LinkedIn's premium plans don't come cheap, and they're not an easy sell for many users. However, there's an army of people who pay for the services on a monthly basis. Why do these people pay LinkedIn $30, $60, $80 or even $120 per month for access to its special features and data?
LinkedIn Premium is a sort of exclusive club for job seekers, recruiters and sales professionals, and the fees can be considered vanity costs. Some LinkedIn users quickly decide to return to the free version, but many others continue to pay for the costly services even after they accomplish specific goals.
Here are details on some of LinkedIn's premium plans.
LinkedIn's Lineup of Premium Offerings
The base version of LinkedIn Premium is aimed at job seekers who are willing to spend $30 a month for three InMail messages (or messages that can be sent to any LinkedIn user, no connection necessary), additional details on the people who view their profiles, and more tools to help make those profiles stand out to recruiters.
The $60-a-month Business Plus plan includes 15 InMail messages, advanced search filters and unlimited searches in your extended network. LinkedIn's Sales Navigator Professional version gives you a lead-builder tool, lead recommendations and real-time insights on existing accounts and leads, for $80 per month.
[Related How-To: 6 LinkedIn Tips to Make Your Profile Pop]
Finally, the Big Kahuna of LinkedIn Premium, Recruiter Lite, cost $120 per month, and it gives you 30 InMail messages, advanced search, unlimited visibility of your extended network, automatic candidate tracking and integrated hiring, with a recruiting-specific design.
LinkedIn Premium Can Be an 'Incredibly Valuable Tool'
Jack Martin, CEO and founder of Technology Jobs NYC, says LinkedIn Premium is an "incredibly valuable tool" in his line of work. Martin especially appreciates the capability to search LinkedIn's entire database and quickly send InMail messages to job candidates.
"The biggest downside is that some individuals are overwhelmed with requests, and it can drive very smart and talented people away from the service," Martin says.
Anthony Kirlew, co-founder of digital marketing agency Imagine Wow, says LinkedIn Premium can quickly pay for itself for anyone in a business development role. "Many users, especially at the executive level, maintain privacy settings that restrict users from connecting with them," he says. InMail messages help facilitate connections with these people.
David Coher purchased LinkedIn Premium a year ago, and he says it provides value for him almost every month. In his role as principal, reliability and cybersecurity, for Southern California Edison, Greater Los Angeles's electric utility, Coher says it's important for him to make new connections and elevate his profile among people with whom he shares a mutual connection or interest.
"I find that people are more likely to respond to a LinkedIn InMail message than to a traditional email," he says.
For this reason and others, Coher encourages his peers to sign up for LinkedIn Premium, and it is one of the first things he suggests when someone comes to him for career advice.
[Related News: LinkedIn Makes Enterprise Inroads With New Communication Tools]
"I noticed a marked increase in the number of viewers of my profile once I signed up for the LinkedIn Premium service," Coher says. "I notice when someone — a vendor, a job applicant, a connection otherwise — has a LinkedIn Premium profile, and it does make an impact on me. I note it as that person cares about appearing professional in their online presence."
Making the LinkedIn Leap From Free to Premium
Mike O'Neil has used LinkedIn for more than 11 years and says he's paid for LinkedIn Premium since the day it was initially offered. He's built a business around the platform, as president of Integrated Alliances, where he consults with and trains managers, marketing teams and sales professionals.
O'Neil calls LinkedIn Premium the "best monthly investment I have ever made," though he also says users can still get plenty of value from the free version.
The decision to pay for LinkedIn Premium should be a simple one for job seekers and professionals working on sales, recruiting or human resources, management, marketing or public relations, according to O'Neil.
"Unfortunately, many people pay for LinkedIn and they don't put in the effort," he says. "It's kind like an athletic club membership."
O'Neil says the challenge for most people isn't paying attention to LinkedIn, it's deciding whether or not to pay for the premium service — and then what to do with it if they make the investment.
"If you might like a better career path, LinkedIn is the centerpiece of that," he says.
Is Linked Premium Too Pricey?
The most valuable tools you get with a LinkedIn Premium subscription are InMail messages, advanced search and additional results in search queries, according to O'Neil.
The benefits of LinkedIn Premium aren't always immediately apparent. They can be "very long term, but it depends on how you use it and how you keep up with it," O'Neil says. "Once you close your first deal as a result of LinkedIn, it changes everything."
[Related News Analysis: How to Use LinkedIn's New Profile Features]
LinkedIn Premium's biggest barrier to adoption is cost, according to O'Neil. "The packages being offered now are overpriced in terms of what people are expecting," he says. O'Neil suggests the market would be more receptive to a $20-a-month baseline business package.
The premium offering's disjointed levels of service are dizzying, even for O'Neil, who hopes LinkedIn somehow addresses that point of confusion, introduces new features and promotes a lower, entry-level price for premium services.