by Jazmin Hupp & Jane West, Co-Founders, Women Grow
This weekend there will be many celebrations for #420Weekend across the country. The media will be broadcasting these images as representations of the legal marijuana industry to the rest of the world and you get to shape that coverage. Here’s our tips for creating images that we can all be proud of while getting the business connections you need.
1. If You’re Press Ready, Approach the Press
You’ll see cameras and reporters at many large events trying to interview as many people as possible. If you’re ready to talk clearly and intelligently to the press, approach the producer and introduce yourself with your business card. You’ll want to have 2-3 soundbites (1-3 sentences) ready with what you want to say prepared. It doesn’t matter what the reporter asks you, keep repeating your sound bites.
Reporter: “Do you think what you’re doing here today is a bad example for kids?”
You: “That’s a very interesting question, that’s why it’s so important we focus on [your sound bite]”
Never comment on anything you don’t want to be quoted on. Say as little as possible because they’re going to slice and dice your comments to fit the story they want to tell. A good sound bite won’t allow them to cut your words down to be misinterpreted.
2. Know Your Cannabis & Alcohol Limits
There will be alcohol and cannabis available to you freely at a lot of events. It’s impossible to tell from the outside of a vape pen how strong the concentrate is inside. If you’d like to partake with your new business colleagues, try sticking to flower, since dabs can hit you hard if you’re not normally a dabber. I recommend bringing cannabis that you’ve used before and know well whenever possible. My current favorite for networking events is Durban Poison in a Pax Vaporizer. Try skipping alcohol entirely if you’re consuming cannabis.
3. Keep Hydrated at Cannabis Events
I actually like that cannabis gives me dry mouth because it reminds me to drink more water and we’re all constantly dehydrated. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it throws off the wrong signals, you’ll get tired or hungry when you’re really just dehydrated. Take every chance you get to gulp down some water. I travel with a Platypus Water Bottle that folds flat while I go through airport security and then I fill it up on the other side.
If you’re throwing an event, make sure water is freely and easily available to your guests.
4. Create the Best Business Cards You Can Afford
Aren’t those the little pieces of paper we just throw away when we get home? Yes, BUT, your business card is what creates the first impression of your credibility and your brand. Even if you haven’t raised a dime of funding, splurging on a quality business card design and printing will give you a leg up in every conversation. We use Luxe Moo cards for Women Grow and they’re worth every penny we spend on them. Even if your new contact doesn’t know a thing about graphic design, a professional design enforce the fact that you are a professional in a sea of badly designed cards.
5. Learn How to Really Look Like You’re Listening
I have a body language coach that makes sure my body language matches my intentions since we get about 90% of information from what we see, and much less from what you hear. Take an acting, improv, or body language course to learn how you will be interpreted. You’ll want to know what you look like when you’re intently listening to someone so you can recreate that body language on demand.
6. Stop Slouching
This one I learned the hard way having photographs taken of me at marijuana industry events while I wasn’t posing. Posture really does matter. Not only does standing up straight improve your back health but it makes you look more confident and even slimmer.
7. Wear Comfortable Shoes to Marijuana Industry Events
No really. When we lobby on Capitol Hill, we walk at least 10,000 steps in a day. (Come lobby with the NCIA & MPP at the end of April). You won’t survive 420 weekend without a good pair of shoes (or three).
8. Pick a Signature Color & Wear It
Remembering people is hard. You can help them subconsciously remember your brand by wearing your brand color. Women Grow’s signature color is a deep red so I buy all the clothes I can find in that shade and sometimes even paint my nails with the same color. This year we’ll probably commission it as a lipstick color for our team to wear at events.
9. Keep Your Hair Under Control
Many women fuss with their hair when they’re nervous or bored. Whatever your nervous tick is, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of looking like a vapid beauty queen. Find a hair style that works for you and requires no touching.
10. Invest in a Real Name Tag
Name tags are supposed to make meeting new people easier but I can barely read what’s scrawled on those stickers. Spend $15 and get yourself a magnetic name tag that you can wear to every event.
11. If You Hate Marijuana Industry Events, Try This Instead
If loud parties aren’t your thing, try an activity or volunteer at an event instead. For example, coming up in Denver, we have a cannabis-friendly yoga class sponsored by Julie’s Natural Edibles and a Wildflower Hike hosted by Women Grow. If there aren’t alternative networking events in your area, talk to your local Women Grow chapter chair about planning one or start your own chapter.
12. Prepare for Social Media Networking
Now you don’t have to do it all but you should commit to at least two social media channels below and use them regularly. (Try a tool like Buffer to post to multiple networks in a single click.
- Facebook: Everyone has a Facebook account so this has become the de-facto standard for connecting in the cannabis industry as well. I recommend you get acquainted with Facebook Lists so you can separate what you post for your marijuana industry friends from what grandma sees.
- LinkedIn: Many professionals are finally #ComingOutGreen on LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn as my preferred network for business contacts.
- Twitter: This is the only major social network that hasn’t kicked cannabis companies off their platform (as far I know). Facebook & Instagram have closed hundreds of cannabis accounts that could be interpreted as selling illegal drugs. If you’re going to build an audience for your regulated business, Twitter is the current front runner.
- Instagram: Currently heralded as the most effective social network, Instagram features a distraction-free view for your followers to get to know you.
Have a social network that works better for you? Tell us why in the comments.
13. Follow Up with the Contacts You Meet
This shouldn’t qualify as weird but I know how many business cards I give out and less than 10% of people follow up afterwards. You will always be remembered well for sending a short note after a marijuana industry event. Even better send them an article or resource that might be helpful to them. If someone did you a favor, send them a real thank you card and they’ll remember you forever.
I connect to people on social media because the business email address they have now will probably be outdated in two years. Keeping track of the person is more useful then keeping track of where they work at the moment. If you’re overwhelmed with contacts and stacks of cards, try a business card scanning tool like Evernote or CamCard.
Your contact list is your single most important resource. Invest in it. Improve it. And you’ll do well.