Meeting cannabis professionals and building relationships with them is an essential part of establishing and growing your own cannabis business and brand. that you wanted find a job in the cannabis industrylaunch a new entrepreneurial adventure, find investors or strengthen your company’s cannabis industry supply chaineffective networking with other professionals can help you achieve your goals.
Uncomfortable networking? You’re not alone. Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it is a learned skill. It’s one of those things in life that adheres to the adage – the more you do it, the better you get at it.
To help you get started networking in the cannabis industry, here are some tips to set you up for success.
Create an online profile
What do people find when they search for you online? What links appear on the first page of Google search results when they search for your name, brand name, or business name? Try it and see what you find about yourself.
What happens if someone searches for you on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or cannabis-specific social media sites? Do the results accurately reflect you, your brand and your business? Are the results what you want people to find?
Here is the truth. When someone wants to know more about another person, brand or business, the first place they usually go is the internet. Specifically, they search for that person, brand, or business using Google or their favorite search engine. Another first stop when trying to find out more about someone is social media.
That means now is the time to start publishing content, updating your website, and building a social media footprint so anyone looking for you online will find what you want them to find!
Create a tangible takeaway
Imagine you attend a cannabis industry conference and meet dozens of people. You won’t be able to remember them all when you get home, and you won’t be able to follow them to build relationships with them, unless they’ve given you something to take home like a business card or brochure.
The same goes for people who meet you at networking events. They may not remember you or know how to contact you after the event unless you give them a takeaway. Therefore, create business cards and/or a brochure – even if your cannabis business is not yet operational – so that they can easily contact you after the event.
And don’t forget to ask other people for their business cards and brochures as well. Use them to take notes on people so you don’t forget the details when it’s time to follow up.
Develop your icebreaker and elevator pitch
What will you say to people when you start a conversation with them? You need to be prepared with an icebreaker introduction and develop a summarized in seconds that arouses people’s interest.
This is not a unique situation. You should create multiple pitches and lightning pitches for different types of people you can network with. For example, you wouldn’t say the same things to a potential investor as to a potential service provider for your business.
Always tailor your conversations to each event and each person, and be sure to present yourself as professionally as possible.
Prepare and train
One of the biggest challenges for many people when it comes to networking is starting conversations with strangers. Here are some simple conversation starters that can help you feel more confident when approaching someone new:
- How long have you been in the cannabis industry?
- What were you doing before getting into the cannabis industry?
- How did you get into the cannabis industry?
- What do you do?
- Where do you work?
- Where do you come from?
- What is your favorite thing about the cannabis industry?
- What is your biggest challenge working in this industry?
- What made you decide to come to this event?
- What are you most looking forward to doing or seeing at this event?
- Have you been to this event before? Last year? Last month?
- Have you ever visited this place/city?
Remember that when you’re networking, you should try to build relationships through your conversations, not business opportunities. Try to be helpful and helpful without focusing on closing a deal. Also, think about your body language and actions while networking. Ask questions, smile and make eye contact. If name tags have been given, wear your own and use other people’s names when talking to them.
Most importantly, don’t start networking until you’ve practiced your conversation starters, icebreaker introduction, and elevator pitch for a variety of people and situations.
Set goals and make a plan
You need to set clear goals and develop a plan to achieve those goals for each networking opportunity or event you attend. For example, you can set a goal to talk to a certain number of grow license holders or meet a specific cannabis industry influencer. .
In order to develop your goals and plans, you will need to research each event you will be attending in advance and have an idea of who will be there, the purpose of the event, and who the event is for. This is crucial so you can tailor your goals, plan, icebreaker introduction, and elevator pitch to be as relevant and useful as possible.
Network before and after the events
Use social media to enhance and expand your face-to-face networking efforts before, during, and after every event you attend. Connect with event organizers and key people on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. Share event-related content, use event hashtags, and tag people in your posts. Also post photos, videos and messages from the event.
While attending a cannabis conference, be sure to attend all scheduled networking events, but don’t stop there. Talk to people at lunches and dinners, talk to people on the show floor, and make yourself as accessible and approachable as possible.
At the end of each day at a networking event, take time to debrief. Review the people you have spoken with and make a plan to follow up with them. Be sure to follow and engage with them on social media and send personalized email messages to continue your conversations.
If you don’t have time to immediately email everyone you connected with at a networking event, be sure to take notes on the back of each business card or in a document to remember who they were, what you talked about and the topics. you want to chat with them in the future.
Ideally, you should follow up with each person within days of meeting them or within a week at most. In your follow-up messages, mention something to remind them of who you are, then try to arrange phone calls or in-person meetings with important business connections.
The key to following up is to be friendly and genuine. This means that you don’t have to send template messages to everyone you’ve met through your email marketing software. Instead, send personalized messages directly to each person. Now is the time for one-on-one outreach, not mass emailing.
Once you’ve connected with each person on social media, start sharing and commenting on their posts. As the psychological theory known as simple exposure effect shows, it’s important to repeatedly expose people to you and the value you bring in order to increase the chances that they’ll end up liking you.
Just be careful not to oversell too early. You’ll get better long-term results if you focus on building relationships and adding value to conversations. The time to sell will come later.
Key Takeaways About Networking In The Cannabis Industry
Remember that the cannabis industry is like other industries when it comes to business networking. Understand the industry, learn about the challenges facing cannabis professionals, and present yourself as a helpful resource. In time, you will build relationships through networking that will turn into lucrative career and business opportunities.
To network successfully, follow the tips above and focus on preparation, goal setting, practice, and follow-up. To learn even more, be sure to read 5 Ways to Succeed at Cannabis Business Meetings and Networking Events.
To connect with cannabis and hemp licensees, subscribe to the Cannabiz Media Licensing Database. Schedule a demo to see how it can help you network and achieve your goals.
Originally published 6/18/19. Updated 2/4/22.
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