9 Tips for a Successful Visit with a Legislator
1 . Make an appointment . Schedule your visit in advance . Do not show up without an appointment . A broad-based delegation of constituents ( three to five is the ideal number ) may increase the likelihood of getting a meeting with the legislator rather than a staff member .
2 . Prepare for the meeting . Decide on the exact issue ( s ) you would like to discuss with the legislator and do your homework so that you are well-versed in each subject . Try to limit your issues to the least amount possible ( no more than two or three ) to maximize discussion time . Do research to discover how the legislator has previously voted on each issue ( www . lrc . ky . gov is an excellent resource ). Determine who will cover each issue and the order of agenda . Decide on a group leader who will begin / end the meeting , ensure that the conversation flows and that all issues and major points are covered .
3 . Be punctual and positive . Be on time , preferably early . Thank the legislator for his or her time and for representing you . If the legislator has supported your issue ( s ) in the past , be sure to acknowledge it and thank them for it . Even if they disagree on certain issues , thank them for hearing your side . Do not act disappointed if your meeting ends up being with a staff member . Legislators are very busy .
4 . Take time for introductions . Briefly introduce the individuals in your group , the organization ( s ) you represent , and the issues you wish to discuss .
5 . Be patient and polite . Ask for your legislator ’ s view on each issue , and do not get angry if it is not the response you would prefer . Listen and gather information .
6 . Make the Ask . State exactly what you are asking the legislator to support . For instance , “ we would like to have your support of HB 4321 , the Feel Good bill .” Give several brief points as to why the legislator should support the legislation . Try to avoid a long philosophical debate . Many people make the mistake of leaving the legislator ’ s office without making “ the Ask .” This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when lobbying .
7 . Do not stay too long . Most legislators say that 10 to 15 minutes is the optimal time for a visit . Keep an eye on the time . If you have been in the office for 15 minutes , say , “ we do not want to take up too much of your time ” and offer to wrap up the meeting . If a legislator then invites you to stay longer , that is okay .
8 . Follow up . Leave only one or two pages of relevant materials . Tell the legislator or staff member that you will get back to him or her if you cannot provide information about an issue on the spot . If the legislator or staff person is unfamiliar with a bill , ask for follow-up correspondence . Before leaving , ask if there is anything you can do to assist the legislator .
9 . Express gratitude . At the end of the meeting , thank the legislator or staff person for his or her time . Send a thank you letter soon after your visit , repeating your “ ask .” This will help to build a relationship over time .
Adapted from http :// fcnl . org / assets / flyerlobby _ flyer1105 . pdf