Week 20: From online confession to coaching over coffee

In this month of discussing online connections, I have a great story to show how we can go from online to offline – with a bit of courage and curiosity.  

A couple of months ago when I was reviewing my website traffic stats, I noticed a referral link from the AltMBA program. Curious, I clicked on the link. Inside of this post was one of the most courageous, honest and open essays by a woman named Mary who was in a moment of self-reflection and exploration. I got pulled into the essay and was wondering, “How did this link to my website?”

As I read closer, I found a section where Mary pondered whether she should be a coach, or at least seek out a coach. She said she had participated in a session led by a local coach and had been closely following her website and social media. (She may have used the word stalking.) After re-reading a few times, I realized that she was talking about me, and was linking to my website.

As a curious problem solver, I wanted to figure out who this person was and how we had crossed paths. I found the sign-in sheet for a speaking engagement I had done earlier that year and found Mary’s name on the list. Without hesitating, I sent her a quick email to say I found her essay and invited her to coffee.

She responded within 24 hours, with hints of both relief and embarrassment. Here she was, pouring out her soul onto an online forum she thought would only be read by her classmates, only to be discovered by the very person she was “stalking”.

We met up for breakfast a month later and it was refreshing to connect the vulnerable essay writer to a strong and smart businesswoman who simply needed a place to share and person to support her in this phase of her career.

Mary and I ended up moving forward with a coaching engagement and during this process and I learned as much about myself as I did about her.

I could have chosen to not follow the breadcrumbs that were created in this experience. Like most things in the digital world, I could have let the moment pass. But instead of scrolling on by, I choose to step in to see where the path might lead.  

Who are you secretly following on social media?

What would you do if you had the opportunity to connect with her in person?

What’s stopping you from making a digital connection a meaningful connection?

Not sure who to reach out to first on your digital dream team? Make sure you check out the Network Mapping Exercise I described in a previous article. There is a free download available HERE.

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Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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