I’m training for a marathon.

As a result, I’ve added new activities to my calendar, both mentally and in writing. Each weekend, I need to fit in a long run. I typically run outdoors with my friend Laura on Saturdays. This Saturday, we braved snow cover roads to gut out 6 sloppy miles.

During the week, I need to fit in several more training runs. My plan is to run on the treadmill as soon as I return from taking my girls to school (typically 7:30 am.) Adding these commitments to my calendar increases the likelihood that I will follow through on my plans.

Focused, consistent effort makes a difference. If I run consistently, I will prepare effectively.

If you have goals for the new year of to grow your business, market a book, or increase your visibility online, you must apply the same principles I’m applying to my marathon training. Focused, consistent effort is critical.

Here are five tips to help you create and implement a plan for growing your influence this year by treating your online activities like fitness training.

  1. Identify your big picture goal. What do you want to accomplish this year? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? Take some time to clearly identify what you hope to achieve, then write it down.
  2. Find your why. A friend told me recently that she cannot understand my desire to run a marathon. That’s okay — she’s not the one who has to train. Decide why your goals are important to you and use that why to compel you to action. Your why is YOUR motivation and inspiration. Make sure your why is motivating enough to you help you overcome resistance. Then, write it down.
  3. Craft a plan. Once you’ve identified your goal and found your why, you need to identify the steps and tasks needed to achieve your goal. Write those down, as well. Add individual tasks to your calendar and make a commitment to completing those tasks in the same way that you would keep a meeting with a client or business partner. Block off the time on your calendar.
  4. Make sure you have the right equipment/tools. I started my training year with my new running shoes from Topo Athletic (I am sporting the ST for my treadmill runs) and a Garmin Forerunner (follow me on Garmin Connect?). Without the proper shoes, I might experience injury. If you plan to grow your influence in 2014, you may need to invest in technology (I couldn’t tweet without BufferApp) or training. If any of the e-book resources I’ve written would help you, you can download them for free at 12minutemedia.com by using the coupon code 600FREE.
  5. Gather a support crew. My husband is also training for a marathon, so I have his encouragement (and nagging) to complete my training. My training partner, Laura, helps me keep my commitment to weekend long runs. If you want to grow your online influence in 2014, you’ll be more effective if you have other friends, both in person and online, to encourage you. Who do you know who would understand your why and provide accountability to you as you seek to achieve your big picture goals? I’m excited to announce a new group coaching opportunity for online influence building. If you’re interested in learning more, send me an email and I’ll share details.

When Laura and I run across snow covered streets, I tell her we’re hard core. To me, being hard core is doing what’s needed, day after day, to get where I want to be. In order to fulfill my dream of running a marathon, I know I will need to be hard core in my training. Growing online influence takes similar dedication and consistency. I encourage you to view your online influence building activities in a new way, executing your plans like you’re training for a race.

Tell me something! How do you treat online influence building like fitness training? What big picture goals do you have this year? What motivates you?

P.S. Starting soon, I’ll be sharing LinkedIn Tips to help you grow your influence in 2014.