LinkedIn provides a great free service that helps you build a professional network among its 530 million users. However, as you may know, the platform regularly prompts you to upgrade to its premium offering on a regular basis. Should you upgrade to a paid LinkedIn account? In addition, LinkedIn has reduced some of the features available on the free LinkedIn accounts so what was once awesome is now only good. There are a few reasons that you should consider paying for a premium LinkedIn package and a few reasons you should not consider paying for LinkedIn.
Let’s take a look at the LinkedIn Premium packages: the associated costs, the associated benefits and whether or not it’s money well spent. We will also take a look at the steps you must first take before upgrading to a paid account.
LinkedIn Premium packages have 4 different price tiers:
- Premium Career: $29.99/month
- Premium Business: $59.99/month
- Sales Navigator Pro/Team: $79.99/$119.99/month
- Recruiter Lite: $119.95/month
Each tier offers a discount of 20% if paid annually. Each tier offers different features and each is appealing to different types of LinkedIn users. In addition, users can get a free 30-day trial, which will give you a general idea of whether it is an investment you would like to make. Keep in mind the benefits of LinkedIn need a long term horizon so a 30-day trial will allow you to familiarize yourself with the added tools on the platform but you are unlikely to see results. Recruiter Lite is a very special LinkedIn upgrade for the purposes of only recruiters. We mention it for information purposes only but we will not delve into this product as it has a limited audience.
Premium Career Features
- 5 InMail messages per month
- See the number of searches you have appeared in and the users who have viewed your profile in the last 90 days
- Provides additional information on posted jobs
- Provides additional salary information
- Allows for access to on-demand learning videos
- Allows you to use Apply with LinkedIn button, which moves you to the top of the list
- You get a LinkedIn Premium badge which shows that you are serious about making connections on LinkedIn
The first two features are certainly of the most benefit to job seekers. Being able to message other users without being connected or being in the same group is a valuable benefit of your profile and very helpful to making connections. Also getting access to metrics about views should inform you about improving your profile. You can see quickly whether tweaks to your profile results in more profile views.
However, it has its limitations. If you quickly run a lot searches, LinkedIn will stop showing you results and prompt you to upgrade to Premium Business. Also, 5 InMail credits/month is not sufficient to make many connections and you will have to purchase more.
Premium Business Features
- 10 InMail messages per month
- Premium Business gives you additional information businesses and unlimited people searches
- Provides additional information on companies
The increased number of InMails per month is handy but still borderline insufficient for much outreach. The real bonus of this package is the unlimited people searches.
Sales Navigator Pro/Team Features
- 20 to 30 InMail messages
- 1,500 to 5,000 saved leads
- The availability of advanced search filters
- The ability to make notes on user profiles
- Social selling index score
- Segmentation, suggestions, email integration, projects, and other features
This package is suited for sales and marketing people. This social selling tool makes it easy to find relevant prospects for your business. People who are actively involved in social selling report 45% more opportunities created, 51% more likely to achieve quota and 80% more productivity. You get these results by using the in-depth user details and advanced search and filtering options. You can view and save companies suggested by Sales Navigator. Saving companies in your account allows you to track new leads, follow updates and receive company news so you’re well informed before your first conversation with a prospect.
Recruiter Lite Features
- Recruiter Lite gives you guided search smart suggestions, projects, and other recruiting-focused features
This package is only suited for recruiting professionals
When Not to Upgrade Your LinkedIn
Now that we have reviewed the benefits of each premium LinkedIn package, let's look at reasons why you should not upgrade to a paid LinkedIn account. First and foremost, never upgrade to a paid account if you have not yet fully filled out and optimized your profile. If you haven’t made the most out of what you have been given for free, an upgrade isn’t going to help you. Make sure you have completed the following four things before upgrading:
1. Complete Your Profile
We have written about the best ways to create your LinkedIn profile. The LinkedIn Profile Strength meter gauges how robust your profile is. The strength of your profile will increase as you add more relevant content to it. Don’t bother to upgrade your account until LinkedIn thinks you have done enough to create a strong profile.
2. Create Your Personalized URL
LinkedIn allows all users the option of creating a custom URL. URLs are available on a first come, first served basis. Your custom URL can have 5 to 30 letters or numbers. Don't use spaces, symbols, or special characters. All of the fancy URLs (like LinkedInExpert) are taken so we recommend creating a URL with your first name and last name (and maybe an initial or your city) so that you will appear more easily in search engine results. This is a really effective way to increase your visibility on LinkedIn, and it’s completely free.
3. Start Making Connections
Upgrading your account will allow you to view your 3rd-level connections rather than just 1st or 2nd level connections. However, this isn’t helpful if you haven’t maxed out your (good) connections at the lower levels. LinkedIn provides several tools to help you expand your professional network. Take advantage of them.
4. Join Groups
The absolute best thing you can do on LinkedIn is to join groups. You can join up to 100. Make sure you join industry groups and local groups. Your main goal should be to expand your professional network and groups will help you do this. Being a member of a group allows you to contact other members without first being connected. After becoming a group member, get actively involved in the discussions to develop relationships with professionals outside of your network.
So in summary, a paid LinkedIn membership might be worth your while but not immediately. The first thing you should do is complete the 4 steps mentioned above. Once those steps are completed, you will have enough familiarity with the LinkedIn platform that you can take full advantage of a 30-free trial. After your 30-day free trial then you can make an informed decision about paying for LinkedIn.