New York Advertising Week, which starts on Sept. 28, has become a celebrity fest. This year’s featured speakers include everyone from Sir Martin Sorrell, who is an authentic advertising executive, to the hip hop artist Chingy. Also included is Pete Cashmore, the legendary founder and CEO of Mashable, who has guided that property from tech blog to global media player as the online industry has developed.
But if you are really in the industry, Advertising Week can be a big waste of time unless your goal is to drink as many free drinks as you can down every evening. Here’s how to do it right and learn something along the way:
1) Take a look at the calendar before you even register.
2) Decide whether you want to learn or network. We usually attend for a little of both, but the schedule for learning can we overwhelming.
3)Try to future-proof yourself and your brand or agency by picking up on a new trend. Especially if you’re more experienced in the profession, you will want to try something you know nothing about, such as neuroscience and how it affects brands. Here’s one panel you might want to attend if you are a creative: How Advertising Works: Building a Brand in the Brain. If big data was last year’s trend, we predict neuroscience will be next year’s.
4) If you are looking to meet a specific company and they’ve got a speaker, you can establish a non-alcoholic relationship by going to the speaker’s presentation. Let’s assume you’re interested in mobile video (we are, since we sell mobile video formats). You might want to attend the Cross Screen Summit to meet the CSO of TubeMogul. Another good feature of attending that panel is the time of day: at the end of what could be a work day and right before the parties.
There is usually a moment or two for questions at the end of sessions, and some speaker contact information. Jump on this opportunity by asking a question, and jot down the contact info. Then send an email or a tweet complimenting the speaker on the presentation.
5) Attend at least one presentation on Disruption, because it’s the keyword of the day. Even if you have a job today, there’s no guarantee who you will tomorrow. At least know what’s going on. A good disruption presentation to attend might be Managing Distruption at the end of the week, if you can get up early in the morning. Of course if you are a silver or platinum delegate, you really ought to attend the Reuters TV Leadership breakfast immediately before it. Perhaps just pull an all-nighter and prepare to sneak in by arriving very early. The subject is the death of advertising.
6) Bring business cards to all events, and dispense them liberally even though they’re potentially meaningless. Your purpose in giving out the cards is to collect one in return, and to enter that card in whatever contact management solution you use. Why? Because the way advertising is shaking itself up lately, you can’t know too many people. If they’re not somewhere today where they can be helpful, they may be next year.
7) After the week is over, get a good weekend’s rest and on Sunday night send out emails to all the people you have met and collected cards from. Suggest coffee, drinks, or lunch, at which you can talk about what you have learned.
8) If you are senior in the business, do not ignore these basic (and to you, somewhat cliched) suggestions. Taking them for granted may land you in an unemployment line, replaced by a Millennial.