LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator

It compares the following membership plans: Free vs. Premium Career vs. Premium Business vs. Sales Navigator vs. Recruiter Lite to make it easy for you to choose the best plan for you.

Along with the membership level comparison chart, we will also send you four cheat sheets that will help you make the most of any LinkedIn premium plan.

It compares the following membership plans: Free vs. Premium Career vs. Premium Business vs. Sales Navigator vs. Recruiter Lite to make it easy to choose the best plan for you.

Along with the membership level comparison chart, we will also send you four cheat sheets that will help you make the most of any LinkedIn premium plan.

If I only had a dollar for every time someone asked me: “Melonie, which LinkedIn membership level is right for my business?”

A free subscription, Premium Business or Sales Navigator, which one will best serve your needs and help you achieve your business goals, whether that be professional networking or lead generation?

The truth is, it depends…

…because every business’s needs and preferences are different.

To help you decide, I have created a comprehensive comparison guide that describes the features, tools, costs and benefits of each LinkedIn membership level.

Free LinkedIn subscription

Despite its clear limitations, there’s a lot to like about LinkedIn’s free membership level. With the free LinkedIn membership, you can:

  • build your professional identity on the web
  • build and maintain a large professional network
  • find and reconnect with colleagues and classmates
  • request and provide recommendations
  • search for and view profiles of other LinkedIn members
  • receive unlimited InMail messages
  • save up to three searches and get alerts on those searches.

However, many features once available in the free membership are now gone. That means it’s a little trickier to get around the lost functionality and avoid going over the monthly commercial use limit when you do your searches.

Many people using LinkedIn for lead generation often choose to upgrade from the free to a paid LinkedIn subscription for the following reasons:

  • they feel they are missing out on opportunities
  • they’d like to accomplish more in less time
  • they are not tapping into the full potential of LinkedIn for their business.

However, even with the limitations of the free membership, LinkedIn is still the best place for most professionals, B2B businesses and salespeople to (a) find and connect with their ideal clients, (b) post regular status updates and LinkedIn Publisher posts and (c) engage in numerous ways with their connections.

The very premise of LinkedIn is that it is an active social platform for businesses. Its membership far exceeds half a billion members worldwide at the time of writing.

The power of the platform is that even with the free membership you can quickly and easily find and connect with professionals and business people all over the world. 

Paid LinkedIn Membership Levels

Using LinkedIn for lead generation.

LinkedIn offers several paid membership levels.

These are the current plans in USD  at the time of writing when paid monthly (less when paid annually):

  • Premium Career: $29.99/month
  • Premium Business: $59.99/month
  • Sales Navigator Professional: $79.99/month
  • Recruiter Lite: $119.99/month

While Premium Career and Recruiter Lite are useful to a particular group of people, in this article, I will be comparing LinkedIn Premium Business and Sales Navigator Professional memberships – the most useful for lead generation on LinkedIn.

You can download a comparison graphic I created of the different LinkedIn membership levels.

 compares the following membership plans: Free vs. Premium Career vs. Premium Business vs. Sales Navigator vs. Recruiter Lite to make it easy for you to choose the best plan for you.

Along with the membership level comparison chart, we will also send you four cheat sheets that will help you make the most of any LinkedIn premium plan.

LinkedIn Premium Business membership

If you feel limited by your free LinkedIn account, you might want to consider LinkedIn Premium Business.

You can start with a free 30-day trial. After your free month, you will pay $59.99/month when billed monthly, and less when you pay annually.

Here is a list of tools and features you can access with your LinkedIn Premium Business subscription to help you decide if Premium Business is right for you:

Here is a list of tools and features you can access with your LinkedIn Premium Business subscription to help you decide if Premium Business is right for you:

Who’s Viewed My Profile

This feature is one of LinkedIn’s most popular because it reveals the types of people and companies your profile and skillset is attracting, often uncovering high-quality potential leads.

This section lists all the people who have viewed your profile over the last 90 days (you can see only the last five people with a free account.)

This section lists all the people who have viewed your profile over the last 90 days.

inkedIn provides you with a couple of basic filters below the top graph, showing you which companies your viewers are from, the most common job title of the viewers and how they found your profile.

It also provides a filter called Interesting views, which is a great filter to check out if you have a premium membership and get a lot of profile views.

InMail

If you want to send a message to someone you are not connected to (and with whom you don’t share a group), you must send them an InMail.

InMails can be useful when you want to reach out to a potential prospect before you send them a connection request or if they haven’t accepted your connection request.

This is only possible with a premium subscription. You are given a certain number of InMails every month based on your subscription level with an opportunity to purchase more.

Learn more about InMails here.

Extended LinkedIn Network Access

With Extended LinkedIn Network Access, you don’t have to worry about the commercial use limits put on free accounts.

This means you will not lose access to search results partway through the month, which would negatively affect your lead generation searches.

Activities that LinkedIn counts towards the Commercial Use Limits include:

  • searching for LinkedIn profiles on LinkedIn.com and mobile
  • browsing LinkedIn profiles using the People Also Viewed section located on the right rail of a profile.

Activities that do not count toward the limit include:

  • searching profiles by name using the search box located at the top of every page on LinkedIn.com
  • browsing your 1st-degree connections from the connections page
  • searching for jobs on the jobs page.

It is important to note that while the Extended LinkedIn Network Access is part of the Premium Business plan, it is not included in the Premium Career Plan.

LinkedIn price comparison chart.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional

LinkedIn offers a free 30-day trial of Sales Navigator. After your free month, you pay $79.00/month or less when billed annually.

With Sales Navigator Professional, you will get all the benefits of Premium Business plus many additional features.

Next, I talk about the additional features, their benefits and how you can use them for lead generation.

Sales Navigator Advanced Search features

The Advanced Search in Sales Navigator is incredibly valuable if lead generation is your priority because it makes it easy for you to find your ideal clients and potential prospects.

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search available with the free membership can already be helpful to find your ideal clients. But the extensive search filters found in Sales Navigator offer another level of detail, ease and automation.

You can search for your ideal clients with precision and then save those searches to receive new results every day, week or month automatically.

In fact, you have access to over three-dozen more filters in Sales Navigator than you do in regular search, which will allow you to narrow your search, save you time and create highly targeted search results on LinkedIn.

Additional Reading: How to Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation

Automatic leads & accounts recommendations

Sales Navigator makes it easier than ever to locate prospects with its Recommended leads & accounts features.

Sales Navigator suggests leads based on two parameters:

  • similarity to leads you have recently saved
  • sales preferences you saved in your Sales Navigator settings.

You can easily see and interact with the suggested profiles as well as save them as leads.

To get to the Recommended leads and Recommended accounts, go to the home page. On the right side of the page below Jump back in, you’ll see Recommended leads and Recommended accounts options. Click See all to get the full list.

On this results page, you can see a list of suggested potential prospects and companies based on your activity and sales preferences. You can save targeted leads and accounts by clicking the Save button in their profile boxes.

You can create a more targeted list of leads and accounts using the many search filters available on the left side of the page to further narrow your results.

Sales Navigator notes and lead lists features

A monthly subscription to Sales Navigator gives you the ability to add Notes to the profiles of your prospects and the companies you wish to follow as well as add them to specific Lead Lists you create. This is a crucial strategy if you want to stay organized using LinkedIn for social selling.

Every time you find a prospect or connect with a person, you should add them to a Lead List in Sales Navigator, based on who they are. For example, are they a prospect, a strategic partner or an existing client?

Notification of job changes

You can easily find out when one of your leads changes jobs with the Job change feature.

This can be useful in many ways when determining with whom you should be communicating at a particular company.

It’s also an effective natural conversation starter, offering you an excellent reason to engage with that person. That’s why it’s called a trigger event – it triggers engagement.

Using this and other trigger events for regular engagement with your network will keep you on their radars. Learn more about trigger events here.

You will find the Job change filter at the top of any search results page.

You can see your connection’s new position and quickly send them a message.

LinkedIn Learning Center

LinkedIn Learning Center is an online educational platform that helps you discover and develop business, technology-related and creative skills through expert-led course videos. It is included with your Sales Navigator subscription.

With more than 5,000 courses and personalized recommendations, you can discover, complete and track courses related to your field and interests. You can also choose to add these courses and related skills to your LinkedIn profile once you’ve completed them.

LinkedIn Learning Center is an online educational platform that helps you discover and develop business, technology-related and creative skills through expert-led course videos.

LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI Score)

Within Sales Navigator, you can see your SSI score.

LinkedIn’s SSI score measures your or your company’s performance in four key areas, also known as the LinkedIn SSI pillars. They are:

  1. Establish your professional brand
  2. Find the right people
  3. Engage with insights
  4. Build relationships
LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator

Regardless of the LinkedIn membership you have, you can access your SSI score here. Here is more about the LinkedIn Social Selling Index.

Deciding on the right LinkedIn subscription

Like all social media platforms, LinkedIn is constantly evolving, so it can be hard to know which plan will work best for you.

Whether you decide to invest in Sales Navigator or Premium Business or use the free LinkedIn membership, the key is to stay organized with your social selling activities.

While it may seem like it’s a lot more work to set up a lead generation system in the beginning, in the long run, being organized will:

  • save you time and effort
  • prevent you from getting overwhelmed
  • enable you to generate leads more efficiently.

You can also avoid making costly mistakes that come with being disorganized, such as sending the wrong message in the wrong context at the wrong time. When you do that, you lose prospects forever, so it pays to stay organized.

With tools such as Sales Navigator, getting and staying organized is faster and easier. Moreover, such tools provide additional features that will increase the success of your social selling activities.

LinkedIn’s Pay to Play professional plans

LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator

Social media has spoiled us over the years, giving us the ability to market to consumers without spending money. That has never happened before. But social media platforms have caught on to that and decided to capitalize on our need to use them for marketing.

LinkedIn did the same thing Facebook had done when it changed its algorithm for Business Pages. The change made it almost impossible for Business Pages to be seen organically. That was the start of the Pay to Play models on social media platforms.

Upgrading to a paid LinkedIn membership may not be right for everyone, but it certainly will make sense for those who can find, connect and build relationships with their ideal clients on LinkedIn.

I hope this comparison helped you decide which LinkedIn membership level will work best for you.

If you need help creating or improving your lead generation or social selling strategy, you can contact me here.

To learn more about how to use LinkedIn effectively, check out my new LinkedIn Leads video series. In it, you’ll find three videos that will teach you how to elevate your personal brand, attract more client, and build your authority – all with a few simple changes to your LinkedIn approachClick here to get access.

It compares the following membership plans: Free vs. Premium Career vs. Premium Business vs. Sales Navigator vs. Recruiter Lite to make it easy for you to choose the best plan for you.

Along with the membership level comparison chart, we will also send you four cheat sheets that will help you make the most of any LinkedIn premium plan.

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