IREM Congressional In-District - Frequently Asked Questions
Is this the same as the IREM Day at the Statehouse?
No. The IREM Day at the Statehouse Program is geared towards meeting with your state legislators in your state’s Capitol. The IREM Congressional In-District Program is focused on engaging with your federal legislators in their district offices. Your federal legislators work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and are either in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. We refer to both groups as “Members of Congress.”
With whom am I meeting?
The IREM Congressional In-District Program is designed to help IREM Members engage with their legislators at the federal level. This includes your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, and your Senators in the U.S. Senate.
When should I make my appointment?
The IREM Congressional In-District visits should take place between April 10th and 21st. If you are unable to schedule your appointment during that period, be sure to check the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives session calendars to make sure your legislators will be in the district.
What if my U.S. Representative or Senator isn’t available to meet?
First, ask if there is another day that would work. If there is not a better time, ask to meet with staff. Staffers are assigned special content areas, so they should be familiar with IREM’s issues. Even if they are not well versed in the specifics, they will relay the information to more knowledgeable staff as well at the Member of Congress. Meeting with staff can be just as impactful.
How many people need to attend?
Just one! While we recommend a getting a group of 4-6, it only takes one person to deliver IREM’s message. We also suggest capping it around six people, district offices can be small and we want everyone to have a chance to speak.
Do I need to give them a list of attendees beforehand?
Sometimes schedulers will ask for information about all of the attendees. If this happens say you are happy to provide a full list of attendees once you have confirmed the meeting details.
Will they want to know what you are meeting about beforehand?
Yes. Tell the scheduler you would like to introduce yourself and IREM, and also to discuss a few policy issues (give them the name of the issue and any related bill numbers). Do not send them the issue brief.
My request was denied, now what?
Legislators are busy people and their schedules may not be able to accommodate your meeting request. Ask if there is another time you can meet. Better late than never!
April is designated as IREM “In-District Visit” month, but I’m very busy during that month. Can I do it another time?
Absolutely. We suggest meeting in April because Members of Congress are back in their districts for a long work period, but they come back several times per year. Ask the scheduler for another time that works for your schedule.
What should I wear for the meeting?
Business attire is generally recommended. Although district offices are more casual than the Capitol Hill offices, you may go the business casual route too! No jeans, tennis shoes, etc.
What should I bring?
Leave behind document, notes and note taking materials, business cards, and a positive attitude.
How long will it last?
This can depend greatly on the legislator’s schedule. A typical meeting will run about 15 minutes, but it is not uncommon for meetings to run short or very long. If your meeting gets cut short, thank them for their time and offer to follow up. Request 30 minutes regardless.
What do I do once I arrive?
- Begin by introducing yourself to staff – give business cards to anyone you meet in the office.
- Get settled, and begin sharing your (brief) background. Tell them what kind of properties you manage, how long, where, etc. Also, be sure to include any numbers you can such as square feet, number of units, etc.
- Tell them briefly about IREM and your involvement (I’ve been a member for 13 years, etc.) – refer to the issues brief for some information on IREM you can share.
- Discuss the issues:
- Explain the issue (the legislator and/or staff may be unfamiliar) briefly,
- Explain that you are proponent/opponent of the issue (include bill numbers),
- Give a personal example of how the issue/bill has or would impact you and your business – VERY IMPORTANT!
- Respectfully ask for their support or opposition
- At the meeting’s conclusion, thank your Member of Congress and promise to follow up.
- Ask for a photo with the Member of Congress and/or present staff.
What if I’m asked a question I don’t know how to answer?
Tell them that you are unsure, but would be happy to find the answer and get back to them. It is perfectly reasonable to not be able to answer a question. However, it is not ok to give incorrect information. We rely on these meetings to establish rapport with our elected officials and trust is very important to that process.
How soon should I follow up after my meeting concludes?
The sooner the better. Send a thank you email the following day (send to any staffers you met with and they’ll relay the message to the legislator). Use this opportunity to reiterate your main points, answer any unanswered questions, and most importantly thank them for their time. Also attach the leave behind so they can put it in their online files.