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The Brooklyn Yearbook Sets a New Standard For Networking

This project by lifelong collaborators Brandon Iverson and Jordan Williams is helping young Brooklynites feel a bit less lonely and network at the same time.

It is a truth universally agreed upon that most networking events are miserable. No matter the field or event, there's always a good chance you'll be stuck talking to someone you don't want to for far too long, without any route for escape.

Yet networking doesn't have to be mind-numbing, according to entrepreneurs Jordan Williams and Brandon Iverson. To prove it, they co-founded the Social Experimentation and Entrepreneurial Discovery Studio (SEEDS) and launched the Brooklyn Yearbook, a social mixer for young professionals with a playful, nostalgic twist. 

“We're in this loneliness epidemic right now where a lot of people are inside,” said Williams. “A lot of that's due to the pandemic, right? People are doing at-home jobs, and there's not enough physical interaction with our friends…. As we're going into this increasingly digital world with, you know, the metaverse and all that stuff, how can we balance that with keeping human and physical interactions?”

The Brooklyn Yearbook's vision board. Photo: Supplied/OBam Productions

At the Brooklyn Yearbook's first event on Jan. 20, participants were not just left alone to chat. Instead, they had the opportunity to meet others while taking headshots for their LinkedIn profiles, playing oversized card games, shooting on mini basketball hoops, and participating in TikTok interviews. After taking their photos, participants were also sent to a vision board where they could write down what they were manifesting in 2024.

Williams said the company managed to get 180 people to the first event through social media outreach via TikTok and Instagram, and over 200 have already bought tickets to the second event scheduled for April 14.

Alexus McFarlane, who works in Human Resources and attends many networking events, found out about the event via TikTok and was charmed by the theme, hoping that there might be physical yearbooks somewhere down the line.

"What made [the Brooklyn Yearbook] feel different was that it wasn't one of those networking events where you drink and have to try to find people to talk to," McFarlane said. "There were essentially what I like to call activation stations. ... I thought it was really nice to have those separations because you don't have to force yourself to just talk to someone, you can actively be doing something at the same time."

At the second event, the actual yearbooks McFarlane hoped for will be distributed. The yearbooks will include the headshots taken at the first event along with senior quotes and space to write in future plans and reflections. Williams and Iverson think of the yearbooks as a keepsake from this specific time period, where people can document a snapshot of their lives. There will, of course, be yearbook signing.

Williams and Iverson, both originally from Atlanta, have been friends since birth. Their cooperative entrepreneurship began in early childhood, when their fathers, who were business partners, encouraged them to start a project together. 

Jordan Williams and Brandon Iverson at age 14. Photo: Supplied/Jordan Williams

First they resold old video games and toys. Next, they created “Making Money For Teens,” a financial education company teaching other kids how to follow in their footsteps.

“We had some experience under our belt, got our feet wet with entrepreneurship,” Iverson said. “So we started a little CD series, back when CDs were a thing, and we recorded ourselves on our MacBooks talking about how to start a business from home. We sold that CD and then we had another series about how to invest in stocks and mutual funds, because we were getting into the stock market at 13.”

In 2012, the duo published their first co-authored book, “Who Needs an Allowance?”

“We were really just trying to make money,” Iverson laughed.

Now, the duo's focus has shifted to filling a societal need for connection. 

“I feel like [Brooklyn Yearbook] kind of reflects the creative spirit of New York, of Brooklyn specifically, and especially for our age group," Williams said. "I think there's a real gap for events that are bringing together people in that creative segment in a unique way that doesn't get too stale.”

To keep things fresh, Brooklyn Yearbook will continue hosting events in the borough every few months. They also just announced that they would be starting a similar event series in Los Angeles. 

Buy tickets for the second Brooklyn Yearbook event here, and follow them on Instagram to learn about future events.

Hannah Berman

About the Author: Hannah Berman

Hannah Berman is a Brooklyn-born freelance writer. She writes about food, culture, and nonprofit news, and runs her own grumpy food newsletter called Hannah is Eating.
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