You have credentials. As a financial advisor, you need to be licensed in your state. There are plenty of other financial advisors competing in your market. As you socialize with wealthy people, how do you establish your position as a subject matter expert, while some might consider you simply a salesperson?

1. Position your credentials. Do you hold the designation Certified Financial Planner? (CFP) According to the CFP Board, there are 100,538 individuals holding that designation. According to Time magazine, there are 283,000 financial advisors in the U.S. You hold a credential setting you apart from about two thirds of your peers. Are you allowed to include this on your business card? Do you have a framed certificate in your office? What other professional certifications do you hold?

2. Work your credentials into conversation. As a financial professional, you should never stop learning. This means taking continuing education (CE) courses and adding specialized professional designations. I met an advisor in California who would be out of the office attending classes from time to time. When returning calls, he would not grumble about “we all had to attend a meeting.” He would tell clients “he was studying for an additional professional certification.” That gets conversations started.

3. The importance of longevity. Years ago, it was said if you wanted to change jobs in Silicon Valley, pull into a different company parking lot on the way into work. Many older people sense there is a lack of commitment between employees and employers. They feel the person is working there until something better comes along. That is not what people look for in a long-term relationship with their financial advisor! Talk about the number of years you have worked at your firm. Display your seniority awards in your office.

4. Sell the firm. No one person has all the answers. Prospects know that. People who work with a large firm feel the firm brings resources to the table they would have difficulty finding on their own. Your firm has many divisions. You have the ability to help clients in several ways. This can increase “share of wallet” in the long-term relationship. Your client might have one need in a narrow area. Learn about their big picture. I met an advisor who used the expression, “I can bring the resources of the firm into your living room.” What are those resources? How do they align with the client’s needs? Why is this a benefit?

5. Sell the team. Many of the earlier points highlight benefits possessed by experienced advisors. Longevity and credentials are examples. What if you are new to the business? If you are new, you are likely on a team. Sell the team. What credentials do members hold? What is the combined level of years of experience in the industry?

6. Position your background. Many financial advisors entered the business as a second career. Years ago, this might have been because firms wanted people with sales experience. Many others transitioned from the military into the business. Why did firms hire veterans? One reason was they were excellent at working within a structured environment. Your previous profession might be your current business niche. Highlight how you understand the needs of these professionals.

7. Be passionate. It is important to love what you do. Have you always been interested in investing? Have you always wanted to help others make progress towards their financial goals? Is this firm the one that topped your list of ideal employers? If the answer to these questions is yes, get that message across. You love what you do and are committed for the long term.

8. Be true to your word. HNW individuals are approached for business all the time. They have problems requiring solutions. They understand diversification can extend to providers. They know what you do for a living. They have ways of “taking people off the list.” When you commit to doing something in your personal life, follow through. They will assume your attention to detail extends into your professional life.

9. Remember details. No one wants to be considered a number. Everyone feels their situation is unique. As you socialize within the HNW community, remember details about people you met previously. These might be tallied on your CRM system, since your new connections are potential prospects. When you remember details, they see you as a person treating them as an individual, not a face in the crowd.

10. Come across as successful. Social prospecting is remarkably similar to dating. Desperate people don’t get dates. If you try too hard, signals warn the other person, “There is something wrong here. They are too intense.” In HNW circles, the opposite of desperate is successful. People know what you do. Word gets around. If you are not pushing for business, people assume you are successful. Successful people want to do business with other successful people.

11. See and be seen. You have heard the expression, “You have got to be in it to win it.” People are not going to associate a name with a face if they never see your face. You need to be out and about, attending the same social events as the people you want as clients. Say hello to people you met previously. In addition to attending events, this means shopping in the right stores and patronizing the right restaurants.

12. Win awards. How many magazines have a list of “Best in State” financial advisors? There are a lot. Local newspapers also have readers’ choice awards. How do you get nominated? Become a finalist? Encourage people to vote? You might want to talk with a local PR firm. Your firm might have some strategies based on the experience of other advisors.

13. Become a sponsor. The spring and fall are the gala seasons for nonprofits. There are dress up events like galas, BBQs, garden parties, fireworks and fun runs. These are supported by local sponsorship. What are your opportunities on a cost-effective basis? What benefits can you offer to clients and prospects at the event?

14. Listen for problems, mention solutions. A property developer once remarked: “Everybody needs help with something.” Listen when you join in group conversations. You will start to identify needs. Privately approach the person at a later time. You might mention the problem, followed by: “I have helped other people in similar situations. I might be able to help you too.” Stop talking.

There are many ways to establish your credibility in local HNW circles.   

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book Captivating the Wealthy Investor is available on Amazon.