As LinkedIn continues to grow and expand, it’s account offerings continue to evolve. As has always been the case, members still have free and paid options from which to choose.

Choosing between paid or free depends on a variety of factors unique to you including your current business needs, short-term job goals and future career aspirations.

Below is a run down of the latest options currently available to LinkedIn members. Review and decide for yourself which one works best. In the event your selection not work for you at the moment, LinkedIn allows members to cancel, upgrade or downgrade paid accounts at any time.

Basic or Free Account

With this plan, you can create a complete profile, build and reconnect with a professional network and fellow alumni of your alma maters, ask for recommendations and return the favor, and search and view profiles of other members.

Unlike paid accounts, the free version has some limitations. The details you can see about second-degree connections as well as those who have reviewed your profile are limited, and you request no more than five introductions at one time.

With regards to InMail, LinkedIn’s private messaging system, free subscribers can RECEIVE but NOT SEND messages.

The free version allows users to review profile and provides up to three saved search with alerts where you receive notification when new profiles fit pre-determined criteria.

Lastly, the free account does not allow the option of having an “Premium Profile” where anyone can view your full profile and message you free of charge.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  1. Do you anticipate needing to reach out to non-connections via InMail?
  2. Could you benefit from a larger professional network?
  3. Do you expect to need to request formal introductions?
  4. Would you like the ability to drill down to get details of who is checking out your profile.

If the answer to any of these four questions is YES – then the Free account may not meet your needs.

The Bottom Line: Those who need a presence on the site and nothing more should consider LinkedIn’s basic account.

Premium Accounts

LinkedIn offers two types of Premium accounts: Business Plus and Executive. The risk of jumping into the wrong account is fortunately mitigated now that plans can be canceled, upgraded or downgraded at any time.

The monthly fee for premium accounts varies (the most expensive is currently just shy of $900 annually), and plans are more cost-effective if you commit to an annual versus a monthly payment plan.

In a nutshell, the accounts vary slightly with regards to reach, but are the same with regards to visibility and search functionality offered.

REACH: The number of InMails you can send doubles from 15 to 30 when you bump up the Executive plan.

SEARCH: Both the Business and Business Executive plans offer unlimited profile searches, unlimited saved searches, and include seven distinct filters for users to apply when conducting Premium searches.

VISIBILITY: All Premium versions allow for “Premium Profile” selection, which as stated above, allows anyone to view your entire profile.

Bottom Line: A paid premium account will likely meet your needs if you anticipate conducting multiple searches, making connections with many and could benefit from knowing details around who has reviewed your online profile.

The final determination on which paid plan is best for you boils down to how much use you think you can make out of LinkedIn’s InMails.