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LinkedIn is a rapidly growing social networking site for professionals and businesses. Users can choose to create a free profile page or a premium profile page for a small fee, but how do they differ? Which one is going to be right for you? Let’s jump right in…

Free account key points

The free account gives you the opportunity to create a complete profile and resume as well as the opportunity to create a strong network of professionals in and around your industry. You can ask for recommendations from former employers, colleagues or partners, recommend others in return and use the search function to find other LinkedIn members. You can also receive unlimited messages from other members.

However, there are some limits to the way that you can use the free service. For example, when you try to look at second level connections you will not be able to see all of their information. If you consider that you might need to view more information than this then the free account may not be your best option.

There has been a certain amount of downgrading of the free accounts on LinkedIn, with several features removed. If you are using the site for lead generation then you may now find the process much harder. However, for many users the ability to connect with others and use the site for job searches is enough.

Premium account key points

There is actually more than one premium account.  There are options for job seekers, sales and talent professionals, and once you choose your account you can upgrade, cancel or downgrade as you need to.  There are different options for fees on the accounts and the site does run offers on membership so it is a good idea to regularly check the current charges, but remember that it is usually far more cost-effective to commit to a year’s payment instead of paying charges monthly.

Premium accounts allow you to increase the number of InMails that you can send, so you can reach out to more members and potential connections.  The premium accounts mean that you can carry out an unlimited amount of profile searches and make use of more filters to be more specific about what you want to find.

One of the main features of a premium account is the ability to see profile views. On a free account this is limited. You will see some names of those who have viewed your profile, but not all of them.  On a premium account you can see all of those who have searched for you and looked at your profile. Businesses can also find and hire talent with LinkedIn’s Recruiter Lite feature and there are also expanded business insights.

For those who simply want to present their resume and do a little networking, the free account will work out just fine.  For those who want to promote a business and use the site to boost sales, the premium accounts will have much more impact on a long-term basis. We hope you found this information helpful. As always, if you have any questions or need any  help with your social media, please contact Amy at amy@socialfocus.com.

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