LinkedIn Premium: Is It Worth the Money?

As a loyal and vocal fan of LinkedIn, many people have asked me over the years if LinkedIn Premium, the paid version of LinkedIn, is worth their money. Without ever having upgraded to Premium myself, I told people that unless they were in HR or sales, the free version of LinkedIn provides all the tools necessary to get what they need. I don’t really like dishing out advice on something I’ve never experienced, though, so when a free 30-day trial of LinkedIn Premium popped up on my screen last week, I immediately took the bait and upgraded my account.

At first glance, the features of LinkedIn Premium are not knocking my socks off, but let’s dive in and see what it’s all about.

 

 

 

 

 

InMail

LinkedIn InMail allows you, as a Premium user, to send a message to any LinkedIn member, regardless of how distant a connection level you are from that person. This feature is extremely useful to an HR professional or recruiter whose job it is to gather qualified job candidates for their companies or for the companies they represent. It’s not obtrusive, to me, to get a LinkedIn message from a recruiter, but I don’t want unsolicited messages from salespeople. For a salesperson, InMail is a useful tool, yet I’d still caution salespeople to avoid over-using it. Be very selective about sending messages to people who aren’t expecting them. It’s ideal if the person is familiar with you or your company so that your message doesn’t look like spam. Writing a professional, friendly, and concise LinkedIn message, whether on the free or Premium version, should be the priority.

There really is no good reason for a professional who is not in HR, recruiting, or sales to use LinkedIn InMail. The free version lets you message your first-level connections and those who are connected to your direct connections.

Grade: C

 

More Search Results

With LinkedIn Premium, you’re promised more results from your people searches, which doesn’t seem to be overly valuable to me since the free version already gives you plenty of results. I’ve never been disappointed by a lack of results when I’ve searched for people, but then again, it’s not a feature I use to the degree that a salesperson might.

The greater upside to performing people searches as a Premium user is that your view of others’ profiles is not limited. On the free version, you may not see the individual’s full profile. Their recommendations, groups, and job or education details are often hidden if you are not connected, or if they’ve chosen to hide some of those details to non-connections. I can see this feature being quite useful, again, to HR and sales people who want to have a full perspective of prospects before they reach out to them with a job opportunity or sales message. For those who are not in these roles, seeing a user’s complete profile still has some value in that it can help them decide if there’s really a benefit to connecting with that user.

Grade: B

 

Profile Organizer

Profile Organizer attempts to lend some organization to what can be a very disorganized LinkedIn. As a free version user, your contacts are lumped into one list, and if you have more than 100 or so contacts, you might be yearning for some CRM-like features to enhance what you know about them and what’s important to your ongoing relationship with them. Profile Organizer gives you options to add notes to profiles that you’ve stored, keep histories of correspondences, and save other relevant details just like you do in your CRM. You can use labels to keep profiles in “folders” that you can sort by projects, opportunities, companies, etc.

It’s not at all a bad idea to sign up for the Premium level of LinkedIn just for this feature, if you truly need the features of Profile Organizer to add some intelligence to your profiles and contacts.

Grade: A

 

Who’s Viewed Your Profile; Premium Badge; OpenLink

“Who’s Viewed Your Profile”: This has always been a fun feature of the free version of LinkedIn, and seeing it on Premium is even more interesting since you get a little more insight into who has checked you out. On Premium, you can see the viewers’ titles, regions, and companies, while on the free version those details are often hidden. You can also see the keywords people used to search in LinkedIn when they landed on your profile.

Premium badge: This is nothing more than a little icon next to your name that tells people you are a Premium user. That doesn’t hold a lot of value to me.

OpenLink: This feature allows any member of LinkedIn to send you messages for free, even if they’re outside of your network. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth because I love the LinkedIn that is based on real relationships and connections. I don’t love the idea of LinkedIn being akin to giving everyone who wants it access to my address. As you can tell, I’m not sold on this feature, but I have added my name to the OpenLink network anyway, so we’ll see how much spam and unsolicited messages I receive over the next month.

Grade for these lesser features: C

 

So, the value of LinkedIn Premium is highly dependent on the job function or specialized purpose you have. If you are in a human resources or recruiting role that requires you to efficiently gather and qualify job candidates, Premium is for you. If you are a sales person, especially a B2B one, who needs to keep your prospect funnel filled and establish connections with decision-makers who may be three or more connection levels beyond you, LinkedIn Premium is for you. If you are a job seeker, I don’t see enough reasons to spend $40 per month for the Premium features that really don’t give you anything better than what you already have on the free LinkedIn.

Are you already satisfied by using the free version of LinkedIn to keep and grow a strong professional network of past, current, and future contacts, participate in Groups, and stay current by updating your status and using Answers? Then I recommend you stay right where you are. LinkedIn Premium won’t make your life easier, happier, or more profitable.

Have you used LinkedIn Premium? Which features do you appreciate the most, or the least?

 

 

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