We are in the final countdown to the conclusion of 52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections. And I have a confession to make. I gave up on networking.

A few years ago, I was experiencing what I call the “meh” period in my career. I was performing fine, my teammates and manager were satisfied, but something wasn’t quite right. Like any good fixer-upper, I wanted to get to the bottom of my “meh” and do something about it.

The first thing I did was seek out advice of people with more experience than me. Without fail, I was usually asked two questions. First, what did I want to do next and second, how could they help? For those of you who have been in “meh” yourself, you know that you don’t really know what you want to do next, hence the “meh”. My response to the question of “what do you want to do next” was usually to mirror the person in front of me and tell them what I thought they wanted to hear. This would inevitably lead them to say, you should meet with Mr. or Ms. X.

Like a good soldier, I’d set up time with Mr. and Ms. X and proceed to have a very similar conversation. I enjoyed meeting nice people who only wanted to help, but there was never a connection. Looking back, I guess my hope was that one of these networking partners would see my brilliance, dedication and passion and hire me on the spot.

After weeks, then months of this dance, I gave up on networking. Clearly no one was recognizing my capability and snatching me up for the next great assignment. So I quit.

And it was the best decision I made at that point in my career.

Instead of sitting in executives offices telling them what I thought they wanted to hear, I hired a coach. She sparked things in me that no one had been able to dig up. She made me feel OK that I didn’t know what job I wanted next and helped me realize that as long as I was doing the next right thing for my own growth and development, I was exactly where I needed to be.

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that hiring the coach led to the creation of Small Town Leadership, which led to me becoming a coach to people who are feeling “meh” themselves, which led to the entire 52 Weeks of Meaningful Connections series.

Everyone wants to know the secret. They want the magic bullet. (You know I don’t believe there is such a thing from this post.) I have the closest thing to the secret as I have ever shared on this blog.

YOU are the secret.

YOU have to be comfortable with who YOU are RIGHT NOW.

YOU have to be brave to say that the thing you want to do next is start your own company, stay at home with your kids, go back to school, make your way toward the corner office, and on and on.

If you have no honest response to “what do you want to do next?”, that’s OK. It’s not your time to do the next thing. What you CAN do is self-exploration or work with a coach to help you figure out the general roadmap to get you out of “meh”-land and into “it’s going to be OK”-land.  

Once you are out of “meh”, networking doesn’t feel like networking. Meeting new people feels like connecting because YOU show up. You AND your dreams, your passions, your goals, your interests. That’s a whole lot more intriguing to people than telling them what you think they want to hear. And that’s the spark that might get you the gig, the interview, or at least a deeper connection than you had before.

On a scale of 1-10, how much in “meh” are you? How much are YOU showing up? How closely do you think the two are related for you?

I love talking to people who are in “meh”. You are there for a reason. It doesn’t feel good now, but your patience is being tested for some greater purpose. If you’d like to chat about your “meh”-ness, reach out to me at natalie@smalltownleadership.com. Perhaps a quick conversation will be the spark you need to pull yourself out of “meh”. Perhaps it’s the start of a longer journey you are destined to be on. As someone who’s went from “meh” to “pinch me, is this really happening?”, it’s worth starting now for YOU!

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.

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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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