March 31, 2016 \ Rachel Jellinek
Building Relationships: Giving and Receiving Introductions



Most of us recognize the importance of building relationships and networks to advance our marketing and fundraising goals. But many of us may fall short in terms of making connections for others or seeking introductions for of a variety of reasons. In a recent presentation at Women in Development of Greater Boston, Kristin Wright Howard shared some insights.

Building relationships and creating a culture of bounty

In a crowded nonprofit landscape, it is easy to become territorial and protective of our donors and other connections. As understandable as that mindset might be, Kristin cautioned that it is not an effective approach. Relevant to my last blog on high impact philanthropy, opening doors and creating greater trust is a more powerful way to strengthen bonds with donors and have a more meaningful impact on the communities you serve.  You never know where that goodwill will lead you!

Managing Fears and Expectations around Giving Introductions

Are you worried about how the person you do an introduction for is going to protect your reputation or brand?  Are you concerned about not knowing how the communication goes after you make the connection?  Kristin shared some simple tips on how to overcome your own introduction objections:

  • Make your preferences clear – It is okay to say, “If I do an introduction, I want to be kept in the loop, please.”  Or “If I do an introduction, I need you to respond within 24 hours, please.”
  • Say what is off limits – “I am okay with you reaching out for market research but not to ask for money.”
  • If you don’t feel comfortable giving an actual introduction but are willing to grant permission to use your name, it is equally important to share your communication expectations.  (e.g., “I’m okay with one call and one follow-up email, but if there is no response after that, then please leave them alone.”)

Qualifying an Introduction Request

Are you concerned about imposing on someone by asking for an introduction? When asking for introductions, think about:

  • Is there an opportunity for reciprocating?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Do interests align?
  • Is your ask appropriate based upon the relationship that you have with that person?
  • Are you ready to share the impact and show appreciation?

Here is a Forbes article Kristin recommended on exercising your relationship building muscles!