referral code.)

We could perhaps award a badge, though. And in fact, this has already been suggested.

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It would certainly be possible.

But I don't think it is wise to implemented it because reputation is earned by contribution to the site. And not all (new) users are a positive contribution. Besides, this can be gamed quite easily.

However there are some badges that can be earned if you share a link to a specific question.

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I suggested that on Meta.SuperUser back in Jan. KronoS put it well enough for me:

I doubt that we will ever see this coming to the StackExchange community, as the purpose of the StackExchange is to encourage a Question/Answer atmosphere. This is not a blog in that we invite people to just read, but rather to give input. Sure there is a sense of looking for answers to your question, that may have already been answered here, but the ultimate goal is for a community driven questioning and answering.

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