More than 200 motivated cannabis business people gathered in Asbury Park this week for NJ Cannabis Insider’s first networking event since the legal weed market this spring.

“I’ve been coming to these [NJ Cannabis Insider] networking events since they launched four years ago. And it’s here, whether I’m introducing people to other people, or I’m introduced to someone new, it’s how I do my marketing,” said Stacey Udell, a partner at HBK CPAs who was among three speakers who talked about their business networking strategies at the July 14 event. “It’s how I grow my network.”

Fellow panelist Matha Figaro, the owner of cannabis edibles company ButACake, said it’s OK to be bold at these events. “What’s the worse that can happen? Somebody might say ‘no’ to you, and if they do, who cares? Somebody behind you is gonna say ‘yes.’ Just keep going. Keep shooting your shot.”

During a question-and-answer portion of the talk, Figaro asked audience members in the room to raise their hands if they were licensed retailers.

After individuals lifted their hands, she said, “If you’d like to do business with a retailer, here they are.” Several people immediately got up to slip their business cards into the hands of those who raised them. Figaro then went down a small list, sparking similar interest: cultivators, manufacturers, real estate agents, marketing, security, and so on.

Mollie Hartman Lustig, the cannabis chair at McLaughlin & Stern Law, rounded out the advice with this:

“Your network expands beyond this room. Your network is in every backyard barbecue that you have this summer. It’s in every pool party,” she said, “because you never know who is involved in this business — and not even who’s involved in this business but may be involved in an ancillary service that can help you with this business.”

Presented by Hance Construction, the sold-out networking session at The Asbury hotel’s indoor and outdoor banquet space hosted power players not only from New Jersey, but from around the region.

“I’ve been talking to people nonstop all night,” Hance told NJ Cannabis Insider toward the end of the gathering. The Hance Construction vendor space featured two large digital screens with QR codes and videos of cannabis facilities he built. “The turnout has been great.”

Hance Construction was recently recognized for Excellence in Commercial Building Operations, by NJ Cannabis Insider subscribers at its inaugural awards gala in June. In a Q&A for this week’s issue of NJ Cannabis Insider, Hance spoke about the challenges he sees new permit-holders face as towns put up barriers to entry and the real estate market boils.

“You know there is a process to build or to open up a facility in New Jersey,” he said, “and it doesn’t matter whether you’re building and opening a cannabis facility or a taco facility. You’ve got to go through all the steps.”

Other sponsors and vendors included, HBK CPAs & Valuations, Cova Software, McLaughlin & Stern law, UFCW, Treez, Zenco and U.S. Payment Services LLC.

Dozens of Garden State power players joined the serious networking session, including New Jersey CannaBusiness President Ed DeVeaux, Vice President Marianne Bays and board member Tara “Misu” Sargente, also owner of Blazin’ Bakery; Stockton University professor and entrepreneur Rob Mejia; Mike McQueeny, Foley Hoag cannabis chair and general counsel for the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association; Gary Cohen, CEO of Cova Software; Penni Wild, deputy executive director of the state Business Action Center; Lou Magazzu, owner of Magazzu Law; Hugh Giordano, Labor Union Representative at UFCW Local 360; Jill Cohen, owner of CannaBoss Lady; Gabriel Eustache, a partner and VP at Puffin; Susanna Short, NJCTA co-founder and industry consultant; Brett Goldman, partner at OCan Group; Nichelle Santos and Jeffrey Booker of CannaCoverage; Jack Palis, of the National Cannabis Risk Prevention Services; David Cunic, CEO of UCS Advisors; Tony Gallo, an executive Sapphire Risk Advisory Group; among others.

NJ Cannabis Insider is now working on its next conference, which will take place on Sept. 15 at the Crown Plaza in Princeton. Presented by Weedmaps, the all-day conference will put an emphasis on serving New Jersey’s micro-license holders.

“We’re billing our fall conference as a bootcamp for new businesses and an accelerator for cannabis companies that are already off the ground,” said Enrique Lavin, NJ Cannabis insider’s publisher and editor. “Instead of hosting panels with multiple speakers, we want to create more of a focused classroom setting with industry leaders as the educators. We want attendees to walk away with the tools, information and partners they need to succeed.”

As part of NJ Cannabis Insider’s commitment to supporting social equity, tickets for qualified minority-owned businesses will have deep discount to attend. For more information about the Sept. 15 conference, go here.

“As any insider who knows NJ Cannabis Insider will you, tickets sell out fast. Don’t wait until the last minute to register,” Lavin said.

In addition, NJ Cannabis Insider, in collaboration with Advance Local, is hosting a live virtual job fair July 25-27. The virtual employer booths will remain live through Aug. 23, allowing visitors to explore and apply to jobs at their convenience. More than 4,000 job-seekers attended the May hiring event. Register here.

NJ Cannabis Insider is a weekly subscriber-based online trade journal and events group produced by NJ Advance Media, which also publishes NJ.com, The Star-Ledger and other affiliated papers. Are you interested in the N.J. cannabis industry? Subscribe here for insider exclusives. Follow us on LinkedIn.


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