6 TIPS FOR MEETING WITH LAWMAKERS
Meet with your elected officials to discuss important issues. When a legislator is unavailable, request a meeting with their staff who handles the issue you wish to discuss. Meetings with staff are just as valuable, as staff bring the concerns shared during meetings to the legislator’s attention.
You don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with your Congressman or Senators. Contact your legislator’s D.C. office to find out when they’ll be home in your district and coordinate a meeting in advance.
Meetings take time and preparation, but the extra effort can go a long way toward achieving your goal. The following tips may help maximize your preparation efforts:
- Plan your purpose
What should your meeting accomplish? How are you going to support your issue? Think this through and do any necessary research and preparation. When possible, utilize NFIB research and staff for supporting information. Address only one issue, and state your views in no more than 5 to 10 minutes.
- Schedule an appointment
Schedule an appointment with your legislator or their staff who covers the issue you wish to discuss. When calling the office to request an appointment, ask to speak with the scheduler, explain the purpose of your call, and state the reason for the meeting. Know your availability before making the request.
- Be prompt, patient, and polite
When it’s time to meet with your legislator or a member of their staff, be punctual. During the meeting, be cordial and briefly break the ice with small talk, but quickly get down to business. Stay focused on the issue you want to discuss. Take notes so you can follow up later.
- Be prepared
Share meeting material in advance, and bring copies to share with meeting attendees. Providing materials in advance prepares those you’ll be meeting with and serves as a valuable reference after the meeting. Material should be relevant, direct, and include your contact information. Do your research. If you’re meeting with your legislator, read their bio, recent press releases, information about their district, and their NFIB voting record. If you’re meeting about a specific bill, know the bill number, where it currently is in the process, if the bill is in committee, or if your legislator is a member of that committee. Your preparation will convey that you are informed and will make the meeting more productive. Most of this information is on the legislator’s website. To look up your legislators, click here and enter your zip code in the “Find Officials” box. To look up specific legislation, click here and use the “Find Legislation” box. Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information following the meeting. If you don’t have the answer to a question, tell them you’ll get back to them. If this occurs, make sure to promptly follow up. NFIB can assist you with answering questions or supplying information relating to business issues. If you need assistance, contact your NFIB Grassroots Team at [email protected].
- Be a resource
Offer yourself as a resource for business issues related to your industry. Elected officials don’t know everything, and having a resource they trust to discuss issues and the potential impact is an opportunity to educate them.
- Follow-up with a thank you
Regardless of how your meeting goes, send a thank you to each individual that participated in the meeting. Thank you notes can include appreciation for their time, summary of key points discussed, additional information or materials requested during the meeting, and an offer to be a reference on future issues relating to your industry. This gesture will go a long way. Everyone appreciates a thank you.