Business-to-business (B2B) cannabis conferences are an extremely useful resource for cannabis entrepreneurs at any stage of launching and/or operating their business. Whether you are attending your first-ever cannabis conference this year or you are returning to the events circuit after a pandemic-driven hiatus, this is a guide to help you get the most out of your ticket.
Setting your expectations
While cannabis consumption is not necessarily prohibited at these B2B conferences (although it frequently is, due to either state law or restrictions set by the hosting venue), these are not typically consumption-focused events. It is important to set this expectation so neither you nor anyone on your team is surprised or disappointed with their event experience.
That said, it’s not like attendees are going to be offended by some light cannabis use and you’re unlikely to be ostracized if someone spies you sipping on a vape pen outside (note: this can of course vary to a degree, depending on the city and/or venue). The bottom line is that one must “know thyself” — i.e. make your own call on consumption. Just remember that most of the people attending these events are either there on the clock as a representative for their company or brand, or they are there to both develop themselves professionally and expand their industry knowledge.
Our last tip here is to consider saving your smoking circles for the after-parties! (More on those, later).
Endless opportunities to learn
B2B cannabis events offer a wealth of educational opportunities including keynote speaker presentations and topic-specific seminars featuring industry experts at the top of their fields. Such seminars also typically end with open Q&A sessions so you can get answers to your questions directly from the masters of their craft. Some events even offer roundtable discussions where you can get your answers in a more intimate/efficient setting — but if not, there is plenty of opportunity for gathering peer-to-peer knowledge by networking on the exhibition floor!
The latest trends on display
From advanced robotics to the latest in grow light technology, the cannabis space is a petri dish for innovation and cannabis industry events are where service providers and inventors go to show off their latest goods. You never know what you’re going to see; it could be the latest development in nano-emulsification technology, the newest fish-based fertilizer to hit the market, or something way out of left field — like a fleet of flying robots to monitor your massive industrial hemp crop — if it’s new and successful, it’s going to be a hit for the industry.
Business-to-business cannabis conferences are often where these trends are first proven or discovered.
Exhibiting your brand
While attendees obviously stand to gain a lot from their trip to a cannabis conference, there are also enormous benefits to being an exhibitor at one of these events. The ability to put your brand and/or product face-to-face with hundreds if not thousands of potential purchasers can be worth the asking price of exhibition alone, but there are other advantages.
“Networking” at these events, for example, is often more than just meeting new people or collecting business cards — some businesses at these shows are conducting wholesale purchases on the exhibition floor, signing new partnerships, meeting and securing investors, and more. Even though they may have paid for admission or an exhibition booth, a particularly successful conference will generate huge savings for a brand in the long run due to these special opportunities.
Some tips for networking
Nearly everyone at a B2B cannabis conference is going to be after the same thing: expanding their knowledge of the industry and pursuing new, fruitful partnerships.
Here are some final tips to consider as we return to the B2B events circuit:
- You’re going to see more ancillary businesses on display — such as accountants, insurance agents, packaging firms, security consultants, etc. — than you will actual cannabis entrepreneurs (and that’s by design). People in attendance, however, are much more likely to be “touch-the-plant” entrepreneurs, or at least considering such a career.
- Cannabis is going mainstream, so don’t be surprised to encounter representatives from the more “mainstream” brands you would find in any other industry. They might even be attending their first-ever cannabis industry event, so be friendly and say “hello” — they are probably just as excited as you!
- Don’t forget about the after-parties! There is an impressive amount of business networking that goes on during the after-hour parties that inevitably crop up around a B2B cannabis conference. Keep your eyes and ears out if this sounds like something you would enjoy — lots of times, these parties will be arranged by brands who are local to the area, and sometimes even by the event coordinators themselves.
Our final recommendation is simply to remember to approach each event with a goal or list of goals that you hope to achieve. Whether it’s finding some new investment dollars, connecting with a staffing agency, or just learning more about the cannabis cultivation process from experts at the top of their field, cannabis industry conferences are an excellent and exciting resource.
Bottom line: in-person events are back! It’s time to make your plan and get back to doing business.
National Cannabis Bureau
Author: terry roston