You probably keep hearing about the “overnight” successes that some companies have found online. Like any story where’s there a free lunch, it turns out the truth is often much different than what you hear.

In reality, gaining a strong online presence takes a fair amount of patience and only the smallest bit of luck here and there. Like any growing plant, it starts with planting a seed. These seeds could be following the right people on social media platforms, and then regularly (and GENUINELY) commenting on their posts. Just because the interaction is faceless doesn’t mean people can’t still sniff an imposter whose comments are general and “spammy” in nature. Another seed could be a regular Facebook campaign with a smart, targeted audience to build brand awareness. Combine this form of advertising with a Facebook pixel, and you are much more likely to be transmitting your message to the very people who have already expressed an interest by visiting your site.

Yet another seed could be joining a LinkedIn group made up of people most likely to engage with your product or service. Checking in with the group periodically and posting information or re-sharing relevant articles demonstrates your knowledge of the subject and lets everyone know you are the person to come to for further insights.

Some “larger” seeds could involve holding free webinars, or hosting your own Facebook or LinkedIn groups. Again, any opportunity to present yourself as a subject matter expert will lead to more people taking notice. But like anything you might plant in the field, these seeds will become tiny plants that will grow and require nourishment, watering, and some pruning from time to time. Only with your guidance and support can it flourish into something that isn’t just a group of your friends, but rather with a reach that truly touches the clients you wish to serve.

Tradeshows and networking events are not to be neglected. That face-to-face interaction is invaluable, and serves to cement any online ties you’ve already made. I still get tickled pink when I meet someone in person who I’ve already been following online! This seed can be difficult to sow for those of us who are introverted, but some groups offer activities or interactive workshops in addition to basic socializing, and this can be a great way to insert yourself into a crowd without feeling like you are just standing awkwardly, waiting to strike up a conversation with a random stranger.

All of these techniques doesn’t necessarily have a measureable ROI, and are really just basic touchpoints in a possible future relationship. The marketing mantra that says you need 9 touchpoints with a potential lead before it can convert still holds true, but thanks to social media, some of those touchpoints are fairly easy to achieve both in terms of time and expense. If you are still the type of person that wants to track these interactions, consider investing in some kind of marketing software to help you along.

Happy planting!