Three years ago, my team and I partnered with Julie Winkle Giulioni to launch her first book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go. Since that time, I’ve continued to admire the way Julie shows up online. I asked Julie to take some time to talk about what has worked well for her in building online influence in hopes that her learning will be of help to our readers. She has experienced tremendous results and benefits from her online influence, starting with continued book sales over time. I always love talking with Julie and I’m sure her insights here will inspire you. Thanks, Julile!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about growing online influence?

Start way earlier than when you think you need to. I didn’t get what it was going to take to ramp up. Everything takes longer than you think it is going to. You really have to give it time, especially if you want your online presence to be authentic. The time factor is huge.

What activities do you see that are most valuable for you?

The value of regular blogging is very important. Also, the way one blog can be used in so many ways to create nodes of connectivity. It still stuns me how it works to slice up one blog post in a systematic, disciplined approach to online sharing.

Connecting to other bloggers has also been very valuable, being able to use the book launch as a springboard to other relationships that have extended into more real life.

What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning to grow influence online?

As you look at opportunities, consider yes to be the default. Find ways to say yes… even if it’s scary. I was struck by how whenever I say yes to something, it spawns so many other things. I said yes to writing a paid blog, which led to conferences, which led to a webinar, which led to some lucrative business in my own region. It’s easy to shy away from things, thinking you’re not ready or it won’t be perfect. Say yes and figure it out.

Do what it takes to get past the self-conscious phase of worrying what people will think of you. In the beginning, I felt uneasy wondering if people would judge me for what I blogged or tweeted. In the beginning, I had to remember that no one was reading it any way. It was my mantra.

Get creative and find new ways to spin a topic to effectively repurpose the work you’ve done. For example, I’ve repurposed blog posts to short audio segments on Audvisor. You have to leverage the work in a variety of ways so you have bandwidth to keep going.

And, take a day off from your social media activities every week. There is always more to do so preserve your sanity and ensure that your efforts will be sustainable.

What opportunities have you gained that you would not have had without being online?

Conferences, webinars, clients, and book sales. Sustained effort in my online presence has maintained a respectable sales rank over three years.

What relationships have you been able to cultivate that you would not have without being online?

I met other bloggers with whom I have developed real friendships, mentoring relationship, including Jennifer Miller.

Additionally, I’ve been able to work with incredible organizations as a result of my online presence and my work with you.

What challenges have you experienced in growing your online presence?

Feeling self-conscious.

Trying to balance brand building and coherent message and staying engaged and interested. If something strikes me in the moment, I want to be able to write based on inspiration but I need to balance that with staying in my content area. Staying consistent in my activity has been difficult – as new opportunities come up, I struggle to find the time to keep my regular social media posting going.

Mining my previous content for ideas to take in a different directions has been helpful.

What surprises have you experienced in growing your online presence?

A major surprise has been the authentic, genuine relationships I’ve been able to form, virtually. I have friends, people I genuinely care about and look forward to connecting with.

What started out as a book marketing tool has turned into something that has provided tremendous personal enjoyment/fulfillment as well.

What one factor do you see as most critical to your burgeoning success as a thought leader?

Having the good sense to recognize the value of partnering with a team like the team at Weaving Influence.

Tell me something! Which of Julie’s advice is most helpful to you? What else would you add about the benefits of building online influence?