It’s a great question and one that doesn’t necessarily have a clear cut answer. I don’t work for LinkedIn so I don’t have a vested interest in someone anteing up for the paid accounts. On the other hand, I do help people use LinkedIn and social media to improve their businesses and careers so of course I think it makes sense to engage with the platform as much as possible. In the end, my answer is usually some variation of, “Yes…eventually.”
Don’t Upgrade to Premium Too Quickly
Let me tell you the exact reason why you shouldn’t upgrade your account – because you think that doing so will make your LinkedIn presence more effective without any additional work.
It’s an easy mental trap to get caught in. Many professionals aren’t completely comfortable with social media. And when they consider their LinkedIn use, it’s easy to throw a lifeline at the premium account and hope that by paying for LinkedIn it will somehow magically work.
The thinking goes something like, “It’s hard to believe that LinkedIn can offer so many fantastic tools for free, so the good stuff that will really help me must be in the premium account!” Too many professionals think that the secret to using LinkedIn is behind the magic curtain of a paid account. So they sign up, start paying …and nothing different happens.
While the premium account does give access to some very powerful features (more about that in a second), it doesn’t do any of the work for you. You can have a premium account and still have no idea how to use LinkedIn effectively. Having access to these features doesn’t guarantee success in itself. You still have to approach these features strategically and execute on a tactical basis. It would be like thinking a new voicemail system would somehow make prospects call you out of the blue – it just doesn’t work.
So how do you decide whether and when to upgrade to the premium account? Here are three steps to follow:
Understand what you get with the premium account
You can view a full list of the premium features on LinkedIn’s site. There are some fantastic tools, including an expanded “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section and additional search filters. LinkedIn isn’t foolish – if it has an incredibly useful feature that they think people will pay for…they’re going charge users!
Maximize the free account
Before you pay for the premium, leverage all the free tools. Is your profile complete and optimized? Are you regularly sharing content through the status updates and engaging in conversations in at least a few of the 2 million+ groups? Have you used the search tool to find other professionals? You can get a lot done by using the basic account and putting a little attention on your LinkedIn activity.
Get frustrated by the limits of the free account
This is the best time to upgrade to the premium account – when you have bumped up against the ceiling of what you can do with the free account. That’s when you know that you’re using all of the available opportunities, and it’s time to open the net a bit and gain access to additional functions.
While there isn’t a right or wrong time to upgrade to the premium account, a few minutes of honest analysis will probably let you know where you are with your LinkedIn use. Just like a new piece of exercise equipment won’t do your workouts for you, the paid features aren’t going to connect and network for you. The LinkedIn premium account, while incredibly useful, isn’t the magic pill for your social media use. You and your efforts are still going to be the driving force behind its value.