There’s the saying, “it’s all about who you know.” When it comes to gaining support for your issue, meeting in person with your legislator is one of the most effective ways to establish a relationship. Building this relationship is a great strategy for building collaboration and support.
Here are some tips for a successful meeting with your elected official:
- Start by thinking about your desired outcome: What do you want your legislator to understand after the meeting?
- Determine goals and key messages for the meeting. Expect it to last 15-20 minutes.
- Decide when and where you want to meet: in the district, at their office, at a program site, etc.
- Make the appointment. Call or email the legislator’s office to schedule the meeting, and be sure to state you’re a constituent or group of constituents. Their schedule may change, so be flexible if you have to reschedule.
- Decide who will be participating in the meeting, who will lead the meeting, and from what perspectives they will be speaking. Be strategic about what stories and information each person will share if there is more than one of you.
- Gather facts and evidence you will share to communicate your key messages.
- Be clear on the action you want the legislator to take. What will you ask them to commit to do?
- Be specific with your “ask.” You want to ask them to do something specific (for example, vote in favor of an increase in funding for early care and education programs or for implementing a statewide school readiness assessment) so that you can hold the legislator accountable for their votes.
- Refer to the Think Small Policy Agenda or call the Think Small office for more information on specific policy issues.
- Gather information about the person with whom you are meeting: What do they care about? Who do you know who knows the legislator personally? Does the legislator have young children or grandchildren? Have they participated in any early care and education programs or been involved in the education system?
- Make or modify a fact sheet to leave behind with the legislator including information about your local community.
- Arrive on time and leave on time.