One of the advantages of using social networking sites is that basic accounts are free.
Instead of charging users for the privilege of using their website, social media sites sell advertising that leverages users' information to create highly targeted ad placements. It's a win-win all around: The site attracts users, the users receive a service, and advertisers get cost-effective, targeted marketing.
But LinkedIn also gives its users the opportunity to purchase premium accounts. Unlike other basic vs. premium accounts, LinkedIn's basic (free) account option gives users plenty of functionality and connection horsepower. Without spending a dime, you can forge business connections, create a company profile, and build your brand reputation with LinkedIn's professional business community.
However, some business pros find that a basic account just isn't enough to allow them to perform all of the functions they need on LinkedIn. Depending on your needs and circumstances, it might make sense to pay a monthly premium for an account upgrade. Here's what you need to know . . .
- Profile Organizer. At the $9.95 per month upgrade level, you get something called a Profile Organizer. The Profile Organizer lets you create a limited number of folders that appear on the left side of the screen. You can then add your own notes to the profiles you drop in the folders. The real advantage of the Profile Organizer is that you can store profiles of people that are not verified connections. For sales pros, this feature greatly improves your ability to prospect and track new customers on LinkedIn.
- Searching. Paid LinkedIn accounts also give users expanded search features beyond what is available at the basic level. For $9.95 per month, your searches can yield as many as 100 results/search. At the $24.95 per month level that increases to 300 results/search and at the $49.95 level it jumps again to 500 results/search. Does that sound like a lot? It isn't if you're using the search feature for sales or recruiting. All paid accounts have access to 4 premium search filters that increase the granularity of your search results.
- Inmail. Paid LinkedIn accounts have the ability to send messages to anyone with a LinkedIn account – not just their connections. Although the number of monthly inmails is limited (the most expensive premium option only allows 10 inmails/month), this feature dramatically improves your ability to reach users with whom you have absolutely no other way to connect.
- Other features. The Profile Organizer, search capabilities, and inmail option make paid accounts an attractive option for recruiters and sales pros, but not necessarily for the average user. LinkedIn is constantly changing its paid service features, so it's worth the effort to periodically check for any new additions that may have more value for typical users.