LinkedIn Premium Accounts: Are they worth it?

19 10 2010

I’ve been utilizing LinkedIn’s vast networking capabilities to connecting with potential candidates and clients for some time now. I consider myself an avid and successful user of LinkedIn. Within my first year I grew my network to well over 3,000 first level connections, admittedly the majority of my early connections were open networkers and of little direct significance to my clients. However, open networkers are all worthwhile as they allow you to see a greater number or profiles in your searches.

While LinkedIn has great advantages there are still many challenges to overcome be an efficient tool. LinkedIn can be overwhelming by offering so much information, most of which may not be relevant to your end goal. Although LinkedIn is great at minimizing SPAM there is still a fair amount of SPAM messages that make it through. It also takes a fair amount of time to understand the limitations of your account and LinkedIn could do a better job of pointing these limitations out when you first open an account. Did you know you only have an initial 3,000 invitations and there is a magic number of rejected invitations that will result in you only being able to invite members to join your network if you have the email address associated with their LinkedIn account.

Well, now that I’ve pointed out several weaknesses of LinkedIn I must let you know that I feel it’s the single best networking tool out there, even before signing up for a premium membership. I’ve been able to gain several contracts and find several senior level candidates which I’ve placed as a direct result of the free membership on LinkedIn.

After my most recent senior candidate placement I asked my employer to consider a Premium LinkedIn Account. I’ve had it for less than a month and I must say that I feel that it’s worth every penny. For $99.00 a month I receive 25 InMails, numerous introductions, and several added features that weren’t even mentioned in their marketing advertising.

First off, the InMails are AWESOME! InMails virtually open LinkedIn wide open and allow you to contact all of your second and third level connections. For me this is essential because I’ve exceeded my LinkedIn open invitations. Prior to exceeding my invitations I was able to be sneaky and use a connection request to include a message directed at the recipient and it was going to make it the intended recipient. Once you’ve exceeded your open invitations it is worth price for the InMails alone.

The second feature that is invaluable is the increased number of introductions allowed. These introductions let you use your connections to help you meet others. In many ways these introductions are more productive than InMails. With an introduction you are able to touch base with two members of your network and put yourself out there more, which it the idea with social networking. I must caution you though, make sure you know who you are asking to push an introduction though. As a new user I once asked a direct competitor to introduce me to one of their clients. They were able to see the purpose of my connection. Fortunately, I did not reveal any secrets but my introduction was swiftly rejected. In this case an InMail would have been more appropriate and potentially effective.

There are several tools that are very helpful in growing a successful network and getting your profile seen. The search functions are vastly improved. You are given many search cosignatories which allow you to better target the people you are looking at. These categories let you select values like seniority, company size, years of experience, and type of connections that they are interested in. These addition search categories are of greater value because LinkedIn premium accounts allow you to see more of your results as well, so you don’t run into the, “Upgrade Your Account” page as quickly.

The other tool that I love to play with is the advanced profile activity results. These features let you see your profile statistics for the last 90 days. You can see how many times your profile came up in searches and how many people actually visited your site week by week. You can also see the top key words that resulted in your profile showing up searches by other members. With these tools you can play around with your profile and your group activity to see what activities or profile changes result in gained exposure. You can easily increase traffic to your profile and ultimately your company/personal web pages.

Lastly, the premium account allows me to accept open messages from all LinkedIn members. If someone wants to send me a message right now, they can. They don’t have to send an invitation and hope I accept. They don’t have to pray that their connections will forward an introduction. This results in anyone that is interested in conduction business discussions is able to do so, without me giving out any of my personal contact information.

Because I can profit directly from LinkedIn in my profession it’s a definite advantage. I would suggest it to anyone who uses LinkedIn on a regular basis. Please feel free to comment or ask any question that you may have about LinkedIn. If there is interest I’ll also continue to blog about some proven LinkedIn tips that I have used to grow my network to over 6,100 first level connections and continue to grow by an average of 6 new invites each day from other members.

LinkedIn Premium accounts have my vote. Go get yours!

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