Top Seven Tips For Meeting With Your Lawmakers
The 2019 Impact Washington Summit is right around the corner and many are getting ready to make lasting connections in meetings with lawmakers and Congressional staff that can affect policy for years to come. How do you make meetings like these, and with your own local government, as effective as they can be?
We’ve compiled the top seven most important tips for effective citizen advocacy.
Prepare ahead of time.
Before you get started, make sure to take some time to understand the issues and what we’re asking the office to act on. The “ask” (the action you’d like the official to take) will be very important later on. Have any questions? Our advocacy team is here to help!
Appreciate meetings with staff.
While meeting with elected officials is a hallmark of coming to Washington, legislative staff are the backbone of Congress. Not only are these policy experts very well versed on the issues, their recommendations are highly valued by the legislators.
Tell your story.
Most advocates feel they need to detail the raw facts and figures to make their case. But the most effective message you can deliver is a story about how your business is affected by todays laws, or the effects our proposed changes would have on it. Speak from the heart.
Make your “ask”.
You’ve had a great conversation during the meeting, and as it winds down, it might feel awkward to make a specific request. Don’t worry, it’s expected and necessary. While officials and staff are always happy to meet with constituents, they’ll be looking to you for guidance on how to respond to their districts’ needs. Make sure you give them those insights by requesting the policy actions we cover in your briefing books.
Leave contact information (and take theirs).
If you have a card, be sure to leave it with them before your meeting is over. You never know when your specific expertise will come in handy on an issue before Congress, and you’d love to be the resource they can rely on to make an educated decision. Make sure you get theirs too, and don’t worry if you forget during the meeting. Most offices have everyone’s business card easily accessible on the way out.
Share your outcome.
Be sure to grab a picture with the office if you have time. Not only is it a great souvenir, but if you/your business has social media, you can share your visit and thank the member publicly. A little encouragement can go a long way!
Follow up and keep in touch.
When you get home, send a follow up email to thank them once again for their time and mention your asks one more time in writing. Feel free to follow up with them in the future on the issue, and others that develop. Remember, you’re their eyes and ears on the ground and your opinion matters!