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View from a Newbie

November 19, 2014

“How can I connect with other women like me?” had been a top-of-mind question for a while. Having tipped into my upper 60s, I knew I was ready to wind down my corporate consulting practice and do something else on a part-time basis. Full retirement is not yet part of the picture: My husband is younger than I and will probably work for another eight to 10 years.

Wondering what being “semi-retired” would be like, I wanted to learn from the experiences of other women who already had made—or were making—that transition. Having moved three times in the last 15 years, I also was looking for the opportunity to build new friendships with other women my age. The business groups I’ve belonged to have been more focused on building up than scaling back. I wanted to find a group that was oriented more toward living fully as women, rather than as business people. Google led me to TTN, so I decided to check it out.
 
Perhaps we met at my first Mix & Mingle, at Roberta Taylor’s house in June? I hope so. I liked what I saw so much that I joined that night. Joining an organization can be a bit of a mixed bag—especially an organization that’s not only new to us, but new itself! I recently chatted with six other new-ish members and we all agreed that TTNers are impressive: bright, accomplished, energized, open, and friendly. We newbies agreed that the small- group discussions at the Mix & Mingles may be the best part of those evenings. Exploring a topic with just six to eight other woman is an opportunity to get to know each other a bit more.
 
Many of us also shared having felt intimidated walking into a room full of people we didn’t know. Will I know anyone?  Will anybody talk to me? Will I know what to say? Will I enjoy this?
 
When these thoughts crept into my consciousness, I made myself remember: I know how to do this! Years ago, the book How to Work a Room changed my life.  Author Susan RoAne suggests setting a connection goal for the evening: How many new people would you like to meet? Begin by introducing yourself to someone who is standing alone. One-on-one is easier, and she’ll appreciate the company. Feeling more comfortable? Then step up to groups, literally. To avoid possibly interrupting a private conversation, look for three or more people. Stand at the edge of the circle, listening and making eye contact with those around you. You’ll find the circle magically widens to include you. 
 
The other thing I’ve learned about joining TTN is that we each need to take the initiative to find our own way. As a new, growing chapter, our infrastructure still is evolving. And those of us who’ve sought out Peer Groups or Special Interest Groups—or who have volunteered to play a role in shaping the Boston chapter, as I have—are being richly rewarded.
 
So bring a friend to the next meeting. We’ll widen the circle and she’ll thank you for it.
 
Elaine Crowley, M. Ed, is almost semi-retired.  The newest member of the TTN Boston Steering Committee, responsible for programs, she coaches Boomers getting ready for their second act.