Research the Issue
Take time to do an Internet search about the issue, read web news, or find a Wikipedia article. Next, be sure you know something about each public official you will be meeting with–even if your meeting is with a staffer. For a federal legislator, the Library of Congress maintains a record of all congressional votes, introduced bills, and other legislative action on the website, congress.gov. Almost every elected official has his or her own website that tracks all the bills considered by legislators–including who sponsored which bills and the votes. Don’t forget to look at social media either, such as Facebook pages, Twitter, and e-newsletters.
You should prepare a “leave-behind” for each lobbying meeting you will attend: one leave-behind per meeting. A leave-behind is a single sheet of paper with information about the issue you are lobbying. This information about the issue that you provide the public official is known as a lobbying paper. It should be basic, simply including a few facts that summarize the issue, a statement that gives your point of view, and a declarative statement that includes “the ask”–what it is that you want from the public official. The lobbying paper should not be more than a page. You want the public official to have something educational and tangible to take away from the meeting, but remember, no one has time to read a dissertation. Forcing yourself to keep the lobbying paper short will also help you formulate your talking points for the meeting.
Dress for Success
Whether you are meeting with the major of a town with 32 residents or a U.S. senator, be sure to dress appropriately. This does not mean you must wear a business suit. This is true for women and men. It does mean nice pants or slacks; skirt or dress; button-down shirt or blouse; and closed-toe shoes. You should be comfortable, but you also want to show you take the meeting, the lobbying issues, and yourself seriously. So don’t wear jeans, shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, or hates, and don’t let your bra straps show. If it sounds a bit strict and conservative, it is. This does not pertain to tattoos, hair color, piercings, jewelry, lapel pins, or buttons. You should be free to express yourself and be who you are, but give yourself the best opportunity by dressing in a way that says, “This issue is important to me.”