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How to become a LinkedIn power user in five easy steps

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | April 8, 2013
Use our guide to squeeze maximum value from the career networking service.

You can start discussions and polls inside groups, promote articles and websites, search for and post job discussions, and more. They're particularly useful for independent contractors, such as designers, freelance writers, and Web developers, because they can help you connect with clients in need of your services.

To find relevant groups, click the Groups link near the top of the page and choose Groups You May Like. LinkedIn will present a list of groups based on the information in your profile. If you want something more specific, use the search tool (you'll see that the default search changed to Groups when you entered this area of LinkedIn).

Step 5: Consider an account upgrade (carefully)

If you've explored LinkedIn to any degree, you've probably noticed that not all of its services are available to free subscribers. Some tools are available only to users with paid accounts, and those accounts aren't cheap: They range from $25 to $100 per month (with discounts available for annual billings). Fortunately, most users--even power users--are well served by free accounts. With a free account, you can fill out your entire profile, establish as many connections as you'd like, send as many messages and updates to those contacts you need, join groups, tweak your privacy settings, and search for any person or any job. You can read a LinkedIn FAQ regarding Premium accounts without needing to sign up for a LinkedIn account.

Premium account members tend to be "outbound professionals," according to Christian Sutherland-Wong, LinkedIn's head of product development for premium subscription products. Outbound professionals are people whose jobs depend on their connecting with people outside of their immediate networks. That includes hiring managers and recruiters, salespeople, business developers, researchers, and--to a lesser extent--job seekers.

Sutherland-Wong assures free users that while the premium account levels tout a feature that lets subscribers see full profiles of people who are not in their networks, individual user privacy is always respected. "If someone's account is private, nobody--free or paying--will be able to see their account. Any member can be completely anonymous if they want to be. It's just that if your account is public, then someone who's not part of your network might be able to see what you've already made public."

So access to profiles of people outside your network is one perk of being a paid subscriber. What else do the paid services have to offer? Here are a few other benefits.

InMail: LinkedIn won't allow you to send messages directly to people who aren't already in your network. If you want to send a LinkedIn message directly to Apple's Tim Cook, for example, he'll first have to accept your invitation to connect (good luck with that). If you're a LinkedIn Premium member, however, you can send him an InMail message.


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