If the LCD never gets past the ‘Connecting to the Network’ message, it means the Ethernet controller fails to initialize. This has nothing to do with a valid Ethernet connection or not: if the Ethernet controller is initialized correctly, it should eventually get past that screen and display the current time (even though the time may be wrong).
There are several reasons that could cause this, for example, the pins of the Ethernet controller were not soldered reliably, the Ethernet controller is not plugged in properly, or a pin might be accidentally shorted to ground or something. Also check if the 25MHz crystal is soldered to the correct position (make sure you did not solder it to the position of X1). Does the orange LED ever blink?