How a Mindset Change Helped An Introvert Meaningfully Connect w/ Janelle Reichman



Janelle Reichman, an Engage Connector



Sweetwaters Plymouth Green

WHY JANELLE? We interviewed Janelle because her name consistently comes up as someone who people trust to connect them to resources in Ann Arbor. She is a trusted Connector for the Engage Connector Program and her feedback in the early days of Engage was critical for how we make sure Engage Over Coffee is introvert-friendly despite being a “networking” event.

And she’s truly a multi-faceted individual who has a thriving web design company focused on aligning your brand with you, and is an exceptional, professional clarinetist and saxophonist.

I realized I was going to be alone in my apartment the entire time if I didn’t figure out how to get out there.
— Janelle

Janelle shared her epiphany during her 10-year experience in New York and how she decided she couldn’t allow her introversion keep her from getting out and connecting with others.

As Janelle put it, it comes down to something a lot of us hate - introverts and extroverts alike:

“I hate getting out there to sell to people.”

And she isn’t just talking about selling her business (she designs websites for a living). She’s talking about selling herself as an interesting person. It feels forced, and, as Natalie described, it’s inauthentic.

When we first started this Lost Art of Conversation video project, I knew that the topics we’d discuss would be interconnected. But it’s been so inspiring to hear the lens through which different people see the world and how they breakdown ways to approach solutions to what is hard.

Natalie described the path to being authentic as: “be interested, not interesting.” And Janelle shared how she acts on it.

“I try to focus on making connections for others, learning something new, and giving something of value to the people I meet.”

Tip from the Founder

Bring a not yet your friend to Engage Over Coffee

As Janelle mentions in her video, a fear that some introverts have about going out to an event is that they won’t know any one.

If this is something you struggle with, I invite you to look around you and think about someone who you think is cool but also may be lonely sometimes.

Invite them to join you. Just that invitation could make their day.

JANELLE’s approach for making networking more comfortable

When having a conversation with someone, frame the conversation in your own mind as an opportunity to be helpful. Ask yourself:

  • “How can I help this person with the exciting thing they’re working on?”

  • “What’s something new I can learn from this intelligent, interesting person?”

  • “How can I give something of value to this person?”

As an ambivert myself, some of my most favorite, trusted people are introverts. And I loved hearing Janelle remind us that introverts don’t hate interaction with people nor do they want to be left alone.

They just really don’t want small talk. Well neither do I.

It’s all about the deep connections in a trusted environment.

And I’m so grateful for the Janelle’s (regardless of their “version”) who put themselves out there and come to “Engage” in a meaningful way.

It’s a muscle. It only gets easier the more you walk up and say ‘hi.’
— Janelle


For your next conversation with someone new, try to find out what they are working on. Ask yourself: “What’s something new I can learn from this intelligent, interesting person?”


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