The cannabis industry is a hyper-connected, community-driven space. Conferences, parties, and networking events dominated the scene — that is until an unprecedented pandemic turned the world upside down. With so much riding on in-person experiences driving deal flow and innovation, what were those in the vertical to do?
Much like many other realms of society, the cannabis industry went virtual. Popular annual events like the National Cannabis Industry Organization (NCIA) Cannabis Business Summit and MJBizCon switched to online platforms. New events like Emerge Cannabis Conference and Whole Plant Expo were the buzz of cannabis social media, particularly the former in which attendees could create their own avatar and “walk” the expo floor, a time-honored and much anticipated part of the conference culture.
Evan Nison, Owner and Founder of NisonCo PR, said professionals across the supply chain crave interaction outside of work hours, for while the industry continues to chug along despite the on-going COVID-19 crisis, it leaves little room for cultivating relationships. His firm launched a successful series of monthly digital networking mixers which have become the talk of the town.
“When dispensaries were considered essential during the lockdowns it created an odd dynamic where half the industry was shut down and the other half was operating at maximum capacity; we realized there was a bigger need for networking to connect those dots than normal, and less opportunities to do it without conferences,” Nison told The Hive.
“We use a tool called ‘Ice Breaker’ that is a great solution to digital networking, and we have had amazing feedback about our events. Many people told us they’ve made meaningful connections on them and attendance continues to climb. We invite everyone in the industry or legalization movement to join us.”
When will in-person events return to the cannabis industry? Time will only tell, but until then, these virtual experiences are helping push the space forward from home offices around the world.