LinkedIn Quick Tip: Should You Upgrade to a Paid Account?

Not sure what you get from the paid level of membership to LinkedIn? Here's the lowdown on four advantages.

What a Paid Account Includes:

Social networking service LinkedIn is free, but if you choose to upgrade to a paid account, you have access to additional features. What are the four top advantages in updating your account?

1. Send messages directly, without waiting for an introduction from one of your contacts (called "InMails"), which the site says get a 30 percent response rate;

2. Access the Profile Organizer that allows you to track important profiles in a dedicated workspace, organize profiles into folders and add details to contacts such as notes and contact information;

3. View more profiles when you perform an advanced search (free accounts limit you to 100 search results); and

4. Access more specifics on who's viewed your profile.

There are three types of paid accounts: Business, Business Plus and Pro. The Business account costs $24.95 per month and allows you three InMails per month, 300 profiles per search and five folders in the Profile Organizer. Business Plus costs $49.95 and allows you 10 InMails per month, 500 profiles per search and 25 folders in the Profile Organizer. The Pro account costs $499.95 per month, allows you 50 InMails per month, 700 profiles per search and 25 folders in the Profile Organizer.

More information on the specifics of paid accounts can be found here.

Determining If a Paid Account Is for You

LinkedIn paid accounts are generally geared toward professionals such as HR representatives and recruiters who rely heavily on thorough and in-depth people searches and InMails in order to discover and vet potential employees.

Otherwise, you can usually forgo a paid account, says Lewis Howes, author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success On The World's Largest Professional Website, even if you are looking for a job. "If you have a little time, then you can send introductions through your own connections to get in tight with the right people," he says. "Most people find jobs based off of referrals, therefore upgrading would defeat the purpose of using your own network to ask for an introduction to a potential employer."

Next: Special LinkedIn Deals

Special Deals

If you sign up for the Business, Business Plus or Pro account and pay for one year, LinkedIn will give you two months free. Also, if you'd like to try the LinkedIn Profile Organizer for free (without having to enter a credit card number), visit this page and click "start free trial." A new link will appear for a limited time in your profile under the navigation bar called "Profile Organizer."

Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.

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