No Pit Is An Island: 8 Secrets Of LinkedIn Success

Multiracial Group of People with Raised Arms looking at Sunset


My LinkedIn profile photo—my “pit pic”—was a (brief) sensation.

The article, “Dear LinkedIn: Is My Armpit Bad For Business?” achieved success because of my armpit. Yet, no pit is an island. Though it’s impossible to deny its allure, my armpit did not carry the article without help. I knew there had to be other defining factors that contributed to my post’s popularity, but I wasn’t clear what they were. I set out to discover the secrets of LinkedIn success.

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A year ago, while I was in the early stages of self-publishing my first book—Miss Matched at Midlife—my editor suggested I devise a plan to sell it. The time had come, she said, for me to build an author’s platform (fan base) on social media. I shut my eyes and groaned.

“I’m a ‘people person!’ I’m not a ‘computer person!’”

My online marketing skills were nil. Social media marketing sounded dreadful.

I pushed through my reluctance and subscribed to LinkedIn: a free, business-networking site that was a breeze for technology-challenged me. Then, I searched Google for blogging advice. I stumbled across a jewel: Expect to fail for a very long time. I was off to a dubious start.

I soon discovered that social media was not dreadful. It was fun! I never felt like a failure. Every baby step—a new connection, one more published post, ranking in the top 10 percent for profile views—brought me closer to success. I marveled at the volume of views, “likes,” and comments reeled in by the LI big dogs: professional blogger John White, author Dr. Travis Bradberry, and university student, Isvari Mohan.

Three weeks ago, I published a post: “Dear LinkedIn: Is My Armpit Bad For Business?” In seven days it attracted over five hundred views. Why had this particular article piqued reader interest when my previous posts had flopped? I sought answers. I logged on to the LinkedIn forum, “Step Into the Spotlight,” and posted my question:

What is the “secret formula” of a well-received LinkedIn post?

Responses trickled in. Group member Kat McKay isolated three factors that attract readers to LinkedIn posts: 1) Engaging title 2) Business spin 3) Lively content. Kat’s tips for blogging success made sense, but was something missing? I wasn’t sure. Meanwhile, my post’s popularity waned. I was grateful for my fifteen minutes of fame.

Buuut then . . .

Writer, Jim Murray, and customer relations’ guru, Paul Croubalian, read my article. Paul said it made him laugh. He promised to share it. Out of the blue, I was graced with a second wave of LinkedIn success. Top LinkedIn influencers Michael Webster and Joe Caruso—The Wonderful Wizard Of LinkedIn—featured my article on Franchise-Info’s company page. According to Michael, my post got 753 impressions (views) in less than twenty-four hours. The exposure my article received from optimal sources—LinkedIn’s heavy lifters—jump-started its sputtering popularity.

My formula for LinkedIn success was taking shape, but still incomplete. I dove back in. I read “A Fish Story” by Michael Webster, “100 Blogs on LinkedIn: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The TRUTH,” by John White, and “Why Authentic Leaders Are Rare,” by career coach Jan Johnston Osburn.

Ms. Osburn claims: People crave authenticity. Mr. White wrote: Readers love a little vulnerability from the author. Michael’s post gifted me a Zen-like gem: So, when a lot of people do finally pay attention to a specific article, make sure you are giving them something in return. (Words to live by, wise grasshopper.)

At the time I published my pit post, I was unaware there were specific factors that determined LinkedIn success—I simply got lucky. But you don’t need to rely on luck, nor is it necessary you fail for a very long time. Here are eight “secrets” that will transform your LinkedIn experience from dull to dazzling.


                                                                              8 Secrets Of LinkedIn Success


 * Hook ‘em at hello. Your article’s title will grab your readers’ attention—or not. If you need help composing a title, Google “Free Headline Analyzer From CoSchedule.” The analyzer makes it easy and fun to create a title that’s juuust right. The best part? Never again will your amazing posts be saddled with mediocre headlines.

* Give it a business spin. LinkedIn is a business-networking site. Try to make your article’s topic appeal to other business-minded members. Btw, if your “business” is posting photos of scantily clad women on social media, go elsewhere. LinkedIn already has its fill.

* Write lively. Break free from boring! Business articles shouldn’t be dull, yet many are. Try opening your post with an anecdote that ties into your topic. Words are like colorful Skittles—eye candy. Whether your article is serious, lighthearted, or informational, make your writing yummy.

* Expose your tender underbelly. I exposed my tender armpit, and people loved it! You should never play the victim, but it’s beneficial to show a little vulnerability. When you lay bare your imperfections, you tap into a trait we all share: our humanness.

* Be true. Your readers crave authenticity. If you publish an article that criticizes fracking but you ignore a discarded Cheetos bag on the sidewalk, you’re a fake. Don’t be a fake! If you’re an environmentalist who regularly bypasses sidewalk trash, fess up! Your readers don’t expect you to be perfect but they do expect you to be “real.” So next time, pick up the damn Cheetos bag!

* Position for success. I’m a “people person” on social media. I add connections, join LinkedIn groups, and invite my connections to join. I read other’s posts; I “Like,” and comment. I strive to improve my writing skills. I publish my best work. I publish consistently. I thank my connections when they share my work. I share theirs too. I don’t quit (even when I’m dying to). I’m nice to the Wizard.

* No pit is an island. Nobody can do it alone. The success of my pit post was dependent on LinkedIn influencers who positioned it in front of a larger audience. However, I realize they wouldn’t have boosted my article’s visibility if it hadn’t first appealed to you, dear reader. To you, I’m much obliged.

* Give ‘em bang for their buck. Publish content that gives your readers a valuable take away. Engage them! Have fun! Your audience will support you with shouts for an encore. If you make your readers happy, you’ll be a success. And that’s no secret.

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What are your thoughts? Do you have a secret tip for LinkedIn success?

I welcome your “likes,” comments, and shares.

~ Rebecca “Armpit” Brockway

Dear LinkedIn: Is My Armpit Bad For Business?





I’ve been posting my essays on LinkedIn for a year. The site’s subscribers (you!) have been enthusiastic and supportive, my interactions – productive. I’ve acquired many wonderful contacts and a handful of friends. My profile photo hasn’t seemed to hamper me, but perhaps I’ve been naïve.


Seventeen months ago, I hired a photographer to take my picture. Time was of the essence; I was approaching my fifty-seventh birthday. I wasn’t getting any younger . . .


I contacted a professional who’d posted her add on Craigslist. I reviewed Melanie’s website and liked what I saw; her work was perceptive and direct. I thought that Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone (a popular pocket of shops, avant-garde artist studios, and bistros located a few blocks from the beach) would make a great backdrop for a photo shoot. Melanie drove from LA and we met at The Lark restaurant. I was relieved I’d hired a woman to snap my pics. I knew I’d feel uncomfortable posing for a male photographer. With Melanie behind the camera, I’d no fear that my crow’s-feet and wrinkled knees would be silently ridiculed. I trusted Melanie to capture me: an attractive and imperfect middle-aged woman. She took a lot of photos. Twenty made the final cut. I utilized one photo for the cover of my soon-to-be-released book. Another became my LinkedIn profile pic.


Seven weeks ago, a LinkedIn connection messaged me about my profile photo. She wrote that she didn’t think it represented me well. She believed I was prettier than my picture. She also believed that I would receive more on-site success with a new photo. Then, she suggested different photo ops I might try: a comedic wink with sunglasses positioned halfway down my nose, a traditionally professional look, or me waiting in a meadow for Mr. Right to ride up. (On a tractor? On a white steed?) Her motive, she insisted, was to offer friendly advice from one woman to another. She said she was a fan of my LinkedIn posts.


I replied: Thank you for your kind and candid email! I had no idea that I’d be on the brink of fame if it weren’t for the fact that my profile photo is holding me back! But, since I do not have another pic to replace it, I’m afraid it will stick around – and continue to hold me back – until I have another taken. I certainly do appreciate that you follow my posts, and more so, that you send me such great girlfriend advice. You are swell!


She responded that she hadn’t known how to broach the subject more sensitively. She admitted that she should’ve asked a friend to review the email before sending it. Then, she apologized for trying to help and confessed that she’d made a poor job of it.


I emailed to assure her that everything was cool, and her apology, unnecessary.


Our exchange had been puzzling – slightly odd – but no big deal. I forgot all about it.


Until five days ago . . .


Apparently, my “LinkedIn adviser” remained vexed at my nonchalant attitude, or maybe she was sincerely worried that my profile photo jeopardized my business (or the timely arrival of Mr. Right). Therefore, she called in the reserves; she appointed her friend to message me: If you send the original I’ll touch out the line at your armpit . . . it’s a giveaway for things you might want to be left unseen.


Ah ha! It was my armpit they were after!


Did one lil’ ole armpit deserve this much attention?


I responded: Thank you for your generous offer to Photoshop my armpit. (That was a first!) I understand that my armpit doesn’t look like the pit of a thirty-year-old woman – I’m fifty-eight. My book – “Miss Matched at Midlife: Dating Episodes of a Middle-Aged Woman” is about a middle-aged gal (me!) who goes on over 150 first dates; therefore, I need to look the part 😉 I’ll let you know when my book is launched in June. Thanks again for your concern :-)


That wasn’t the last of it.


She replied: Let me know if you’d like it diminished or offed 😉


I wrote: You ladies have supplied me with a fabulous topic; many thanks to both of you! I have decided to write a LinkedIn post asking my contacts (over 3,000) to weigh in with their opinions on my “unsightly” armpit. Whatever the majority says wins out. I may be looking you up to Photoshop my pit, after all. Don’t worry, I won’t mention either your name or “Jane’s” in my post 😉 Look for my new post on LinkedIn at the first of next week.


Soon afterward, she forwarded my original profile photo with a “modified” armpit that rivals the perfection of my four-year-old granddaughter’s. She included this statement: Remember, it’s not ‘unsightly’ . . . it’s distracting from the main focus of the image. Your eyes.


I truly believe these two ladies are well intentioned. Yet, the question remains:


Is my armpit bad for business?


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I await your candid comment, dear reader.


Thank you!  ~ Rebecca Brockway