Advice To Maximize Experience At ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference

April 27, 2017

By Bill Duggan

We asked past conference chairs the question, "How should an attendee to the ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference maximize his/her experience at the conference?" We received some great advice, focused on networking, learning from the content, and having fun.


  • Networking...networking...networking!
  • Connect with people outside your industry category and outside your comfort zone.
  • Don't eat lunch or breakfast at least once with people you know. Go look for a table of unfamiliar faces. Sit down. Introduce yourself. Enjoy it.
  • Break away from company colleagues and other familiar faces by making a concerted effort to meet new folks.
  • Use the attendee book to find people you want to connect with and then log into the app and see if they comment and connect with them that way.
  • Meet as many people as you can. Sit at different tables for the meals, sit in a different spot each day for the presentations.
  • Ask colleagues (both vendor and client) about new models, measurements, and technologies. Make it a point to seek out companies and rock stars that inspire you and follow up discussions frequently after the conference. 
  • Connect with other colleagues and friends — talk work, talk best practice, brainstorm.
  • Find your peers and ask questions about their recent success; talk to industry veterans to better understand trends. Build a network of folks to stay in touch with. 
  • Connect with people on LinkedIn and follow up after the conference.
  • Use the conference as an opportunity to build your brand and awareness with industry colleagues.


  • Breakfasts, including the round-table discussions, are probably the most underrated set of sessions.
  • Take advantage of the seminars and sessions — the content is great and very valuable.
  • Hone in on the 2-3 main discussed themes that will resonate most when you return to your organization and make those learnings actionable.
  • Tweet, share on LinkedIn, comment via the app.
  • Ask questions using the #ANAAFM hashtag
  • If you truly want a question answered during the Q&A, gather the courage to use the open microphones
  • There is one opportunity a year where you can learn, discuss and influence the issues facing your company and the industry, with peers, solution providers, and agency executives. That opportunity is the ANA Advertising Financial Management Annual Conference. 
  • Attendees should remember where they are. I mean that when I was chair, it forced me to actively listen and take some notes so I could engage with the Q&A and conversations over lunch and evening activities. In previous conferences, I had my laptop and was partially in the room and partially at my desk; it wasn't nearly as valuable. I didn't remember the content as well and didn't take the time to contemplate and react to it. 
  • Take advantage of all the wisdom in the room to grow and develop; I'm many years in and still learning.


  • Take advantage of the supplier booths to learn latest trends.
  • Leverage non-programmed time to connect with potential partners / suppliers that align with your most immediate priorities (production management, audit, etc.).
  • Plan meetings ahead of time (if you can), in between presentations during breaks, for breakfast, lunch dinner during downtime.


  • We all need down time and this is when the best ideas come to mind, so make time to have fun with your peers and see what great nuggets you leave with.
  • Have fun! It's the one time of year to get away from the office, collaborate with your peers, learn from industry thought-leaders, and enjoy the atmosphere. 
  • Have fun and laugh!

Thanks to the following past conferences chairs, noting their current companies and the year they chaired the conference:
Tracy Allery, Hershey (2016)
Mary Ann Brennan, Mattel (2013)
Terri Burns, Aflac (2014)
Brett Colbert, MDC Partners (2011)
Kimberly Courtney, MillerCoors (2006)
Francisco Escobar, JFE International Consultants (2003)
Antonio Humphreys, Adobe (2016)
Sal Vitale, Mondelez (2014)
Hiten Patel, Merck (2007)
Mike Thyen, Eli Lilly & Company (2005)
Sherry Ulsh, Hershey (2000)

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