In the few instances where I went that route I just asked my client to give them a heads-up that I would be contacting them. For me that warmed the potential link source up that I would be a "friendly nuisance" sanctioned by my client who potentially had a better rapport with them but didn't understand the technicalities about the process.
<edit>reason: got my Frenglish mixed up and changed a word -- thanks Leo :)</edit>
[edited by: SevenCubed at 5:43 pm (utc) on Sep 9, 2012]
That's a good approach I agree. Seems better than trying to coach your client or give them some kind of script to follow, or things to include in the discussion.
I find it's easier that way. It's always obvious when someone is trying to convey something that they aren't familiar with because their speech becomes awkward and choppy and that can discourage someone on the other end who might be pressed for time. For example it's so obvious when I call up some tech support department to resolve an issue only to have that excellent technical support person try to turn themselves into a salesperson through some upsell script. It's painful and I just want to get off the line.
SevenCubed's approach is how i'd probably go. Most of the time it takes a few follow-ups to conclude and I wouldn't see the client doing that. If they did leave it to them, they might ask why they are paying me to do it.
For every pro there is usually a con lurking somewhere. Before moving forward with a project it's important to dig around for the cons. Here is one to consider:
1. Negative publicity
This is probably the biggest reason why it's important to keep a client's name confidential. Some people, many people, hate getting contacted about links, period. What if the contactee has a freakout that the client is spamming them?
Asking the client to make the initial outreach can be like sending them out into a minefield blindfolded. There are many bad things that can happen to them as a consequence.
For every pro there is at least one con. Any more cons to consider?
Under what circumstances does asking the client to make the contact make sense?
Under what circumstance does asking the client to make the initial contact not make sense?
Local sites approaching local prospects who know them or their business. It would not work across a city, but within a small town or a suburb with a relatively small number of locally owned businesses everyone is likely to have heard of everyone else.
We always control the outreach because our value proposition is high value.
Trust and authority in the relationship developed working on behalf of the client is as good as the natural link you developed for them. We have met, and retained many great relationships and friends from link building. It's not what you know...
The only time I've ever tried to facilitate a client reaching out first is when they already have a relationship with the contact. Normally, like SevenCubed alluded to, this is simply an introductory email, unless the client or webmaster knows what they're doing, and you simply provide guidance on location/anchor text/etc.