You then disengaged, cruised the room and started talking with other people. By not overstaying your welcome, you left them with a positive impression.
Here’s the next step. Circle back before the end of the evening. The two classic bottlenecks at a gala are the coat check line and the parking valet station. Here are five approaches you can take to reconnect:
- We have a lot of shared interests… You list a few, establishing the rationale why it makes sense to see each other again. “I would like to stay in touch. How do I do that?” Stop talking. They have lots of options. “I’m on LinkedIn. Send me an invite.” or “Here’s my card.” or “Here’s a cocktail napkin. Do you have a pen?” If they pat their pockets, saying “I don’t have any cards,” that’s probably a signal they don’t want to stay in touch. Don’t list those alternatives! Let them off the hook. If they volunteered some information, I usually take one of my business cards and write “Bryce and Jane” on the back with our home phone number. Sometimes I add “talked about wine” as a reminder. I present the card handwritten side first. This communicates the personal nature of the connection, but the flip side shows my business identity.
- We’re heading out to dinner… This doesn’t happen after galas. It happens after cocktail receptions or meetings without much food. You ask if they would like to join up. Maybe you mention the restaurant. Everyone needs to eat. People enjoy the company. You may be extending the conversation immediately. You split the bill. Picking it up this early in the relationship sends danger signals.
- Establish your value. It’s a variation of “shared interests.” Earlier, they might have told you they were going to Barcelona on vacation. You mention you’ve been previously and found some great restaurants. You would be glad to pass this information along. Putting two and two together, they realize it’s in their benefit to know who you are and how to reach you.
- I had a good time … I may be giving you a call. Once again, you recapped why you had a good time talking with them. This shows you were listening. Not everyone does. In this example, you met at an event where member names are published in a directory. It might be the chamber, the country club or your alumni association. You already have each other’s contact information at your fingertips! It’s sort of an assumptive close. You are alerting them you will probably be calling.
- Looking forward to seeing you at the next event. The gathering where you just met is recurring. It might be a monthly meeting of the alumni club or a museum’s exhibition opening reception for members. You assume they are a regular attendee. This lays the groundwork for getting in touch before next month’s event and making sure it’s on their calendar. Maybe you suggest drinks or dinner afterward.
In each of these examples, you weren’t pushy. You showed the benefits of keeping in touch and getting to know you better. You provided them with the opportunity to opt out.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” can be found on Amazon.