LinkedIn, known by many as “the professional social network,” is a powerful tool for lead generation. And though the free membership plan allows you to engage in basic networking activities, many business owners and marketers wonder the same question at some point: Is LinkedIn Premium worth it?
Though not necessary for the casual user, those using LinkedIn for business need more than just the free features. If you want to see significant results from your lead gen efforts, you need to invest in LinkedIn Premium. Your new leads will more than make up for the Premium fees – so long as you use LinkedIn strategically.
But with multiple paid membership levels, you need to pick one that’s best suited to your needs. Below, we outline LinkedIn’s free membership and each of the 4 Premium levels, highlighting the benefits of each.
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LinkedIn Membership Levels
People typically group LinkedIn membership levels into 2 types: free and Premium.
Everyone starts out with a free account upon signing up, which allows you to customize your profile, post updates and articles, message your 1st-degree connections, and apply for job postings. This is a great option for when you’re first setting up your account, or if you haven’t started using LinkedIn for business yet.
It’s only once you’ve exhausted all of the free features that you should begin considering investing in LinkedIn Premium. For example, if you’ve been using LinkedIn for lead generation and have started getting a few leads, investing in Premium Business or Sales Navigator will allow you to take advantage of their Advanced Search and find even more targeted prospects.
NOTE: If you’ve been using LinkedIn for a while, you might have noticed that LinkedIn has downgraded its Advanced Search. This feature is now only available to Premium members.
A free LinkedIn account is sufficient if you’re simply using the social network to stay in touch with your current connections and complete simple searches. Beyond that, you’ll want to invest in one of the 4 LinkedIn Premium membership levels in order to see real results.
The 4 Premium membership levels include:
LinkedIn often invites new members on the free plan to upgrade to a Premium account (often with a free trial), but the question is — is LinkedIn Premium worth it?
When You Should Consider Upgrading to a LinkedIn Premium Account
If you’re not a heavy LinkedIn user, then you probably shouldn’t upgrade your account to a Premium plan just yet.
Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn: 101 Ways to Rock Your Personal Brand, advises users to keep using the free account until they max out all of the features available to them. She then shares a few reasons you might want to upgrade to a Premium account:
- To utilize the Advanced Search feature
- To see more than the last 5 people who viewed your profile
- To create more than 3 saved searches
- To send more than 3 InMail messages a month
If you do choose to upgrade, don’t automatically choose one of the lower priced plans just to save money. Each plan comes with different features suited for different needs, so you might not see significant results from a cheaper LinkedIn membership level that isn’t a good fit for you and your business.
At the same time, don’t immediately go for the higher priced plans if you won’t be able to maximize all the features. For example, though Sales Navigator offers more advanced lead generation features than Business Premium, the latter is sufficient if you aren’t ready to dedicate significant time and resources to lead generation yet.
Before upgrading, it’s important that you optimize your account and have a strategy in mind for how you’ll use your new LinkedIn Premium features.
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LinkedIn Premium Features (By Membership Level)
1. Premium Career
Best Suited For: Job seekers
What You Get:
- See everyone who’s viewed your profile over the last 90 days (not just the last 5 people).
- Display your profile at the top of the recruiter’s applicant lists.
- See how your profile compares to other job seekers.
- View salary insights when browsing jobs. (This is a brand new feature that came about after LinkedIn Salary was introduced in 2016. LinkedIn Salary gives jobseekers an idea of salaries, bonuses, and equity data for specific job titles and the factors that affect them.)
- Send up to 3 InMail messages per month.
- Gain access to LinkedIn Learning video courses, which you can use to beef up your LinkedIn profile (and job skills!).
2. Premium Business
Best Suited For: Marketers and entrepreneurs
What You Get: All the same LinkedIn Premium benefits available with the Premium Career plan, but with 15 InMail messages to send instead of just 3. Plus some additional features, including:
- More detailed company data, such as employee distribution, growth by function, and even notable alumni.
- Unlimited searches in your extended network (up to the 3rd-degree).
Starting with this Premium plan, you’ll have access to LinkedIn’s Advanced Search. Advanced Search allows you to add multiple qualifiers when searching for people, companies, groups, and more, which allows you to find the most qualified leads in your niche.
The unlimited searches and the advanced filters make Premium Business perfect for beginning your lead generation efforts. Though it’s not as advanced as Sales Navigator, it’s a great plan for marketers and entrepreneurs looking to start using LinkedIn for lead generation.
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3. Sales Navigator
Best Suited For: Marketers, salespeople, and entrepreneurs
What You Get: The same features available to Premium Business, but with 20 InMail messages instead of 15.
Additional features with Sales Navigator include:
- Lead Recommendations: Suggested leads and suggested accounts features based on leads you’ve recently saved.
- Lead Lists: Keep track of the professionals you’re communicating with so that you’re never missing an opportunity to connect.
- Real-Time Insights On Existing Accounts and Leads: Discover if individuals have changed jobs, if a startup has received new funding, and much more – perfect for starting a conversation with a dream lead!
Sales Navigator Team is also available for teams, which allows you to integrate your lead gen efforts with a CRM, save 3,500 more leads, and more!
4. Recruiter Lite
Best Suited For: Recruiters or companies seeking to hire a lot of employees
What You Get: Recruiter Lite is the base tier of LinkedIn Talent Solutions, which is a set of enterprise talent solutions. With this being the most expensive plan of the bunch, you get all the features available to Sales Navigator and below, but with 30 InMail messages instead of 20.
Additional features include:
- 25 LinkedIn out-of-network unlocks per month – find people outside of your immediate network.
- Automatic candidate tracking.
- Integrated hiring.
- A recruiting-specific design.
Final Thoughts: Is LinkedIn Premium Worth It?
Is LinkedIn Premium worth it? Depending on your usage and needs, the answer is often yes. Start with a free trial to see if a particular membership level is right for you, and be sure to take advantage of all the LinkedIn premium features to make it worthwhile.
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