DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman I do not know just reached out to me per a mutual acquaintance's suggestion to see if I would help her in fundraising for her organization's new project. Huh? While her project sounds great, I am floored that this man put her in touch with me without bothering to find out if I was interested, or if it is even something that I have the skill to do. He just dumped this woman on me, and it became really awkward. I do not have the time or interest in her project, but I felt put-upon to figure out how to tell her without being dismissive or hurtful. Her project is valuable, but it isn't part of my agenda right now. I was able to extricate myself from her, but it was unnecessarily uncomfortable, and I feel resentful that this man put me in that position. Isn't there a better way to handle a situation like this from his perspective? And don't I have the right to call him to ask him why he set this up without my blessing? -- Caught in the Middle, New York City
DEAR CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE: When making referrals, especially when it involves asking someone to do something for someone, it is best to check with your contact first. Only after you find out that your contact is interested and available to accept the introduction or referral should you proceed.
What your mutual acquaintance did was inappropriate, and you are right to be concerned about it. It's good that you were able to be honest and gracious as you stepped out of this situation. And yes, you absolutely should follow up with your acquaintance to let him know that the way he handled the situation made for a mess. Do your best to stay calm throughout, but definitely let him know.