Actually, if you went last year, this would be your second time around. But the "experienced" have a little bit of an advantage that others may not have: a strategy to navigate the energy, excitement and sheer weight of round after round of A-list and influential people on stage sharing their wisdom and insight.
And there may very well be a strategy that people have perfected related to the evening extravaganzas that make Advertising Week Europe so special.
I have been involved with Advertising Week since 2007 -- starting with the 4th iteration of the event in New York City and there is a visual that may be apt.
Imagine a big package of custard cremes sitting in front of you, and you eat every single one with your cuppa. Sure, it might have been undeniably tasty, but chances are you feel a little overwhelmed and, frankly, tired.
I learned very quickly that, aside from the potential to become exhausted, there are four things to think about as you're planning that are: emotional, educational, practical and physical.
The first thing to understand about Advertising Week Europe is that there is an accessibility to it that's unlike any other conference you may have attended. You will rub shoulders with some of the very top people in the industry. Everyone comes together in a truly welcoming setting with an egalitarian feel, even if job titles and experiences are different.
Don't be intimidated. If you are younger or just starting out in your career, it could very well be overwhelming to see so many CEOs and MDs in one place. If you happen to find yourself in the position where this happens, don't be shy. Introduce yourself. Share what you do and what you're about. It may very well just be a brief moment in time but, done right, it could be that moment that matters to you and your career.
Another key aspect to this is fun. Have it. Don't look at this as "work" but rather a wonderful opportunity that's been laid out in front of you. If you think of it as work, you may scrunch up (American term) your face and miss a chance to truly revel in the fun of, not just the week, but the industry in general. Put yourself in fun mode. And, if this actually does get you out of work, well then that's just a bonus now, isn't it?
Finally, you will be inspired. There is no getting around this. In America, I've seen the young, hip set, hellbent on being cool, walk out of sessions completely transformed. And these jolts of inspirational energy are constant. In looking at the agenda this time around in London, I guarantee that you will find plenty to inspire you both professionally and personally.
Part of our remit is to educate and inspire the industry. You'll get healthy doses of both. You will learn more than I think you'll even realise during this week -- not just about your specific field or sector, but the industry in general. The advise here is to spread yourself out a little bit so that you're attending sessions that may be outside of your particular "lane."
Know nothing about real-time-buying or programmatic? Good. You should go to a session or two to learn about it.
Haven't the faintest clue on print? Absolutely make it a point to get into some of those sessions to hear the women and men who are creating some amazing things.
Fancy learning more about creativity? Good. There are scads of sessions and workshops that will open up your perspective.
Never heard from some of the legends or A-listers of the industry? Queue up. You will walk out with an entirely new education.
Yes, you should be going to panels and workshops in your discipline, but when you open yourself up to the other sides of this business, you will not only potentially round out your point of view, but you will have some incredibly valuable ammunition. When the boss asks, "does anyone know anything about this?" and you raise your hand and talk about what you learned at Advertising Week Europe, you will be the hero.
I can smell the new position and raise from here.
I mentioned the sheer scope and breadth of people that will be in attendance that you may meet. Be prepared to engage in conversation with them. Yes, it's cool to tell people about what you do, but make sure that you give the other person a chance to tell you about themselves. These conversations may very well be five seconds or, if you're lucky, five minutes. Like any conversation, feel out the first few moments and go from there.
Since this is practical advise, think about your Advertising Week Europe "kit." Business cards are always good to have on hand. Mints are never a bad idea. Have a pen and something to write on that fits in your bag or pocket. Bring things that help prepare you for any contingency. This is why I bring extra contact lenses. True story. I lost one right in the middle of a sentence chatting with a CEO I was dying to meet. I held it together pretty well, but it was obvious that something had gone horribly wrong.
Always. Have. Water. Handy.
These are four words that merit not being part of a proper, complete sentence for a reason. You should always stay hydrated. You'll look up and it will be 17:00. And you'll be thirsty. Also, if you're planning on going to the Spotify Opening Gig or Microsoft Wrap Party, it's wise to prepare accordingly.
There are plenty of places near BAFTA 195 Piccadilly to grab some food. You will thank me for this piece of advise.
Finally, the physical side of all of this. It's rather simple, actually.
Pace yourself and rest up before the week starts.
The little side trip weekend to Ibiza can wait. You'll want to be in top form when things kick off early Monday morning. Sunday, 30 March, consider just chilling if you're not traveling in. If you're in London, take a nice walk, get a run in to invigourate yourself, maybe have a leisurely brunch at The Pavilion in Victoria Park.
By the time Thursday evening, 3 April rolls around, you'll be glad that you prepared by getting yourself physically ready for what comes your way.
The Final Word
This is going to be a hell of a great week and we're always happy to give you more advise whilst it's happening. Just tweet us at @AW_Europe and/or use the #AWEurope hashtag, and our highly experienced team, that has been here before, will always be willing to help.
Oh, and if you still haven't registered yet, go ahead and use this little link and we'll save you £100 on registration.
You can use that extra cash on your Ibiza trip.