I was recently quoted in an article that was published on three of the largest financial websites in the world — Bankrate.com, Yahoo!Finance and Fidelity.com. The article was about annuities and the benefits they offer. To say I am an annuity expert would be a stretch. I use them, I understand them and I can explain them — but an expert? Surely, there are others more experienced and better versed, so why weren’t they interviewed? It’s simple; they didn’t have an expert image.

Gaining the knowledge to be called an expert may take years. In the insurance and financial services industry this couldn’t be truer. We spend time reading trade publications, participating in continuing education and sales training, even pursuing professional designations, but that isn’t enough. We also need to create an expert image that conveys our experience, knowledge and training to our clients and prospects. Luckily, there are three easy steps that can be taken to build, demonstrate and reinforce an expert image.

1. Build a portfolio of expert content. The idea is to become an expert resource — this is different than being an expert yourself. Basically, you want to be a broker of valuable financial information. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sharing via social media, blogging, or meetings with and newsletters to your clients. What matters is that you share valuable financial information with as many people as possible. When it comes to sharing, use the 90/10 rule related to the content shared. What’s the 90/10 rule? In short, 90% of shared content should be from sources already seen as experts — trade publications, popular websites and blogs, etc. The remaining 10% should come directly from you. This will allow you to begin building your image by association with sources already seen as experts.

2. Leverage popular media to grow your image. What’s better — me telling my clients I’m an expert or letting Yahoo!Finance tell them for me? Obviously the latter, but how do you make it happen? Simple, go where writers go to find expert sources. Remember that article I was interviewed for? The author used a free service to find subject matter experts and allowed us to pitch why she should interview us. The free service used, HARO (HelpAReporter.com), sends three emails per day, Monday through Friday, to registered users. Each email contains 30 to 90 requests for subject matter experts on various topics. All you need to do is peruse the requests and respond to any that are in areas you’re comfortable discussing with a writer.

3. Use press releases to expand your image. Press releases may be one of the most underrated and overlooked tools in your efforts to grow your image. They shouldn’t be. In fact, they should be used with near suicidal abandon. I send them out for everything, and you should too. On a local NAIFA or Rotary board? Send a press release. Reached your 200th client? Press release. Made MDRT’s Top of the Table? Press release. Having a client appreciation event? Press release. I think you get the idea. Press releases should go out every time you do something that seems important. There are tons of free services (I use PitchEngine.com, BigNews.biz and PRlog.org) that will send out your press releases, but it is a good idea to take a few minutes to track down the specific points of contact at your local newspaper and TV stations as well.

With a few, well spent minutes a day, you can easily enhance your image, grow your reputation and ultimately receive the moniker of expert. Don’t believe me? Follow these three easy steps for just 30 days and watch how quickly it happens.

Ryan Pinney, CSFP, is a three-time MDRT Top of the Table qualifier. His company, Pinney Insurance Center, is a national brokerage general agency that provides sales concepts, underwriting support and proprietary tools to assist agents and financial advisors. Pinney is also on the advisory board to www.wholesaleinsurance.net, one of the nation’s largest direct to consumer life insurance websites. He can be reached at (800) 823-4852 or by email at rpinney@pinneyinsurance.com.

To read last week’s Words from the Wise, click here.

For more tips on image building, see:

Step by Step Marketing: 5 Steps for Building Your Brand

Influence prospects using social media

What a Facebook Fan Page Can Do for You