I’ve seen it happen many times….you meet a great connection at an event. When the event ends, you head to dinner at the restaurant nearby. Perhaps it’s the same location, perhaps it’s connection to the networking event location, or perhaps it’s just across the street. Either way, you immediately realize you weren’t the only one hankering for some food, and thinking about the closest place to get it, because you see a number of people from the same networking event or conference that have made their way to the same restaurant.
This recently happened to me at a conference. At that conference, I met a really good connection. We had some great conversations. I’m certain we will continue those conversations moving forward in the months and years to come. As I walked into the restaurant/bar at the conference location, my contact was sitting at the bar.
What most people would do at this point is head over, say hello, and pull up a chair. But I would argue that is the WRONG thing to do. While continuing conversations are great, it’s massively important that you not overstay your welcome. You may not be aware of this person’s personality traits as it pertains to being an introvert or extrovert. And…let me set the record straight, that just because someone was outgoing at the networking event doesn’t mean that they are like that all the time. In the random fact category, most people don’t realize that many speakers themselves are introverts. They gain energy by being alone and reflecting on their day. This isn’t true for just speakers, it’s true for many other people as well, which is why it’s so important that you respect their space.
Here’s what I did. I found a table, a strategic table, one that was not directly in front of my contact, but within eyesight without a head turn, and I sat down with someone else whom I was with. About 3-5 minutes later he made eye contact with me, and I simply nodded my head in acknowledgment that he saw me. That’s it!
I left it at that. And you should too!
I’ll follow up with him when the time is right. However, this acknowledging head nod increases the likelihood that I will be memorable to him, rather than the impression that I want to talk and take his time every time I see him!
This is the perfect reinforcement strategy!
Don’t be overbearing, remember that a simple acknowledgment works wonders to establish the top of mind awareness with your contacts that you are likely looking for.
This is also a strategy that you can use in a longer event like a conference where you might be there 3-5 days. If you meet someone on day one, don’t spend all free hours with this person throughout the conference. When you see them in the hallways simply give them a business head nod that shows you recognize them, smile, but keep walking. You are creating an impression in their mind and you will be more memorable when you follow up after the conference!