How to Have a Successful Meeting
What is Lobbying?
Lobbying is the process of influencing a public official at any level of government.
Know the legislators
Do research. Learn about Members of Congress. What committees are they on? Have they already taken a stance on any of our issues? Have they spoken at an industry event? Know about their personal life. Maybe you went to the same school, share a hobby, or are fans of the same team. Of course, be careful to use neutral, bipartisan, and factual resources (beware of “fake news!”).
Know Your Issues
Phrase the argument in a personal context. Don’t be surprised if it appears you are more knowledgeable than the individual you are lobbying. No legislator can be expected to know everything! However don’t hesitate to admit your lack of knowledge on a particular point. Be willing to pursue the answer and report back.
Know Your Opposition
It is important to anticipate some opposition on any issue. Conduct research and read any issues brief. Be prepared to discuss any opposing views.
At the Meeting:
- Introduce yourself
- Inform the legislator/staff about IREM
- Discuss the issues
- Thank them for their time
- Give them one “leave behind”
Dos and Don’ts
- Address the Senator or Representative properly: “Hello, Representative Smith” or “Thank you, Senator Miller”
- Introduce yourself to everyone you meet, do not be offended if someone does not remember you.
- Hand everyone you meet a business card.
- Know important details about the bills you’re discussing such as its status and bill number.
- Use our issues brief for information on each issue.
- Use your own words and experiences (personal experiences are key!)
- Be concise and courteous – especially if they do not agree with you!
- Do meet with staff. They know a lot about the issues and keep the legislators updated.
- Establish yourself as an expert on the subject.
- Give legislators the IREM leave behind. This helps them remember what was discussed.
- Familiarize yourself with staff, they are often the gatekeepers to the legislator.
- Always keep off-the-record comments confidential.
- Keep the door open for further discussion despite differences of opinion.
- Remind them that you pay taxes or “pay their salary.”
- Act arrogant, condescending, or threatening toward legislators or their staff.
- Argue, be aggressive, or force an answer.
- Take notes while talking to a legislator, wait until you leave the office.
- Send copies of form letters unless you have taken the time to include a personal note.