This week I’m sharing the inspiring story and top advice on networking from Jen Shultz, a certified professional coach who specializes in working with “Non-Nine-to-Fivers”. In true to form networking and making meaningful connections, Jen was referred to me by Ali Blotter, who was featured in Week 18: From Networking Hater to Networking Embracer.  

After working at a competitive charter school in New York City for several years, Jen was desperate for a change. She wanted to honor her creative tendencies and experience personal freedom in a new way. Without a plan or a backup job, Jen gave her 2 weeks notice.

Within a month, she was working 1:1 with students privately. One student turned into two, which is when her dad asked her “why don’t you start a tutoring business?” She sat in a Starbucks in Manhattan everyday with her laptop and emailed teachers and parents to let them know she was building a private tutoring practice.

After three years in this business, Jen wanted to follow another passion, which was helping adults with their personal growth and development. She attended coaching school (we are both graduates of iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) with the intent to start her own coaching practice.

There was one major problem. Jen didn’t have any idea how to start and run a sustainable coaching business, and none of the advice and resources available for starting an entrepreneurial venture resonated with her. She found that everyone was trying to solve business problems with one more marketing tactic or one more special offer. What she wanted to do was connect to the WHOLE person.

Enter her coaching speciality. She mentors and coaches “Non-Nine-to-Fivers” how to stay with the business building process using exceptionally deep, rich, and “non-traditional” concepts and teachings, that lead Non-Nine-to-Fivers to sustainable and successful business growth.

I asked Jen to share with me tips and success stories from working with “Non-Nine-to-Fivers” as it relates to making connections and networking.

  1. Be connected to your work: When you believe in what you are doing, others can tell.  
  2. Be curious about other people: Enjoy the process of meeting people. Get curious. Ask questions. Really. Go all in here. People will sense when you TRULY desire to get to know then, and share authentically.
  3. Intentionally create relationships: Building a business doesn’t happen when you hand out your business cards like a Vegas dealer. When meeting someone, assess whether there is a connection, and if there is, determine how you can help one another so you have next steps in place.  
  4. Listen to your intuition when it comes to forming relationships: When meeting new people, ask yourself “is there a connection?” Be honest. You will naturally gravitate to people who resonate with your message and your purpose. Don’t ignore your gut reaction when it comes to meeting new people. If it feels good, then your gut should be telling you “Yes, stay with this.”  If it doesn’t, then don’t feel obligated to continue on with someone if they do not resonate with you.
  5. Reframe “Fake it until you make it.”: Jen has an ambivalent relationship with this phrase. She wants us to think about it as, “Continue to say to yourself ‘this is who I am and what I am here to do until you believe it.”

When I asked Jen to share how her work helps her clients form meaningful connections, she recalled the following experience. She was teaching one of her clients how to network and had him create a schedule for meeting new people and attending networking events, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was doing the work and checking the boxes, but he was unwilling to authentically share about himself and his work. (You know how I feel about this from the content in Week 35: When we don’t share, we suffer.) This kept him at bay from making true connections.

Jen was able to assess and understand his fears and concerns about networking since it was his very first time putting himself out there. She dug down deep with him in order for him to feel comfortable sharing his purpose. Once he started opening up, he began creating relationships and developing clients. He had to be willing to stand in the work he was doing in order to resonate with others.

How simple, yet complex is this advice? That’s the challenge with meaningful connections. It boils down to the following, which Jen teaches in her Non-Nine-to-Five Steps to Success System:

Intentionally and Authentically Create Relationships.

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your story and advice. To get more support from Jen go to and enter your name and email to receive your FREE copy of The Non-Nine-to-Fivers Quick Start Guide to Starting a Business. Find out more about Jen at, on LinkedIn or Facebook.

52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections is offered by Small Town Leadership. If you would like to see how much progress you can make toward making our big world feel like a smaller place, SIGN UP to receive these articles on a weekly basis.

YES – I want to make our big world feel like a smaller place. Deliver the weekly content directly to my inbox!



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.

Leave a Reply