Going to visit Members of Congress is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that Members of Congress are aware of the concerns of their constituents. Meetings can be arranged on Capitol Hill or in the Member's district offices in their state. Sometimes it can be as effective to meet with a key staff person as with the Member.
Below are tips to consider when contacting Members of Congress.
- Do your homework. Members of Congress and their staffers are very busy, so make sure you know where they stand on your issue before you meet with them. This will help focus your meeting on what can be done to make sure your issue is addressed.
- Introduce yourself. If you are lobbying with a group, make sure to introduce each member of your group. Include information on how each member of your group would be affected by the legislation. If anyone in your group is a constituent of the Member, be sure to highlight this fact.
- Control the meeting. It is best to have one member of your group give a general description of the issue while other members provide supporting details.
- Emphasize the personal impact of the legislation. Provide details about exactly how the legislation will impact you and others employees or retirees.
- Don't assume that the Member or staffer knows what you are talking about. Everyone on Capitol Hill is working on several issues at any given time. Make sure to give a broad explanation of the issue or legislative proposal you are concerned about. Then, go into a more detailed discussion of the legislation.
- Provide as many details as possible. If you are dealing with already-written legislation, tell the person you are meeting with exactly where in the legislation they can find the provisions that you have come to discuss.
- Be gracious. Say thank you. While issues can be emotional for many, it is important to be cordial and maintain a level of respect.
- Exchange contact information. Oftentimes, staffers will need to contact you after your meeting for more information about your issue. It is also a good idea to correspond with staffers after your meeting to keep them informed of how your issue is progressing.
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