When isolated by geography or spending most of your time in your cannabis garden and/or office, it’s easy to miss out on the benefits of networking—new ideas, information and opportunities, and especially support.
To some, networking may elicit images of businesspeople with name tags that say, “Hello, my name is …,” standing around awkwardly, trying to engage with new people. But to others, networking simply means building a net that can not only catch you when you fall but help propel you to new levels of success.
I have reaped the benefits of networking both professionally and personally. Shortly after I launched Cannabis Business Times, I brought on our first editorial advisory board member, Ken Morrow of Trichome Technologies. Ken helped steer the fledgling magazine’s editorial direction, as well as the launch of our Cannabis Conference (formerly the Cannabis Cultivation Conference). He has introduced me to so many amazing people in this industry and has served as a pillar of support throughout the past four years.
As we brought on other valued editorial advisory board members (you can see them on our masthead), our net strengthened further. We have built connections with experts in cannabis cultivation and business, mainstream agriculture and university researchers. (On that note, this seems like the perfect time to share that we are thrilled to introduce Dr. Brian E. Jackson, Associate Professor, Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University, and Dr. Brian Whipker, Professor of Floriculture at North Carolina State University, as our newest editorial advisory board members!)
Through the Cannabis Conference, we have gotten to meet so many people whose passion for and knowledge of this industry serve as both sounding boards and sources of inspiration.
While making time to meet people can be difficult, it is how the team at CBT will find the next great columnist, the next Cannabis Conference speaker, or the next pillar of support. And, hey, hopefully we can help people along the way.
I recently explored this topic with Robert Eddy, CBT columnist, director of Ag Projects for Michigan’s Core Cannabis, and former Plant Growth Facilities Manager at Purdue University, who we initially “discovered” on LinkedIn. Robert so eloquently summed up what I was thinking: “I have built many relationships in the industry without ... worrying too much where they lead. So long as the person is a positive spirit, and we are contributing to each other’s knowledge, then it has value,” he told me. “You just never can predict what a serendipitous moment can do for your career—if you pay attention. I’ve made important contacts at the Cannabis Conference or even online through LinkedIn or email that have been rewarding. I’m also in the last decade of my career and recognize that I’ll remember these relationships much longer than any particular technological achievement or beautiful crop I’ve grown. Life is with people.”
I also delved into this concept with David Holmes—a well-known breeder and founder/CEO of Clade9—who also is on our advisory board and a returning speaker at Cannabis Conference. He said: “Information in the cannabis industry has historically been passed through interpersonal communication, mainly to avoid the long arm of the law. Although cannabis laws are changing, and digital communication is critical to success, face-to-face networking in the cannabis industry is still most effective. Most of the important relationships I have built in the industry have stemmed from random meetings at events or conferences.”
So, while it can seem impossible to take time away from your crops or your office and the piles of work that surround you, the next stranger you talk to might become your new industry resource, business partner, or friend. Maybe it’s time to meet them.