tips for lobbying

6 Tips for lobbying

One way that CCI gets action on our issues and get things done is by working to get elected officials to pass good bills and stop bad bills. Here are six tips on how to lobby your legislator or elected official.

1. Establish your agenda and goals

  • Decide what you would like to get out of the visit, i.e., a commitment to vote for your issue, leadership on the issue, or you may decide the visit is simply informational.
  • Know the subject you want to address. Don’t overload with issues — stick to no more than two or three.
  • Allow time for small talk at the outset, but not too much. Remember, it’s your visit.
  • If it is a group visit, decide who will start and lead the discussion and put your agenda on the table.

2. Listen well

  • Much of lobbying is listening for indications of their views and listening to find opportunities to provide good information.
  • If you are meeting with a “silent type,” draw her/him out by asking questions.
  • If you are meeting with a “long-winded type,” look for openings to bring her/him back to the point.

3. Be prepared, but don’t feel that you need to be an expert

  • Do your homework, but don’t feel that you need to know every little detail of an issue.
  • Air personal feelings and experiences where appropriate and relate the concerns of your friends and members of the community.
  • Be open to and prepared for counter-arguments, but don’t get stuck on them.
  • Know when to admit “I don’t know,” and offer to follow up with the information.

4. Use your time effectively

  • Often, they will only have a short time to meet with you. That is why it is important to get your key messages out and stay focused on why you are there.

5. Remember you are there to build a relationship

  • If they are on the right side of your issue or have supported your position in the past, be sure to acknowledge your appreciation during the course of the visit.
  • If the opposite is true, hold them accountable. Don’t be afraid to put some pressure on them and let them know how you feel – they work for you after all.

6. Follow-up is important

  • Send a follow-up note after your visit to thank them and restate any commitments made to repeat your understanding of the meeting. If any of their staff members were present be sure to write a follow-up note to them also – they can be important allies.