At the start of every client engagement, even before we sign a contract, we work with clients to identify their big picture goals and priorities. What does success look like? What can we accomplish together that will make our engagement a worthwhile investment?  One of the things I say, probably more than anything else, is that growing online influence is a result of focused, consistent effort. To make a difference, you have to bring value, consistently over time. For a long time.

I felt encouraged recently while listening to Brené Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong. In talking about her vision for her career, she mentions in a side note that “the experience has been more than I imagined sixteen years ago when my husband, Steve asked me. ‘What’s the vision for your career?’ and I answered ‘I want to start a global conversation about vulnerability and shame.'” (italics, mine)

Did you get that? Sixteen years.

Brené is widely admired and read. She’s a best-selling author. She’s a sought-after speaker and world-changing difference-maker. But she’s no overnight sensation. In the years before she became well known, she built the foundation needed to create and sustain a global conversation through consistent work in creating and sharing her valuable content in the world.

There aren’t any short-cuts to influence, resonance, and reach. To truly make a difference, you have to be willing to do the work, over time, for a long time.

It’s possible that when Brené shared her career vision with her husband that she realized how audacious it sounded. When I ask clients about their goals, I often hear a similar refrain: I want to start a movement. I want to reach the world with this message. I want to change the way people think about x,y,z. I want to change the world.

I’ve had the privilege to watch several clients/friends grow their influence over time, going from mostly-unknown to hugely influential. David Burkus, a friend I met back in 2009 when I talked with him as one of the early guests on his podcast, recently showed up on the homepage of TED, amassing over 500,000 views of his talk about salary transparency. Do the quick math on that; David’s been at this for 7 or more years. He’s sold tens of thousands of copies of his first two books and is under contract, writing his third. He’s been blogging, tweeting, and podcasting about messages that matter to him for nearly a decade. His success at age 30 is impressive, but he’s not finished. I can only imagine the continued influence he’ll have at the sixteen-year mark and beyond.

Another influential client is Bob Tiede, a career staff member at Cru. We’ve been partnering with him to grow his influence through his work at Through the release of a free ebook in English and Spanish, he’s seen his email list grow by 400% or more. His following on Twitter and Facebook continues to grow incrementally, month over month. The people in Bob’s network are consistently finding value in the content he creates. As they share his work with their networks, Bob’s influence swells.

If your vision for your future involves starting a global movement or igniting a world-wide conversation, my best advice is to take a long-term view. Show up today, with the influence you have already, and share content of value while connecting with others. Do it again tomorrow, the day after that, and every day into the foreseeable future. This is the only path I know to creating the influence you most long for.

Tell me something! What value are you sharing today that will move you toward your desired future?