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Marietta Gentles Crawford: How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business

Ditch the need to fit into a perfect box. The biggest struggle people have is trying to “find” themselves or feeling like they’re not good enough — both in their business and personal lives. This can get challenging because we’re not one-dimensional beings. There are so many different elements to our personalities. Some of them […]

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Ditch the need to fit into a perfect box. The biggest struggle people have is trying to “find” themselves or feeling like they’re not good enough — both in their business and personal lives. This can get challenging because we’re not one-dimensional beings. There are so many different elements to our personalities. Some of them don’t always fit neatly into a box or title. How freeing would it be to embrace being quirky, imperfect, multi-passionate humans? Imagine how great it would feel to not even have a need to fit into a box and just show up as we are.


As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marietta Gentles Crawford.

Marietta Gentles Crawford is a writer, personal brand strategist, and LinkedIn expert for entrepreneurs, coaches, and consultants who want to leverage LinkedIn for business. She believes in a human-to-human approach to building a profitable brand on LinkedIn.

Through her coaching and online course, The LinkedIn Level-Up, Marietta has helped clients and students elevate their brands, get featured on popular websites and podcasts, and grow their businesses. Marietta has been seen in Business Insider, Forbes, Money, Thrive Global, Fast Company, among other websites.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was working in corporate America, I felt like I never really belonged. My confidence was a gift and a curse. It helped me land various roles within Fortune 500 companies when I needed to leave toxic work environments or make more money. But then I’d feel like I had to blend in or bite my tongue to advance my career. It was always an internal struggle.

As an outlet, I started writing resumes on the side in 2011 (because, frankly, I was so good at it for myself, I wanted to write for others who needed my help). Over time, my resume writing side-business evolved. It became clearer that the key ingredient for success was building a strong personal brand — and being able to communicate your unique strengths.

As my business grew, I stopped writing resumes and started focusing on LinkedIn as a brand-building platform. I also transitioned to working with business owners since this was now my new world and I saw the need for my knowledge. After juggling multiple roles for seven years, I left my full-time job in 2018, while three months pregnant, so I could fully transition into the role of an entrepreneur.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Yes! I interviewed my favorite TV journalist, Brooke Baldwin. We both turned 40 the same year and she was doing an Instagram series leading up to her birthday. Every day she would try something she’s never done before and share it with her followers. Inspired by Brooke’s experiment, I sent her a message to see if she’d be interested in sharing her story. To my surprise, and delight, she replied and said “yes”!

We coordinated a time to speak through a couple of exchanges. And our phone conversation turned into an article I wrote for Thrive Global (it was featured in the Wisdom section of the website). Brooke was so generous with her time and advice. It was an honor to share a milestone birthday with her and be able to write about the experience.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Early in my career, I was interested in a highly-competitive journalism program the local newspaper Newsday offered. I desperately wanted to be selected because it was an amazing career opportunity. At the time, I was finishing up my B.A. in English with a focus on journalism, so it would’ve been great experience to add to my portfolio.

The first time I applied for the program, I got up to the first round but was not accepted. Then I tried again the following year. The second time around, I was determined to be one of the chosen applicants. I frequently called the program director’s assistant to check on the status of my application. And I even showed up at a career fair where I knew the program director would be to personally introduce myself and express my interest in the program. It seemed like a good idea to get my name in front of him. But my overzealousness led to the director wearing a suit telling me to “take a chill pill”. I was mortified then but can laugh about it now. I may have come across as a tad bit aggressive!

In the end, I got up to the final round of applicants for the program, but didn’t get selected (the committee wasn’t comfortable with the fact that it would’ve delayed me getting my college degree).The experience taught me the importance of being more patient (and polished!) when pursuing opportunities. I also learned to trust the path that I’m on — even when things don’t seem to go my way. The path I subsequently followed led me to exactly where I needed to be.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Okay, so it may sound biased, but my answer is LinkedIn. It’s been my main social media platform for connecting with my target audience, and it’s helped me build and grow my business. I’ve been active on the platform since 2012. At first, I used it solely as an online resume but then realized it was so much more than a resume as new features rolled it. It became a dynamic brand-building platform. I started publishing on the platform regularly, sharing content, and focusing on my expertise in personal branding. This led to connecting with talented people all over the world and attracting new clients, media opportunities, and speaking engagements.

One of my favorite examples of how LinkedIn increased my revenue is when I landed a $5K speaking gig with a $5B global tech company just by being found on LinkedIn. It was a couple of months after I left my full-time job and right before I delivered my son (in fact, I closed out the contract while I was still in the hospital). The leadership and development manager was looking to coordinate a company event and found my LinkedIn profile while searching for a personal branding expert. I credit my optimized profile, social proof, and personality-driven presence for validating my experience and attracting this opportunity. This is only one of the times my ideal clients found me on LinkedIn. But I love sharing this story because it shows that you don’t always need to seek out high-caliber opportunities. They’ll also come to you if you’re prepared, personable, and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be clear about your objectives: It’s important to regularly assess who you are, who you help, and what you do. These are important elements of your personal brand that should drive your LinkedIn profile and activity (e.g., content you write, share, or comment on). The more intentional you are about how you show up, the easier it will be for others to know, like, and trust you. It’s up to you to make sure your message is aligned with your business objectives so you can get results.
  2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile (and make it magnetic!): While things like having a professional photo and using the right keywords are important, don’t stop there! You should also approach writing your “About” section as it was a piece of marketing material: It should be clear and compelling. Make sure it talks to your ideal clients’ concerns and shows why you’re the go-to expert that can solve their problems. Also, it’s important to include a call-to-action so your target audience knows exactly what to do after checking out your profile. A strategic, magnetic profile is one of the best ways to highlight your business and stand out from others in your industry.
  3. Become a storyteller: One of the things I encourage when it comes to personal branding on LinkedIn, or any social media platform honestly, is to show up like a “human.” This means being who you really are without feeling like you have to be perfect or someone else. Telling stories is the most human thing you can do because it’s a natural way to teach and share information. Studies even show that the brain connects more to stories (so keep this in mind when writing content!). Use stories to share your message and connect with the people you want to reach.
  4. Add social proof: Potential clients are always checking you out. And there are plenty of experts on LinkedIn that do exactly what you do. So, it’s important to show why you’re different and the results you produce. Get your clients and colleagues to write recommendations and endorse your skills. Share samples of your work, case studies, or any media features that validate your experience directly on your profile (don’t make people have to look for it). This is something that’s missing from a lot of profiles but can make you instantly be a key differentiator from others. Don’t say you’re an expert, show it.
  5. Focus on quality over quantity: There’s a lot of emphasis on building a large network. But here’s the thing: A small, targeted, engaged network can be more profitable than a large network filled with people who “like” your posts but will never work with you. Focus on attracting like-minded people who are active on the platform. This helps increase your engagement and the quality of content in your newsfeed. It’ll also bring you closer to your ideal clients. All it takes is the right person to see your post, comment, and profile and be compelled to hire you.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Ditch the need to fit into a perfect box. The biggest struggle people have is trying to “find” themselves or feeling like they’re not good enough — both in their business and personal lives. This can get challenging because we’re not one-dimensional beings. There are so many different elements to our personalities. Some of them don’t always fit neatly into a box or title. How freeing would it be to embrace being quirky, imperfect, multi-passionate humans? Imagine how great it would feel to not even have a need to fit into a box and just show up as we are.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Ava DuVernay! She’s such an extraordinary writer and film producer. I absolutely adore her work and confidence. I’d love to have brunch with her and soak up her advice and exchange stories. I’d want to learn more about her journey and how she manages her creativity. Plus, I’d like to think that since she’s cool with Oprah, she may invite her as a surprise guest. 🙂

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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