The Women Grow team has just returned from the largest Cannabis Conference in history and after 5 days of non-stop networking, I have a few tips for you. Many of these take a few weeks to complete so start now and your preparation will pay off later.
1. Create memorable business cards and bring a pen
Your business card should be high quality and memorable (just like you). For Women Grow, we use Moo Luxe cards, which cost more but are well worth the first impression. If you can find a local letterpress shop, even better. Get a professional graphic designer to help you too. Spend more up front here and it’ll serve you well.
Also don’t forget to bring a pen to jot down notes on following up with every contact you meet. Believe me after a week of meeting dozens of people a day, you won’t remember half the conversations.
2. Get a real headshot
If you don’t have professional photos of yourself (wedding photos don’t count) this is the time to fix that. The goal of the photo is to confirm how professional you are and make it easier to find you in person. Wear your best business clothes and get a professional makeup artist if you can. This will serve you well for at least 2 years.
3. Social media stalk
Social media is underused at marijuana events so the few that understand it rule the roost. What’s the easiest way to find the most important people in the industry and start getting to know them? Twitter and Instagram. Look at the speakers & sponsors before you go and start having conversations with them online. Note that I said engage in conversation, not just follow them. Leave comments, respond with useful info, engage! It’s easier to start up a conversation with “hey I really loved that article you tweeted yesterday” then “hey you don’t know me”.
4. Curate your online presence
The first thing people will do when they get back home is look you up online. Take control of the networks you want to participate in and make your presence consistent and high-quality. If you haven’t tweeted in a year, turn that feed to private so you don’t show like a social media drop out. Use the same profile picture across all sites. Remember that profile picture should make it easier to spot you in real life.
5. Arrive well rested and stress free
To get the most out of these conferences, you’re going to hustle hard and it’s going to take everything you have. My Marijuana Business Conference schedule started at 8am most days and finished around 4am. Connections happen at 2am and so you’ve got to build stamina to be there. Rest, hydration, and a trip to the spa are my key ingredients to prep for events.
6. Be brave!
This is an industry of rock stars but they haven’t been rock stars for long so everyone is typically approachable. I can’t tell you how many women I meet who were hesitant to approach speakers while those speakers hang out in a corner with their significant others because everyone is afraid to talk to them. It’s always worth trying because what’s the worse thing that could happen? Maybe you don’t connect and they never remember you and you try again next year. The best things that can happen after connecting are well worth taking that risk. This industry is young, small, and friendly. Come introduce yourself, every time!
7. Know your tolerance levels
There will be copious amounts of alcohol and cannabis available to you but your goal is to do business first and have fun second. So you must understand your tolerance levels (when you go from succeeding to silly) to moderate your intake. DON’T try anything new. You may be offered some of the most potent products on the market and now is NOT the time to experiment. No one will ever think less of you for carrying a seltzer and lime around at a drinking party (in fact only the bar tender will even know). Don’t be afraid to say thanks but maybe later. I like to say that I don’t do dabs and business at the same time.
8. Don’t spend all your time in official events
No matter how small the conference, there are always people getting together outside of official events to talk business. Find the power players, offer to take them out and they might just offer to have you join them instead. Women Grow runs a suite at many conferences to help diverse new comers connect to the established power players. If you approach any of us to invite us out, we’ll probably invite you into our plans instead. But be brave and ask! There’s no downside to asking (unless you’re a jerk about it, and you’re probably not).
9. Don’t take anyone’s shit/Dealing with being hit on
We had reports of women being hit on and even one of my colleagues was grabbed and kissed by a man at an industry party. At Women Grow events we police that behavior and keeping the gender balance closer to equal helps men realize that the women are here for business, not decoration.
Business is never worth devaluing yourself so don’t do it. Speak up when the people around you say stupid shit. Don’t tolerate harassment from anyone! Ever! Keep a friend nearby and rescue each other if you need help. Believe me you’ll be better respected for speaking up for what’s right than going with the flow. And honestly if someone doesn’t want to work with you after they treat you like a sex object, you don’t want to work with them either. Move on!
What’s your best tip?
Share your tips on surviving and thriving at the next big cannabis conference in the comments.