Tips for a Successful Meeting
- They want to hear from you. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- You are the expert! Don’t be afraid to talk. However, don’t be condescending.
- This is all about relationship development. Remember that trust is hard to gain and easy to destroy.
- Familiarize yourself with the Background Information.
- Prepare materials to leave in each office you visit (Leave-Behinds). Do not give gifts or anything of value to the office, member, or staff. Congressional rules strictly prohibit this. A folder with information is all you will need.
- Know your members of Congress. Read their bios, know their committees & interests, and tailor your pitch accordingly. (Find links to this in the ‘info’ link by each meeting. Or check out Project Vote Smart directly.)
- Know your talking points.
- Identify your “Ask” or “Desired Take Away.”
- Remember that ACS staff can help you with all of this!
- While you should always arrive early, the meeting may not start on time.
- If you are going to be late (even 2 minutes), call the office and let them know.
- The meeting can be held anywhere: hallway, cafeteria, elevator, outer office, member’s inner sanctum
- The meeting may be with a staff member instead of a Congressperson and may change on short notice.
- This shouldn’t be a problem, because staff members are young and smart, even though they may not have a background in their issue areas.
- You will have 15 quality minutes: Organize accordingly.
- Limit your message, and stay on point.
- Describe the importance of the issue to your work, employer, or state. Use anecdotes or narratives.
- Let them ask questions.
- Conclude and reiterate top points, making sure to capture follow-ups or commitments.
After the Meeting
- Thank them for the meeting – verbally and via email.
Reiterate key points and a unique meeting experience.
(Conventional mail is impractical for legislative offices due to security concerns.)
- Touch base with office contacts every three months to help build the relationship.
- Report the visit in your local section newsletter or website.
- Let the Office of Public Affairs know how the visit went using the Report Form for lawmaker visits.