LinkedIn – To Pay or Not To Pay?

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LinkedIn Training

As a LinkedIn trainer and advocate, I am more than usually attuned to any changes that this social network makes. Therefore I want to alert users (and non-users or dormant members that really ought to be active) to some interesting and potentially very worthwhile upgrades and features of the LinkedIn service offering. I think that every business or organisation can benefit in different ways from using these features.

Free Searches

Active standard users will probably have noticed that in the last few months, they have been able to search for individuals and see their full names displayed. Previously all you got was a first name and a surname initial, which was highly frustrating. The aim was to force you to upgrade to one of the LinkedIn Premium accounts (at a cost) so as to be able to reveal the full identities of people you are checking out. But now, to quote the network itself:

“As part of our ongoing efforts to make search on LinkedIn more relevant and powerful for you, we’re increasing the visibility of your extended network in search. You’ll now be able to view full names and profiles for anyone in your extended network — 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree — a level of visibility previously available only to paid subscribers.”

There are limits, though, as you might expect: everyone has to pay the bills and LinkedIn still needs heavy-duty searchers (especially Marketing, Sales and HR Departments, Recruitment Agencies etc.) to subscribe for an enhanced service. On the basic free package, there is what the network describes as a ‘commercial use limit’ in a month (which is undefined): so if you use the facility to make lots of searches, you may find yourself blocked.

What has Premium ever done for us?

So for the benefit of those who have not studied the subject, what can you get out of upgrading your LinkedIn presence?

With Premium Professional, an individual can have an enhanced (bigger and more prominent) listing – a bit like ensuring that your CV is near the top of the recruiter’s in-tray. And in terms of reaching out to employers or to potential clients, you can see and respond to everyone who has viewed you in the last 90 days (as opposed to only the first 5 that you can normally see).

And importantly, you can send up to 25 InMail messages a month to people with whom you are not connected or have restricted profiles. I think of it in terms of being able to bypass the PA/gatekeeper who protects a senior executive.

If you are on the lookout for particular profile types, you can save a search – and when new matches appear, you are automatically notified.

Many of the same features are available to people who are actively on the lookout for a new post – and they can focus on boosting their profile via Job Seeker Premium.

Social Media Training

Doing the Business

If you are a business that recruits infrequently, then Recruiter Lite is probably for you – it gives you 30 InMail messages a month, advanced search filters, candidate tracking, unlimited search and other Premium services.

While marketers will find the Lead Accelerator package of interest for the way in which it unlocks LinkedIn’s advanced demographic and geographic targeting ability to the full.

And sales directors can use Sales Navigator, to make Boolean searches that tighten the focus and allow you to locate the right target individuals. The database that you create also integrates with Salesforce, not only to upload your CRM data but also to sync automatically with it on a daily basis.

Of course, as I have reported before there are also display ads and text ads, but they are available regardless of your membership, if you pay the entry fee. And you should probably use Lead Accelerator to monitor your campaign effectiveness (like Google Analytics, except this is not free). So that takes us back to an assumption that if you are going to get serious about the world’s biggest business social network, you might as well pay the piper…