A few helpful tips to remember:
One meeting is only the beginning. Your initial meeting is only the beginning of your advocacy efforts. You will need to build a relationship with your legislator, in the same manner, you would any partner you are working alongside with. Following up with emails, phone calls and additional information on your advocacy efforts will improve your effectiveness and make a lasting impact. If you read something they supported you are in agreement with…even if it’s outside your personal advocacy issues let them know. Keep the dialogue going. Stay on their radar
You may be surprised to find your elected official has a staff member meet with you at first. This is not unusual and can often work towards your advantage because they will spend more time with you while also making thorough notes of your discussion to pass on to your representative. Remember, the legislative staff is a legislators inner circle. Be respectful to them and partner with them as if it was your legislator.
You are building a relationship and partnership. Make your legislator your team member. They have many constituents and often have very little time to study or research the issues at hand. They will depend on you to educate them. You as their partners can prepare and communicate accurate information for your elected official that is clear concise and easy to communicate. TMS will have a talking point sheet to help you do this.
Connect the dots. Be sure that your legislator knows that you are a constituent. If you have family, social, business or political ties, making the association with him or her may help you make a strong connection. Let your legislator know if you are working with The Mastocytosis Society.
Be firm on your position and remember disagreeing is OK. Don’t argue if your representative doesn’t agree with you. You will need his or her support for future issues. Find out why they disagree and follow up with information that will better convince them of your position.
Contacting your legislator may seem intimidating, but it’s important to remember that he or she is elected to represent you and serve you. They are normal people with families and loved ones that often share similar concerns. As you build your partnership you will find advocating will become easier.
If you have questions or would like assistance please email firstname.lastname@example.org.