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They were hoping for around 115 but just over 200 professionals partied and networked at the second Black Business Card Party (BBCP), held at the Empyrean on West Berry Street located in the PNC Building, downtown Fort Wayne. The BBCP served the dual function of being an entry-level networking event, that mixed experienced and rookie-level networkers, and an introduction for those same professionals to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentoring program.
The event was birthed when the “Voice of the City,” radio personality Big Kees and Zachary Briggs, CEO of Visual Prime Studios, a commercial/corporate video and photography company, were approached by the nonprofit with its evergreen call to recruit black professionals for volunteer opportunities.
“A lot of kids on [the nonprofit’s] waiting list are African-Americans,” Briggs said, “and it’s hard to match different races sometimes because parents and children want to be [paired] with someone they can relate to. And on the flipside, you constantly hear about the lack of networking for African-Americans.” Briggs mentioned how high-level entry level events either intimidate novice professionals with their implied grandeur or scare potentials away with expensive price points. “This is a holistic approach that can help the African-American community period.”
Billed more as a party (the networking is encouraged not prodded), the BBCP only cost $15 to get in; attendees were well fed with a top-line menu and were given free headshots from Briggs’ company, a value of $150. The BBCP only drops once a year, so get to patiently waiting for the next one. Briggs himself has been an official entrepreneur for three years, but spent seven years before that accruing the contacts, in part, through networking events he’s now co-producing.