Curt Mercadante Addresses CFA Institute Annual Conference on Influence and Branding

The following originally posted on the CFA Institute Web site:

“Great influencers don’t push. Great influencers attract people – first to themselves and then to their ideas.”

— Bob Burg

Everyone has a brand, whether you know it or not, or even whether you like it or not. That’s according to author and branding expert Curt Mercadante, who defines your brand as how you’re influenced and how you influence others. At the 73rd CFA Institute Annual Virtual Conference, he shared some simple and effective ways to build and harness your personal brand.

We are all in sales, Mercadante said, regardless of our job titles. People invest in and buy from other people they know, like, and trust – whether they’re considering a product, service, or idea. Branding begins with being true to who you are, and your personal brand should be a mechanism for other people to get to know, like, and trust you. It should convey your unique personal narrative, connecting the dots between your audience’s specific needs and the impact, expertise, and value that you can provide.

In the current environment, people are hungry for solutions to navigate their new reality. It’s an opportunity to build an authoritative brand and differentiate yourself. This means getting attention from the right people, paired with trust, and Mercadante offered some practical tips for doing so.

First, think about LinkedIn. Mercadante described it as part resume, part website, part brochure, and part search engine. You should optimize your LinkedIn profile and use their platform to consistently communicate your expertise, who you serve, and the impact you can provide. Mercadante had four recommendations:

  1. Consider using a professional headshot for your cover photo, which should ideally show you doing whatever it is that you do best.

  2. Your headline is an opportunity for you to communicate what you do and who you serve — don’t just list your job title. Crafting a good headline statement can help the right people find you.

  3. The “About” section is for more than a bio or resume. It’s an opportunity to connect the dots for your audience, conveying a narrative about who you serve, why you serve them, and the impact you can offer.

  4. Use LinkedIn to highlight your expertise and authority. You can do this by consistently posting articles and commenting on posts where you have expertise, offering insight in a truthful and fact-based manner.

Consistently posting authoritative content helps you build trust and establish your brand, but it requires fodder. Mercadante recommended three ways to create this type of content:

  • Appearing on podcasts. Find podcasts in your niche and craft a very basic “one sheet” that includes your bio and highlights your expertise. Use it to approach hosts and ask to be a guest on their podcast — as of Mercadante’s session, Apple iTunes lists 240+ podcasts on investing. You can also engage agencies to make these pitches on your behalf.

  • Creating your own podcast. Control your message and build your own group of subscribers and listeners. First, identify your audience and determine your frequency of publication (Mercadante recommends weekly). Then, create a title and format, deciding whether you want to do solo episodes, interviews, or a combination of the two. You can either use a tool such as to do the production work, or hire it out.

  • Repurposing content. Communicate your expertise and authority across multiple venues. You can author long-form articles for blogs, LinkedIn, and pitches to others. This work can also be farmed out to ghostwriters. If you have your own podcast, or have appeared as someone’s guest, you can generate transcripts using a service like, repurposing this content into article form.

If you struggle with topics to talk or write about, Curt recommends thinking about the questions your clients are raising right now and what you would say in response. Remember that it’s not about selling; it’s really about being human and having a conversation to discuss how you can meet their needs, or even just help ease their fears or anxieties.

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