Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Business Development Jonathan Packer has worked in networking for about eight years. He shared several tips about the importance of networking with Herald Business Editor Mason W. Canales.

Packer joined the chamber five years ago, after three years as the executive director of the Upshur County Economic Development Corporation in Gilmer. He works on programs that deliver value to the chamber’s investors and enhance the Killeen region’s economic future.

Packer helped the chamber create business councils, which are networking groups segmented by field or industry. He grew up in Southeast Asia and received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech in international affairs.

Why is networking important for businesses and professionals?

Networking builds rapport between business professionals. Networking is an opportunity to meet people, introduce your business and grow trust.

How can networking strengthen your business and professional career?

As a Chamber of Commerce professional, I place great value in the relationships I can build by participating in state and national networks of chamber professionals.

This value is generated through knowledge sharing that I can take back to my current position, and the development of relationships that will follow me throughout my career.

Is it better to network locally or nationally?

For most small businesses, local networking is where they should focus. As a business grows they will need to expand their network regionally and nationally.

For employees within an industry, national networks make a lot of sense because you grow relationships with those in similar jobs to you that can lead to career advancement.

What should people remember to do when engaging in networking activities?

Be a good listener. At their core, business relationships develop when you can meet a need for another business or individual. Spend less time explaining what you do and more time listening for ways that you can help someone.

What are your top three resources for networking? Why do you use them?

A resource that I believe in is networking at your local chamber of commerce. One way the Killeen chamber offers networking is through its business councils, which are segmented groups of members who share something in common and can take a business beyond general networking. I also find that LinkedIn groups are a great away to contact, keep in touch and learn from other professionals. Lastly, find someone in a similar position who you look up to. Ask them how business relationships have helped them get where they are.

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