Cannabis event season 2019 is upon us! As the industry grows bigger and grows up, companies and professionals are increasingly attending, exhibiting, or speaking at cannabis conferences meant to connect those in the industry in ways that are more down-to-business than dabbing. At conferences from MJBizCon to Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition, attendees have the opportunity to rub elbows with politicians working on marijuana policy reform, entrepreneurs launching the next innovative products, and other industry insiders.
Once you’ve decided which cannabis conference to attend, you’ll next need to think of everything you’ll need to make the most of the experience (and the conference registration fees). Below is a list of items every person/company should pack for a cannabis conference, including some of the common things people forget or don’t consider.
What to Pack for a Cannabis Event
Items That Make You Look Good
Band-Aids: You will be on your feet most of the day, so take care of blisters before they worsen. Your feet will thank you.
Water: Avoid the overpriced convention hall vending machines or stale tasting drinking fountains by bringing your own refillable drinking bottle.
Lint roller: Keep yourself looking professional and tidy.
Gum: Bad breath makes for a bad first impression.
A snack: Depending on the meals offered at the conference, a granola bar or other grab-and-go snack is a good way to curb hunger and keep you energized for the long days. Plus, networking is even harder if you’re hangry.
Printed or digital itinerary/map: The venue is going to feel overwhelming and so will the schedule. Do some homework beforehand so you know what you want to see and where to find it.
Items That Make Your Company Look Good
Extension Cord/Power strip/Chargers: Whether your booth display requires an outlet or you need your phone battery to last 48 hours, don’t forget the tech accessories that will keep things running smoothly. Solar powered phone chargers make for good backups if you can’t find an outlet and your phone is at 2%.
Business cards: Whether or not you toss them into the recycling bin as soon as you return to your office, people at a cannabis event will give you their business cards and they will expect you to do the same. They may seem retro in our digital age, but they remain the standard for a quick exchange of information in a professional setting.
Scissors/tape/zip ties: Putting together a worthwhile display at your conference booth means you’ll need plenty of office supplies to hold it all together.
A mailing list: Ask people to sign it in exchange for a raffle ticket or some other incentive. Where else will you encounter so many of your industry’s peers in one place? This is the time to take down names and email addresses to make sure your new connections become followers and eventually customers.
Pens: Don’t forget the pens! You’ll need them for your mailing list and to write down any notes. Be prepared for people to walk away with them too, so keep back ups.
Swag: People attend conferences with the expectation that they’ll leave with something branded. It can be a basic bookmark or postcard with your company’s information or maybe something more exciting, like branded ashtrays or fanny packs, but regardless how far outside the collateral box you go, make sure people who come to your table leave with something that will help them remember your company when they leave the exhibition hall.
Print this out and use it as a packing list as you prepare to attend your next cannabis event. But your business cards and collateral will only get you so far. There are other necessary items you’ll want to bring with you that are more about attitude than accessories.
Items That Are Intangible (But Just as Important):
Confidence: Whether you’re roaming the exhibition floor solo and having to approach a table of strangers or you’re behind it and need to engage with the tired masses shuffling from one swag table to the next, you’re going to have to talk to new people.
Sincerity: There’s nothing worse than networking for networking’s sake, and if you’re faking interest in the person you’re talking to or the event as a whole, chances are people can tell. Find common ground so you can connect with new people in a genuine way.
A List of Goals: Before you attend a conference ask yourself what you hope to achieve from it. This allows you to align your outcomes to your expectations. Did you want to learn something new at the conference? Attend as many panels as possible. Are you hoping to connect with new people? Attend the mixers and other networking events. Scope out the competition? Carve out plenty of time to walk the exhibition floor and ask those who are tabling questions. Conferences can feel overwhelming. But if you set your goals far enough in advance, you’ll give yourself a North Star to guide you through the stress and fatigue.