How to Overcome Introversion to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Job hunting after 50 is tough enough without having to deal with introversion issues. If you happen to be too shy or have trouble meeting new people, you may want to try immersion therapy — join a networking group.

Available groups vary depending on where you live, but you usually have several to choose from, including Business Networking International, MasterMind Groups, LeTip, Women in Business Networking, your local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, local merchant associations, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimists.

Peer groups are a great way to fight the shyness barrier that stands in the way of making new contacts and friends. It’s a safe, friendly environment, and the events tend to be fairly intimate.

When you’re ready to mingle, here are five networking tips for those of you who are on the quiet side:

  • Show up early. If you hear of a local event that sounds intriguing, push yourself to make room in your schedule. Get there early. The best time to schmooze is before things get rolling.

  • Build relationships. Networking isn’t about finding someone to help you get a job today. It’s a process of developing contacts gradually over time through people who connect with and trust each other.

  • Be curious. Networking is not work. It’s about being interested in what other people are doing and being open to learning from them. Ask questions and try to get people to talk about themselves. Spend twice as much time listening as you do talking.

  • Set goals. Before heading to a new event, tell yourself that you’ll try to meet three or four new people and get their contact information. Afterward, jot down a note on the back of their business cards reminding yourself where you met and what you discussed.

  • Follow up. The day after the networking session, send a note to your new connections, telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them and proposing a future date to get together informally. Email works fine, but, hey, if you’ve got a personal notecard, send it! These days, people rarely receive mail other than bills, junk, and magazines, so your recipient will likely be delighted to get your card and, perhaps even more likely, to become a devoted member of your personal network.