By Whitney Bertram, operations manager
I’ve scheduled a meeting with my legislator… Now what?
Come to the meeting prepared. You will have only a short time to talk to your legislator because of the many constituents who want to see him or her about issues or problems. Organize your meeting by following the tips below:
- Take a letter or fact sheet to the meeting to leave with the legislator.
- Practice in advance. Anticipate answering questions about the issue.
- Be yourself. Most legislators are good listeners so they want to hear your perspective on the issue.
- Treat your legislator as you’d want to be treated; be respectful and professional.
- Never threaten or brag on your campaigning or contributions when talking about issues.
- Thank your legislators for their support, time and serving in public office.
- Send a thank you note after the meeting.
- Report back to your association to let them know how the meeting went.
If I can’t meet in person, will a phone call work?
Yes, phone calls can be effective if you follow these steps:
- Write down key points before you call.
- Practice in advance.
- If you are a constituent of the legislator, be sure to mention it.
- Ask for a report on how the legislator stands/voted on the issue.
- Be brief. Keep your call under five minutes.
- Be respectful and professional.
- Follow up with a written thank you note restating your position.
- Report results to your association.
Should I send a letter?
There is power in numbers when it comes to lobbying. Imagine the impact if every person in the state in your industry was to generate a new letter to legislators each week about pending legislation or issues. Letters to representatives should follow these guidelines:
- Always type your letter. While handwritten is more personal, the letter should be very easy to read.
- Use your company or association letterhead so the legislator knows who you are and what organization you represent.
- Keep your letter to one page. Include fact sheets or other information on additional pages.
- Include your name and address.
- If you are a constituent, include that information.
- Outline your view on the issue/legislation.
- Request that the legislator support the legislation.
How can I find out who my legislators are and how can I obtain their mailing and email addresses?
Visit www.votesmart.org and enter your nine digit zip code to determine who your representatives are.
Do you have tips for connecting with legislators or a success story to share? Tell us in the comments!