1. Address your audience accurately 2. A Welcoming Mindset 3. Your Call/Meeting with Legislators/Staffers 4. The Who, What, When, and Why of Your Ask 5. Post-Meeting Manners
1. Address your audience accurately
Senate - Senator House of Representative - Rep./Congressman/Congresswoman
Try to understand the roles of who you’re talking to:
Senior Staffs - Legislative Director, Chief Of Staff, Deputy COS, Communications Director, state director Junior Staffs - Legislative Assistant, Legislative Correspondent, Staff Assistant
2. A Welcoming Mindset
- Most staff will have questions ready and inevitably some pushback. - Be open minded to clarify, don’t get defensive. - Acknowledge policy flaws and political obstacles. - Self-awareness of what can realistically be done is very important. - Always offer to answer in the follow-up email with more details. - If you don't have a good answer, always offer to come.
3. Your Call/Meeting with Legislators/Staffers
- Keep group as small as possible, be it in person or virtual - Personal connection is essential to deliver your story - Staffers need to feel motivated to push with their boss(es) - Always end the meeting early — give staffers 10 minutes, which they'll be very thankful
4. The Who, What, When, and Why of Your Ask
- Who does it matter to? - What are we asking for? - When does this matter? E.g. asap? Time is of essence - Why should America help?
Provide only as much background as necessary — staffers handle a large portfolio of issues, often over 10 so while background is important, remember they won't be policy experts in every area and they aren't asked to be, especially in the House.
Understand the nature of our requests: Members and staff are often motivated by a constituent impact, in our case we must recognize we don 't have a natural constituency for them as is nearly all cases when discussing foreign, not domestic, issues so our personal stories are even more important
5. Post-Meeting Manners
- Always send a follow-up email - Ask them how you can be helpful - Offer to stay in touch and provide follow-up materials - Keep materials to I page - Give them a reasonable amount of time to respond, at least 48 hours and only follow-up when necessary - Try to avoid phone calls and stick to email