ImageThe large majority of people are using LinkedIn for free.  However, you get constantly bombarded with upgrade requests from LinkedIn.  And yes, a number of people are paying but it is really needed or worth it?

Let me be clear, if you are in recruitment there is no doubt that paying for LinkedIn is an asset but otherwise I think paying is more a status symbol especially when your target audience (eg. Belgium with less than 1.8 million members) is less than 2 miilion people.  Are you collecting badges?

If you are paying for LinkedIn, keep in mind that you will have to put in the work to use the functionality you are paying for and that cost is often overlooked.

The Facts

LinkedIn offers a bunch of different payment schemes.  From Premium over Sales and job Seekers to Recruiters.  With formulas varying between 20€ to 300€/month for different types of functionality.

But what are you getting?  You will see more than the last 5 people who viewed your profile, You will see full names in the 3rd degree, You can review more profiles, you have more saved searches and introductions, and yes, the all-important Inmails.

The Reality

After asking around most people seem to pay for one of these functions: who viewed my profile and send Inmails.

Looking at these and other paying features, you will find that a lot is never used or there are simple work arounds.  Let’s take a look at some of these paying items.

Ask yourself how many people have viewed your profile in the last 3 days?  I’ll bet you that it is less than 5 unless you post great stuff via your status update or change your personal profile data every day.  So if you are using LinkedIn intensively (as you claim), you will look at this daily or every other day and you will catch who viewed your profile. So no need to pay.

You want to send emails to people in the 2nd degree and beyond, Inmail is your answer.  This is an Email via LinkedIn that the receiver needs to answer within 7 days (or you get your credit back).  A subscription will give you between 3 and 25 Inmails per month.  This sounds great but after asking around it seems few people are actually using this to its full potential. Are you really sending 3 to 25 emails per month via this system on LinkedIn?  Okay, it is probably the best feature paying on LinkedIn but most people are not aware that they can be purchased separately for about 10€/Inmail thus payment for use versus a subscription might be a better option.

By the way, did you know you can send ANYONE on LinkedIn a free message if you are a member of the same group on LinkedIn?

An then there are other options such as using introductions to get a mail to a 2nd degree contact or the plain old Google Search option to find someone’s email address.  So here too the conclusion must be that you can live without.

In real life we ask people to introduce us to other people, but we rarely use this feature in on LinkedIn.  Again, how many introductions do you ask on a monthly basis? And yes the answer is that you can do this on a free subscription (3 per month).

And then there is the search and view of people’s profile.  You can click and see the first 100 profiles on a free subscription.  Do you really want to review the 299th profile?  Maybe your search criteria need to be fine-tuned.

Have you ever heard of “saved searches”.  If not, do not feel bad because you are not alone.  “Saved searches” will run a specific search combination on a regular basis (weekly/monthly) and send you a list of profiles that meet that criteria.  It is similar to Google Alerts.  Both are great tools to generate leads.  Again, you have 3 of these searches with a free subscription.  So why pay if these 3 have not been used yet.

The only conclusion I can draw from the above is that paying for LinkedIn is more of a status symbol than of real use with a good ROI.  If you are looking for real ROI, you need to keep your network warm while slowly expanding it with a purpose.

“Keeping your network warm” Tips

I would like to end this post on a constructive way to keep your network warm.  Are you willing to spend 20 minutes/day to have a real ROI from your network?

  1. Make sure your profile is up to speed and includes your contact information visibly.  Set your “how others see my profile when I click” to full view.
  2. Do regular “Status Updates” sharing both own information and information from others you want to share with your network.
  3. Use the renewed Network/Contact tab option “Daily” (Stay in touch with your network)
    1. Congratulate your contacts with their new jobs
    2. Wish your contacts a Happy birthday
    3. Congratulate your contacts on being x number of years in their job
    4. Review the new posts and comments in the groups you belong to and contribute where possible
    5. Check out who reviewed your profile
      1. 1st degree contact -> send a message to start a conversation
      2. 2nd degree contact -> if interesting “connect” or even better “ask for an “introduction” through a mutual friend
      3. Check out the results of your “saved searched” and act upon it.
      4. Review Companies that you follow for interesting content (for sharing)

Your moment to comment

Do I hear people grumbling or saying “yes, I always thought so”, I’d love to hear from you.  Do you agree or disagree with me?  And what are you doing to keep your network warm?

One thing is sure, I am not going to pay for LinkedIn (but never say never)