Cannabis Conferences: Making the Most of your Visit

Hello all! Long-time no chat! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Spring and looking forward to the official start to summer in about a month's time.

I'd like to start by listing a few cannabis conferences that are coming up: 

1) HempFest Cannabis Expo (19+)

a) Hamilton, Ontario

This event is running Saturday, June 1st and Sunday, June 2nd and will feature exhibitors and speakers focusing on various aspects of the Hemp and Cannabis industries.

b) Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Live in the prairies and can't make it out to the GTA? No problem! This event is also being held at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon!

2) Lift & Co. Cannabis Expo - Toronto, Ontario (19+)

This event is running over 4 days with 3 specific facets. The first is running on June 6th exclusively with a business focus: The Lift & Co. Cannabis Business Conference. The second portion runs on June 7th exclusively: The Expo Industry Day. The final portion of the expo is the Consumer Weekend on June 8th and 9th. Important to note that tickets for both the Cannabis Business Conference and the Expo Industry Day also include admittance to the Consumer Weekend. If you're going, be sure to shoot me a DM (@emilene_ on IG) as I would love to meet you. 

3) MJBizConNext - New Orleans (21+)

This summit is for cannabis business executives, cultivators and extractors leading their craft. It will feature specialized workshops for innovators in their respective fields as well as a special nightly celebration allowing individuals and groups that help drive the cannabis industry to applaud their accomplishments and have fun living like a local!

These are just the first three conferences I could think of, but there are plenty to choose from and I encourage you to scope out the scene on your preferred news source! 

Now, how does one make the most of their experience at an expo, summit or conference? Navigating the waters of a conference or event can be daunting. I've had the chance to partake in several conferences over the past couple of months and wanted to share my two-cents (RIP Canadian pennies) on how I've learned to make the most of my attendance at events. 

1) Plan ahead! Often, event websites will include an exhibitors list. If there's a company you are interested in working for or an influencer you are dying to meet, do your homework! Getting to know the exhibitor map, where they will be located and some background information to spark a conversation is a great place to start. It can be advantageous, whenever possible, to equally reach out to persons of interest to let them know you would like to meet up. You may be surprised how quick some VIPs are to respond! Make sure you plan a few different scenarios,

however. Don't get caught up in meeting someone at a specific time and over-scheduling yourself unless you have had a precursory conversation about a meet-up time. No, you don't have to create a ridiculously complex flowchart contemplating every possible move but keep your options open and ensure you have a plan B to avoid disappointment. Another important part of planning is purchasing your ticket. If you can, try planning for conferences well in advance, you might even luck-out with an early-bird rate!

2) Consider food options and bring food with you if possible. There's nothing worse than buying a new to-go mug, 80 tea bags for $2.99 and then being forced to buy a 4-dollar orange pekoe at the concession stand a day later; not that I would know from experience... Travelling can take a toll on your body, but also on your cheque-book. A friendly reminder to try to stay away from single-use consumables at conferences, let's protect our environment and our savings!

3) Bring a bag! Although there are generally lots of re-useable bags to be given out at expos with lots of swag items, it is good practice to bring a light bag or tote to carry all of your goodies and information pamphlets. Again, we want to ensure we are part of the solution when it comes to climate justice, so please remember to keep mother nature in mind when picking up brochures and various consumables that may or may not end up in the garbage...

4) Record notes directly after a conversation. If you had a really insightful dialogue with someone, take a couple of minutes to jot key points down. If you are talking to someone you know or you feel comfortable asking, don't hesitate to request to record information to ensure you don't miss a beat when rehashing it to your colleagues back home. We often think that we will remember every single detail of a conversation by the time we get home, but this is seldomly the case.

5) Take public transit! If you can avoid driving into large metropolitan areas, especially ones you may not be overly familiar with, this will alleviate a lot of potential stress. This point is also attached to the environment; it can be disheartening to think of the carbon footprint some events create. Regardless of your mode of transportation, remember to make a little extra time for travel as many other attendees will most likely be arriving around the same time.

6) Lastly, create a before, during and after checklist. This is something I just started to incorporate into my routine, and it has been tremendously helpful for networking. Depending if you are attending an event for business or pleasure, the length of your lists may vary, but it is always a good idea to be well prepared and organized as you navigate through a conference. Your pre-event list can include things to pack, ticket confirmation numbers as well as research points you want to look-up on companies or individuals before attending the event. The during-the-event list can be brief, but a great habit to ensure you maximize your day. Don't get discouraged if you do not complete everything on your list; be ambitious but reasonable based on the length of the conference and size of the exhibition space. Your post event list can include people you want to thank (post-event follow-ups are a great opportunity to network with newfound connections), a final checklist of things you brought with you that you don't want to forget at the venue and any deliverables you can bring back to your colleagues or friends.

Hopefully you found this list helpful and will incorporate one new organization technique to your conference-attending-routine. It is important to remember that we live in a powerful digital age where it sometimes may be easier to connect virtually than face-to-face. While it is difficult to replace live-interactions, do not stress if you do not accomplish everything you want to at an event - it may even be an annual one!


Emilene, The Feminist of Cannabis

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