Attending a Cannabis Expo? Don't Miss These Networking Tips

I don't know about you, but lately I feel like I'm packing my bags almost every week to head out to another industry expo or networking event. While perusing expo floors and happy hours, collecting and receiving business cards at an unnaturally rapid pace, a few key strategies have stood out to me for their effectiveness. Here are my top three tips for making the most of your marijuana expo experience:

  1. Define your intention and dedicate yourself to it. At all times there are roughly 50 new ideas floating around in my head about ways to improve my business and new projects to launch. I know it is unrealistic to address each, so I choose one and I dedicate myself to it. Do not expect to accomplish each of your needs at the next expo you attend. That is impossible. But select one, and dedicate yourself to using the next event to move the needle forward on that project. You'll act very differently if you're aiming to collect as many business cards as possible than you will if you're aiming to find potential hires. Choose your aim ahead of time and follow it through.
  2. Make an impression. Making your brand known at an industry expo is both easy and extremely challenging. Confusing, I know. What I mean is this: You're surrounded by an interested audience. Attendees are interested in what's going on in the industry (that's why they're there in the first place) and so they're likely to give you plenty of opportunities to explain what your brand is and shower them with swag. Capitalize on this. The flip side to this situation, however, is that it means there is also a whole lot of noise to compete with. How do you stand out from the other hundreds of brands also attempting to shout the loudest and throw around the most branded swag? I went to my first expo with nothing but a stack of business cards and wide eyes. No swag, no sponsored booth, nothing. I saw that many booths looked the same. Many logos were reminiscent of those I had already seen. Many booths handed out the same branded items. (Anyone in need of a t-shirt? I've got 300 branded ones.) Before spending time and money on expo marketing efforts, first observe. Figure out what everyone else is doing so you can stand out by doing something different.
  3. Ask questions. Everyone loves talking about themselves. Let them. Ask questions about them, about the industry, about brands, opinions, observations, everything and anything. Who is better suited to answer your most hard-pressed questions about the industry than industry members themselves? If you spend the whole event talking about only yourself and your brand, you are sure to miss out on opportunities to meet your next business partner or learn about upcoming trends. Start asking questions and you'll be sure to uncover information that may be just as valuable as your next sale.

Don't forget: We're the lucky ones. We're in a new, emerging industry that is going nowhere but up -- and fast! Just being at a legal marijuana industry expo means you're in a great position. So network with some like-minded people, learn something new, and have fun.

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Find more information about cannabis entrepreneurship in Christian Hageseth's book Big Weed: An Entrepreneur's High Stakes Adventures in the Budding Legal Marijuana Industry