How to Hug a Porcupine: Relationship Building with Elected Officials

Top four takeaways from the Congressional Management Foundation’s webinar on building relationships with lawmakers:

  1. The form of advocacy that most influences Members of Congress is in-person meetings with constituents – especially constituents who are representing a larger group or organization. In CMF’s research and surveys, these meetings ranked significantly higher than meetings with lobbyists.
  2. The most effective messages include the following: the constituents’ reasoning for supporting the bill or issue, a personal story on how the issue has affected the constituent, and information or data on the impact the issue would have on their district.
  3. Communication with staff members is critical. Get their email address and fill them in on your issues. Staffers get hundreds of emails daily, so be sure to use creative subject lines and make your email easy to read. Many of these emails are read on the go.
  4. The key to building a trusted relationship is simple – repetition. Attend town halls, district office hours, and fundraisers if you are able. Schedule legislative meetings with your representative’s office a few times a year. Someone who is consistently communicating and visible is someone that lawmakers will trust and look to as a resource.

Following these steps has been proven to make an impact on your lawmakers and their staff. If you’d like to become an advocate for the profession, or if you have any questions about how to get started, reach out to Josh Caron at Caron@aalu.org.

Special thanks to the Congressional Management Foundation for sharing their knowledge with us.

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