Over the past several years, I’ve had the honor of getting to know a lot of influential people in the B2B sales & marketing world. When I get the chance, I ask them how they got there.

Half of them are humble enough to claim they’re not that important, but they’ll still give a few life lessons and recommendations for those who want to increase their industry influence, visibility and leadership.

Here are ten of the recommendations I hear most often.

1. There are no shortcuts
It doesn’t happen overnight. Most of the people we consider the biggest industry influencers have been toiling at what they’re doing for years. And they do the work, every single day, to get and keep what they have. I remember watching a video of Chris Brogan, a highly-respected and very well-known social media thought leader, debunking the idea that he’s an overnight success. He smartly chose to record the video as he left his house (and his family) at 3:45 am to catch a flight to another speaking gig. It doesn’t come cheap, it doesn’t come easy, and it doesn’t come fast.

2. Give other people credit
Defer, always. Countless people helped you get there, then to the next level, then to where you are. Constantly point out and recognize the people around you.

3. Thank people often
If you’re thanking people more often than feels natural, you’re probably getting closer to enough.

4. Comment, retweet and otherwise participate
Make it a point, every day, to give others feedback. Tell them what you think. Share your opinion. Motivate and encourage others. Show them you’re watching, noticing.

5. Start conversations
Few people remember who answered a question on Quora or LinkedIn. If you’re the 24th of 46 answers, few people are reading you. But if you started the conversation, if you asked the question to begin with, everybody is reading what you wrote.

6. Be present
Attend the conferences. Grind through the networking events. Show up when you’re committed (at an event, a conference call, a coffee).

7. Create consistently good content
Easier said than done, of course. But take the time necessary to brainstorm, outline and create content that reflects how you feel, what you care about, and what your audience needs.

8. Publish regular content
Quality and quantity are important. Post most often on your own site and blog, but find other thought leaders and offer them guest posts and content on occasion as well.

9. Treat everyone like a top prospect or partner
Nobody is “too small” to send a response. Today’s nobody will be tomorrow’s CMO.

10. Volunteer and expect nothing in return
Don’t ask what’s in it for you. Focus on what’s in it for them. You’ll get your share, maybe not every time, but plenty enough.