5 Things You Need to Know About Meeting with a Legislator
Know who you are meeting with. This may sound a little obvious but you really do need to know more than just the person’s name. Do some research. Google them. Look at their social media accounts and their website. Find out what’s important to them. Do they have kids? Are they active in the community? What are their priorities?
Prepare your message. First you need to be able to summarize your issues in 1-2 sentences. Keep it short, around 7 seconds. Tailor your messages to the elected official. Do they have interests that align with your issue? If so, use that to your advantage. Have a personal story to show how the issue impacts you and why it is important to you. Make sure you have some key facts and statistics memorized. Finally, know what you want them to do so you can make “the ask.”
Initiate communication/set up a meeting. Now that your message is prepared, it’s time to reach out. You can email, write a letter, use social media, call them, or even stop by their office. Make sure you let them know what you would like to meet about. Be prepared just in case your initial outreach becomes your meeting. And make sure you are polite and kind to the legislative assistants. You won’t get very far if you’re rude or demanding.
Have a meeting. Relax and don’t be nervous. You prepared! Start off by introducing yourself and telling them who you are and where you’re from. If you’re a constituent, let them know. Deliver the message that you already summarized in 1-2 sentences. Share your personal story and key statistics. They may have questions so answer them to the best of your ability. If you aren’t sure of something, let them know you will get back to them, then make sure you get back to them. Make the “ask” if you plan to.
Say “Thank you”. Don’t forget your manners! At the end of the meeting, thank them for their time. Make sure to get their contact information because you also want to thank them after the meeting. Send them an email or write a letter after the visit thanking them for meeting with you and summarizing the issue again. If you promised additional information, make sure you send it.