I'm not an ESI, but when I was single one of my plausibly deniable flirting techniques was to ask for advice or help. I had a very similar interaction to the one you describe with my now-husband a few months before we started dating. My car brakes needed replacing and I made a FB post asking for advice from anyone who cared to answer. Of course, the kind of person who would answer and be actually helpful is the kind of person I wanted to interact with more, and I figured it could be a great opportunity to build up some relational strength/ties. My now-husband answered with not only advice but an offer to help me do it if I could bring my car out to where he lived. It turned out those particular brakes were the more complicated kind, and I ended up determining that it would be more practical and efficient to just take it into my regular mechanic, especially since he lived 45 minutes away and I would have been cold the whole time. I wasn't that motivated. So I never actually utilized the offered help.
Fortunately he still invited me to group things he organized and included me on a few email list kinds of things and appeared at mutual friend gatherings, so I had more opportunities to explore his potential and create connection.
So, anyway, different dynamic than your particular types, but I thought the similarity in situation was kinda interesting.