The latest webinar in the 2021 Roy S. Pung Executive Speaker Series featured Wailun Chan (B.A. Finance ’98), chief financial officer at Grafana Labs, an open-source, database-neutral platform that collects stores, and analyzes measurement data. Prior his role at Grafana Labs, Chan served as the vice president of finance at LinkedIn, leading the finance team to scale the business from $100 million to $10 billion in revenue.
LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful and to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. The platform currently has 772 million members, 30 million companies and 20 million open jobs available to explore — but it can be difficult for a novice user to navigate so many opportunities.
Chan gave undergraduate honors students a deeper look into the functionalities of this highly successful professional networking service from two perspectives: for members and for customers, such as a company. Additionally, he shared advice on how to take advantage of the functionalities, resources and large virtual network LinkedIn offers to build a personalized professional brand.
“Once you step into the professional world, the professional brand that you have on LinkedIn will be a brand that you need to continuously invest in and continuously build for the next 30 years,” Chan said. “Your individual professional brand will be just like a brand of any company, so it’s something you have to manage seriously, professionally and thoughtfully.”
Managing a strong professional brand can be beneficial when searching for the right job opportunity as well as building and maintaining relationships. LinkedIn assists its users in finding the right job based on their prior experience and helps members share career interests and discover opportunities.
“When I think about a LinkedIn profile, it’s similar to a resume: How do I tell a story?” Chan said. “Try to think from the perspective of the employer and align your personal story with what they’re searching for.”
“LinkedIn’s algorithm helps you to find jobs it’ll know you do well, based off your past experience, but it doesn’t necessarily give you suggestions or jobs you’re looking to do next,” he continued. “You still need to put personal effort and find that balance to find the right job for you.”
Chan suggested that an effective networking method, particularly for college students, is to search companies of interest and to find MSU alumni to connect with. Building these mutual relationships can help a young professional gain insight on the company from a more personal perspective.
In addition, Chan shared how using LinkedIn to stay informed about news related to an area of interest or industry can also help users be aware of what others in their network follow. This helps members discover and join conversations with relevant people about the topics they care about.
Ultimately, these various components work together to build an individualized professional brand that can help young professionals stand out and serve as a competitive advantage in the workforce.
“Even though there will always be the required technical skillsets, there now is a shift towards qualitative characteristics,” Chan said.
The ability to maintain meaningful relationships and showcase unique skillsets via LinkedIn will continue to be a valuable resource for all business professionals to leverage as they work toward their own career goals.
More information on upcoming events in the 2020–21 Pung Speaker Series, as well as information on past events, is available at the Full-Time MBA program page.