How To Survive Advertising Week

The following also is my latest column in MediaPost.

How To Survive Advertising Week

If you work in marketing, media or advertising, you can’t escape Advertising Week! The glut of festivities – taking place this year from Sept. 22 to 26 – bills itself as “North America’s largest and most prestigious gathering of industry decision-makers.” I don’t think it’s the most prestigious, but the week’s volume of events is certainly overwhelming. It’s even impossible to escape the conferences and other programs that come immediately before and after – if you live in New York, like me, it’s a beehive.

With so much activity and so many stakeholders, it’s worthwhile to invest time and resources in Advertising Week. That may include attending, presenting, sponsoring, networking or even programming original events. While there are many ways to participate, the most common way will be individuals attending various conferences. But there’s one caveat: with so much going on, it’s easy to get lost and squander opportunity.

So how does one extract the greatest value from Advertising Week? Here are seven tips:

1. Plan carefully. First, make a plan. Decide exactly how much time you’re going to devote and what your budget is. Identify which events are relevant and worthwhile based on your objectives. Some events are expensive, while some are more content-rich and exclusive. One thing’s for sure: there’s a heck of a lot of overlap in content, including panels, keynoters, b-level presenters and even sponsors.

2. Apply the Rule Of Thirds to your itinerary. Dedicate one-third of your time to content, such as attending conference programming, seminars and presentations; one-third to pre-scheduled meetings with customer prospects, partners and other key stakeholders; and one-third to impromptu networking in the hallways. I find this achieves the best balance for learning new things, nurturing existing relationships and building new ones.

3. Eliminate distractions. It’s difficult, but do try to disconnect from your usual workflow and flood of interactivity. Many people justify attending industry events and conferences by staying connected, typically by BlackBerry. But the fact is you absorb far less learning and networking when your head is buried in text messaging or Microsoft Outlook. Be disciplined with your time, and commit fully.

4. Take good notes. Taking notes forces you to focus and absorb content and personal interactions with greater precision. If you don’t take copious notes, you’ll tend to forget what you learned, stymie network connections, and fail to channel value to your business.

5. Pace yourself. Don’t try to cram in too many things or you’ll spread yourself thin. Instead, try to make a few programs and meetings more worthwhile. Importantly, restrain yourself from too much unhealthy food and alcoholic beverages. And don’t forget to rest. If you’re not coherent, it makes for a bad experience – one where you’re recovering versus maximizing.

6. Use it or lose it. Advertising Week and its offerings are perishable, so develop takeaways and act on them decisively. If you learned something valuable, immediately apply it to your business, or use it as a launching pad for further exploration. If you met interesting people, develop a follow-up plan and execute it while receptivity is hot. But don’t procrastinate. Time will quickly pass and your window of opportunity will disappear.

7. Keep it in perspective. The thing about the marketing industry is there’s no shortage of programs and events – you’ll find yourself in the next one in the blink of an eye. For that reason, don’t get overwhelmed by Advertising Week. And if you happen to miss (or avoid) the gathering, don’t worry: you certainly haven’t missed the boat.

8. Enjoy yourself. I’m in my industry because it’s fun and intellectually stimulating. It’s a business I enjoy with others and one where I can make a difference. While we could do without the corny icon parade, Advertising Week brings a lot of similar-minded people together.

How do you plan to survive Advertising Week?

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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