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Elevate Your Cannabis Conference Experience: Insider’s Survival Guide

Billy Anthony

The expansive world of cannabis conferences is exciting but can be intimidating for those new to the scene. Whether you’re an industry professional who’s been to your fair share of cannabis conventions, conferences, and expos or an interested party looking to attend your first, this guide will provide you with the tips you need to be successful — and have a great time doing while you’re at it.

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Meet Leafwell’s Outreach Manager, Billy Anthony

Anthony has worked in sales and digital marketing for the last 10 years. He started with Yelp, moved to Weedmaps, and now works for Leafwell as an operations and partnerships manager.

Attending in-person events and conferences is vital in any industry. Over the past decade, he’s gone to countless networking events and cannabis conferences, from Billboard conferences to MJBizCon.

“Knowing how to connect with people face to face is super, super important,” Anthony said. “It’s really a relationship business.”

First-time Cannabis Event Networking Tips

Anthony’s No. 1 tip for first-time conferencegoers is to be intentional about your interactions and do your homework.

“Nobody’s going to come up and talk to you,” he said. “I wish I had known that, but the reality is, no, you really have to be intentional. And doing your homework, too — having a list of people you want to connect with.”

He added that you must approach your potential partners with a plan, be bold, and start the conversation.

“More often than not, if you’ve got a decent value proposition and there is an opportunity for a mutually beneficial partnership, they want to hear from you,” he noted. “They want to know, but they don’t have the idea in their head. You’ve got to start the conversation.”

How to Prep For a Cannabis Conference Like a Pro

Anthony decides which conferences to attend based on whether or not they will be beneficial from a business, career, or professional standpoint.

Next, he looks at each event and determines its focus (B2B, B2C, etc.). This initial assessment informs him how to research the audience, speakers, and panels.

Anthony emphasizes treating it as though you’re borrowing someone’s time, noting that it’s crucial to ensure you’re not just going up to people and bluntly saying, “Hey, buy what I’m selling.”

Understand who you’re approaching, their pain points, what they need, and what you have that could benefit them.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously,” Anthony said. “Be loose enough to laugh or tell a joke, even if it’s a bad one.”

Dress Code for Cannabis Industry Events

Regarding what to wear to a cannabis conference or industry event, Anthony said that overly formal attire can be off-putting. However, that also depends on which kind of event you’re attending.

“If you’re going to an investor conference — for example, Benzinga Capital conference — maybe [wear] a jacket or something like that,” Anthony suggested. “But at the same time, you don’t have to. That’s just my choice.”

He advises wearing clean and comfortable clothes, adding, “There was something at a company I worked for before this. They said, don’t dress like a cop.”

Must-Have Supplies for Conference Attendees

Anthony’s list of must-haves for cannabis conferences, events, or expos includes:

  • Laptop — Don’t miss out if there’s an opportunity to advance a meeting because you can’t get the deal done on the spot.
  • Business cards — Anthony uses Blinq, a QR code app that stores his contact info.
  • Pen and paper — For jotting down ideas when sitting in panels or seminars.
  • Mints — Bad breath is a deal breaker. From drinking coffee to smoking joints, you don’t want people looking for an exit when they’re talking to you.

Post-Conference Routine

After the conference concludes, Anthony’s job is not done. It’s essential to be consistent and follow up with connections made on the conference floor while things are fresh. His post-conference routine looks something like this:

  • Organize contacts, business cards, notes, etc.
  • Input information into your respective CRM.
  • Follow-up within 24-48 hours.
  • Ask for a meeting.

Tips For Attending MJBizCon

With MJBizCon right around the corner, Anthony’s No. 1 tip for that conference, in particular, is to make initial connections during the day. He said the after-parties are often not the best time for names and introductions.

“You really never know who you’re in the elevator with,” Anthony noted. “You never know who you’re standing next to at an exhibitor booth. So, don’t hesitate to ask, ‘Hey, how are you doing? What brings you here? Why are you here? Hey, what does this do? How does this work?'”

He emphasized that attendees should make connections strategically, but that doesn’t mean not having fun. Use the initial connections and introductions made on the floor or in the exhibitor hall to break down that wall when you unwind at the after-parties.

The Bottom Line

Cannabis expos, conferences, and events offer an excellent opportunity to learn and connect with industry professionals. Whether you’re in the industry or simply a conscious consumer who’s passionate about cannabis, this guide will help you tackle your next event with confidence and ease.

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