You might already be using LinkedIn to network, find new employees and even score yourself a new job. The site has offered a paid Premium account option with expanded profile-viewing and email capabilities for the last few years. With it, you can even do more thorough searches of the network, sorting users by company size, interests, seniority within the company and whether or not they work for a Fortune 1000 company. But should you really be shelling out $24.95 or more per month for the extra features? We run through the benefits.Pick an account type
First, you’ll need to pick an account type if you’re ready to go Premium; each of the three options is available at three levels. For all premium accounts, you can see who is searching for you and you get priority customer service. If you choose to upgrade to an annual contract, the monthly fee will be slightly lower than if you pay from month to month. If you’re using the site to find a new job, you’ll want to choose one of the three Job Seeker account options, all of which let recruiters message you for free and offer exclusive access to the LinkedIn job seeker community.
For those who use LinkedIn to recruit new employees, the site offers three Premium Talent account levels. A mix of personal and recruiter plans are covered by Business plans. With Talent and Business plans, you get to reference search candidates. Here’s how the rest of the features break down across the available plans.InMail
While unpaid LinkedIn members must request an introduction to members in their extended network (i.e., a second- or third degree connection versus a first-degree connection), Premium members can email any LinkedIn user directly. Best of all, with InMail, your profile is attached to your outgoing message, making it more likely that the receiver will check you out. Plus, the social network guarantees your note won’t end up in a spam box.
Business Plus members receive 25 InMail credits for each month. LinkedIn guarantees that users will receive a response to their InMail. Since the service can’t really force a user to reply to you, the site will return your mail credit if you never get a response.
Why It’s Useful: Business owners will have unfettered access to potential clients and partners, while job-seekers can reach out to employees at a company to help make their resume stand out. InMail also offers media professionals expanded access to sources who may not be within their network. LinkedIn says you’re 30 times more likely to get a response to an InMail than to a cold call email.Profile Organizer
Whether you’re just browsing for potential networking connections or scouring LinkedIn for your next hire, the Premium account’s expanded profile-viewing features will come in handy. You can save profiles of interest into different folders and add notes and contact info. You’ll also be able to view your correspondence history with each contact.
Why It’s Useful: When you’re dealing with numerous clients, co-workers and industry associates on LinkedIn, chances are you won’t remember every person in your network. The profile organizer can serve as a quick refresher if you use notes to indicate how you met a contact.See who’s viewed your profile
Unpaid LinkedIn users can only see a small number of people who have viewed their profile, but Premium members can see everyone. In addition to displaying the user names of whoever has stopped by your page, the site gives you data about how people found you, including what search terms they used. You also get an overview of how your profile views change over time.
Why It’s Useful: Aside from being just plain intriguing, the ability to see who’s viewed your page is useful for building your brand identity. If you know who has you on their radar, you can sculpt your profile and work your connections to get more of that attention or start attracting a different type of user, depending on your professional goals.Premium Badge
It’s just as much about bragging rights as professional credibility, but the Premium badge—a gold circle with the word “in”—that shows up at the top of your LinkedIn profile distinguishes you from nonpaying users.
If you’re not one for showing off your status but still want to upgrade to Premium, you can toggle the badge off under Account & Settings > Name and Location.
Why It’s Useful: According to LinkedIn, Premium users who display the “in” badge get 15 times more profile views than users who don’t.OpenLink
LinkedIn’s OpenLink is an opt-in service for Premium members that lets anyone on the site contact you for free. Unlike InMail, which lets you reach out to anyone, OpenLink opens the doors for all users to reach out to you.
Why It’s Useful: LinkedIn says that members who use OpenLink get about seven times more messages per month, so the service can certainly help you grasp more business opportunities. Additionally, you can save InMail credits by using OpenLink to email contacts who have the feature enabled.Bottom Line
Is it worth shelling out for LinkedIn Premium? If you’re a professional looking to expand your network of contacts and land a new job, Premium can make that easier by letting you send messages to contacts who aren’t already in your network. For business owners looking for new employees and partners, the paid service also provides expanded access to the most relevant profiles. Sales professionals will find the Profile Organizer useful for organizing leads into different folders. You’ll have to evaluate how you’re already using the site and what more you’d like to get out of the service.