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There is no doubt that there are multiple benefits in having an upgraded LinkedIn account. However, if you aren't working the free version to its full capacity, why upgrade? There is so much you can do on the LinkedIn platform, so before you bite the bullet and pay for a premium membership, here are five things you need to master before you do.

OPTIMISED PROFILE

Your number one priority is to ensure your profile is optimised. Without a fully functional profile, you simply cannot build your professional brand on the platform.

Pay attention to the four most important sections: your headline, profile image, cover image and summary. These key sections will affect your ability to be found on LinkedIn, through LinkedIn's search algorithm and by increasing your visual appeal and credibility. You can increase your chances of showing up in the search results by including keywords. Most importantly, your profile must speak to your target audience and inspire them to learn more about you.

Recently, LinkedIn announced the introduction of a new feature for business owners and freelancers. The function will allow you to add the services you offer to your profile page, making it easier for people to find you and your business.

INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY

Sharing status updates with relevant and quality content will increase your visibility on the platform. By doing so, it will position you as a thought-leader or industry expert, helping potential prospects find you. These regular status updates will also help you get noticed by your network, and when they engage with your content, it will expand your reach to their connections and beyond.

You can also increase your visibility by publishing your own thought-leadership articles on the platform. These articles will help larger groups engage with you and increase your credibility and authority in your industry. Including relevant hashtags when you post content will help people beyond your network find your updates when they search that topic.

ENGAGE WITH YOUR NETWORK

No matter if you are engaging with other LinkedIn members or they are engaging with you, this will ultimately increase your visibility on LinkedIn. When people outside your network see your engagement, it is easier for you to start to build authentic connections with a broader audience.

JOIN GROUPS

You can join up to 100 groups on LinkedIn. So, you can significantly increase your reach and expand your network by joining relevant LinkedIn Groups. Stay informed by joining industry-specific groups and engage with your peers. To develop connections with potential clients, join groups that your ideal clients already belong to, allowing you to engage with them in a community setting.

CONNECT AND GROW

Your goal should be to build and maintain an extensive network, but you must focus on connecting with the right people: prospects, current and past clients, colleagues, thought-leaders and industry peers. You must maintain this network by interacting and fostering your connections with them.

TIME TO UPGRADE

Once you have mastered these on the free platform, you may then be ready for more functionality. That is when we would recommend you consider a premium account. An upgraded account will give unique insights and advantages; selecting which account is best for you will be dependent on your goals. Some of these benefits include:

UNLIMITED SEARCHES

With a paid account, you have access to unlimited searches via the advanced people search tool. This is a significant advantage if you're a salesperson or a business owner.  Be aware - LinkedIn does have a commercial search limit, but luckily, this function resets on the first day of each month so you should be able to allocate your searches wisely.

ADVANCED SEARCH FILTERS AND SAVED SEARCHES

If you use the advanced search window regularly, a premium account will allow you to utilise the additional search fields, these can come in handy. LinkedIn allows you to save up to three searches; when you upgrade to a premium account, you can have up to five searches saved.

OPEN CONNECTIONS

When you have a paid account, anyone on LinkedIn can send you a message, whether you are connected or not. This can help you grow your network further; you must ensure they are a quality connection that fit within your network.

LEAD GENERATOR

Sales Navigator has a lead generator feature that offers suggested leads, recommended leads and accounts based on your previous connections and saved searches. This tool is excellent for salespeople and business owners looking to build their client base.

INSIGHTS

Premium accounts give you access to career insights and sales navigator access to business insights. These insights provide you with market research and unique data insights to help you make informed decisions when gathering relevant information on key markets and competitor analysis.

INMAILS

A premium account will give you access to InMail messages. InMail messages allow you to contact anyone on LinkedIn, even if you are not connected.  While these messages are known to have a bad reputation for cold calling and spam, they can still be a beneficial tool when used correctly. To understand how to use InMail messages effectively, read our guide here.

In a nutshell, before considering an upgrade, make sure you know the basics of LinkedIn well. If you really WANT TO LEARN HOW TO USE THE LINKEDIN PLATFORM TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL,

JOIN ME AT ONE OF MY MASTERCLASSES.

Our hands-on training sessions teach you:

·       How to optimise your profile so you will get found on LinkedIn

·       How to strategically grow your network

·       How to position yourself as an industry expert

·       How to build a company page and nurture your community