As if building your network and marketing yourself in the cannabis industry wasn’t already challenging enough, COVID has certainly compounded the issue now that face-to-face meetups are out of the question. Luckily, the Vangst Network is making it easier than ever to connect and communicate with other cannabis pros and employers who can help you fuel your career trajectory. We tapped the collective knowledge of the expert recruiters here at Vangst and came up with these actionable tips you can use.
1. Be honest and upfront about your work experience.
When it comes to networking and interviewing, there’s nothing worse for either party than wasting time. So be upfront with potential cannabis connections, recruiters, and employers about what you can and can’t offer. Being transparent about your career goals and your applicable skills and experience means you’ll find better career connections faster - with less fallout along the way.
2. Your profile is your opportunity to pitch yourself
One of the biggest misses we recruiters at Vangst see is when members don’t spend time polishing their profile. Your Vangst profile is more than a resume; it’s an opportunity to stand out against thousands of other qualified pros and show cannabis employers what makes you, well, you! Employers look for personality and culture fit when they interview, so reason stands they’ll certainly look for it when checking out your profile, too.
3. Be purposeful with your cold outreach
Remember: You only ever get one first impression. So when you’re engaging in cold networking outreach, make sure it counts. Be intentional with your outreach, show that you’ve taken the time to learn something about your new potential contact, and look to find common ground that is meaningful to you and your target contact.
4. Be prepared to speak about your relationship to the plant
It’s the second time we’ve said it, but again, be honest! Any Vangst recruiter will tell you that “grey market’ or non-regulated cannabis experience can actually be a huge asset when it comes to getting started with a plant-touching role in the legal market. If you’re in a legal market now, and have past experience that is valuable to a potential employer or contact, don’t be afraid to share it while also emphasizing that your career goals are to find success in the legal market, not something below the line.
5. Lean into local
If you want to network, it first helps to start local - especially since where you currently live is most likely where you want to make your next great career move. The Vangst Network is a great place to start because it’s not only the industry’s largest community of cannabis-minded professionals and employers, it’s easy to search local professionals and companies in your state.
6. Volunteer your time
Volunteering your time and expertise is a great way to productively network in any industry, especially in cannabis. If you have a skillset or expertise you can readily offer, build your network by contributing these assets. A few free or contract-based hours of consulting, event volunteer work, social media engagement, or credited content creation can go a long way in establishing credibility with the dialed-in cannabis teams. Need proof? Many of our own Vangst family members started off as interns or consultants!
7. Commit to a cause
Beyond volunteering your professional services, there are countless opportunities to build your cannabis network by getting involved with social justice and community-building efforts. Last Prisoner Project, for example, offers valuable hands-on volunteer opportunities, from re-entry mentorship to letter-writing campaigns to event participation. Check out our ongoing list of social equity and social justice resources for other ways to get connected, make a difference, and give back those who deserve it most.
8. Scout out your favorite companies and brands
A lot of networking is simply about staying up-to-date on what’s hot in the market. Have a couple of companies you’d love to work for? Follow them with company updates via the Vangst Network, stay connected via their social handles, and attend virtual events and panels featuring company employees and fans. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re first in line for new employment and relationship-building opportunities that arise.
9. Be honest and ask questions
The cannabis community is one that is never done collectively learning. We are young, fast-evolving, and always changing. A lot of the best contacts you’ll make will likely arise from simply being curious, engaged, and open to learning. If you see a conversation that piques your interest or you’re intrigued by a potential contact’s cannabis experience, jump in and ask more about it! Oh, and... nudge-nudge, wink-wink, stay tuned for new upcoming features from Vangst in the new year that will make it easier than ever to build conversation with like-minded cannabis pros.
10. Asking for advice can lead to a job
On the topic of being curious, seeking knowledge instead of employment is a way to learn more about the industry and evaluate where your skills and ambitions fit within it. A great secondary benefit? Asking smart, thoughtful questions of hiring managers and employer contacts who are open to sharing their wisdom is a pretty great way to impress them with your listening skills.
11. Talk about regulations and rules with your previous employment
The cannabis industry is strictly governed and the regulatory landscape changes rapidly. If you can show that you have a strong understanding of how to operate within a highly regulated industry, you’ll certainly stand out within your network and regulatory-minded leaders in the space may be more inclined to loop you into the conversation.
12. Try to find someone that made the industry transition that resembles your background
If you want to cross over to cannabis from a completely different industry, look to connect with someone who has made a similar journey successfully. Check out profile details and past work experience to find cannabis pros who share your career background and can give you practical advice on what worked for them when crossing over.
13. Get the lay of the land
It’s really hard to network and ask for employment when you’re completely in the dark about an industry. So sign up for newsletters and other informational outlets so you can come out swinging during a conversation. Some of our favorites are Bud Bros and, of course, the Vangst Insider!
14. Networking past the "no"
Cannabis is competitive; hundreds of applications come in for a single job. Remember that not getting the job doesn't always mean that you’re not qualified, it just means to keep trying. A great way to do this is to keep ongoing relationships going with hiring managers or employers who may have passed you over the first time. This is such a small industry, you will see them again.
15. Act excited
If you haven’t gotten it yet, the cannabis industry is competitive. Candidates that truly rise to the top aren’t just ones with great resumes, they are professionals that are truly excited about the cooperative potential of the cannabis industry. Most people you meet in cannabis have some specific motive that got them there; whether it is a medicinal knowledge of the plant, a family member that was cured by the plant, or some ethical drive to eradicate injustice, the industry is full of people using their powers for good! Don’t give cookie cutter answers about ‘being excited about industry growth,’ but instead find your reason to be here, and fight with all your might to push that goal forward with the help of equally-skilled and driven colleagues whom you’ll certainly meet along the way - if you follow the tips above.
At the end of the day, it may be true that getting started in a new industry is all about “who you know,” but building up your community doesn’t have to be a daunting exercise. In fact, when you find yourself in good company, networking can be more than effective - it can be fun.
Ready to get your own cannabis networking journey started? Join the Vangst Network and start building your own professional cannabis community today.
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