Five Tips for Making the Most Out of Conferences

Industry conferences and expos are a whirlwind. From miles-long exhibitor halls to late-night after-parties, these high-powered events are similar to a marathon with lots of ground to cover in a short amount of time.

But in addition to the sore feet and time commitment, there’s also the financial factor. Bottom line: trade shows are expensive in more ways than one, so you must see a return on investment.

The Cannabis & Tech Today team has attended hundreds of cannabis events over the years. Our expert tips for surviving trade show season will ensure you make the most of your experience — and have fun while you’re at it.

Set Your Intention

Before booking that ticket to the big show, make sure you know your “why.” Are you trying to get leads? Create more brand awareness? Perhaps you just want to learn. 

Whatever your goals are, make sure you name them before liftoff. It will also help you determine whether the show served its purpose — and may impact your decision to attend next year.

Make an Agenda — But Keep It Flexible

The schedule of events during a conference can be overwhelming; there are a million and one things to do. Between panels, networking happy hours, and team dinners, it may seem like you’re being pulled in every direction.

Much like setting your intention, you’ll want to note which moments make your can’t-miss list. And while you may be tempted to say “yes” to everything, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, so be realistic when setting your calendar. Also, be sure to go easy on yourself if things change at the last second. Dinners go long, traffic gets bad — so plan plenty of buffers and keep your crew in the loop.

Pack Snacks and Water (and a Portable Charger)

Trade shows move fast. There’s often little time to eat — and food may be scarce altogether (and overpriced). Given that you’re constantly on your feet, you need sustenance if you want to last.

As soon as you arrive at your destination, head to the closest grocery or drug store and grab some high-protein snacks like nuts and beef jerky. Pick up a few jugs of water and refill your reusable bottle regularly. Your body will thank you later, as will your pocketbook since you’ll avoid raiding your high-priced hotel minibar.

Having a portable charging bank is also a must. Your phone battery will almost certainly be drained by midday, and finding a place to plug in on the move is challenging.

Dress Practically

Speaking of moving, you’ll be doing a lot of it. Wear sensible shoes, as blisters will slow you down. Sneakers can be professional when paired with the right ‘fit, so don’t be scared to go casual in the footwear department.

It’s also important to pack layers. Climates can change dramatically from day to night, so be prepared.

Have a Post-Show Strategy

Congratulations, you got through the show! Connections were made, great times were had — now it’s time to ensure all your hard work pays off. The number of business cards and LinkedIn requests you’ve collected means nothing if you don’t follow through.

Organize your new contacts and set about sending quick emails to each person. If you use sales software, upload this precious data ASAP. Your next big opportunity may be in that pile of cards, so don’t delay.

Conferences are essential to market your brand and connect with the community. As long as you have a plan, plenty of snacks, and a positive attitude, you’ll likely bring home a win. ϖ

This article first appeared in Volume 5 Issue 3 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.

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