VTPPF Cooperative Legislative Action (CoLA)
“Building a Solid Relationship”
Your elected Representative
Your preferred candidate
Their Legislative/Policy Assistant
“These hints work for elected representatives at all levels of government”
Don’t be Buddies – Be Business!
Be willing to connect via phone, email or in person.
Get on your representatives mailing list. Easy! Ask to be put on it or do it through their website. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Attend your representatives events. Attend events where you will be able to chat with him/her comfortably such as a barbeque or picnic. Avoid sit-down dinners, unless you desire to be seen.
• Your main objective is to get your name and face in front of your representative AND his staff in a favorable light.
• Bring up your concern briefly and ask for their feedback. Let him/her talk. LISTEN For: whether they understand the issue and where they stand on the issue.
• If the issue impacts you personally or someone or some company in their district, mention it. This might get you directed to constituent services resulting in another “in” with your representative.
• Ask for permission to stay in touch on your issue. Then ask for the best way to contact them. Accept whatever contact information is given.
Do occasional internet searches on your elected representative to find out what he/she has been doing. It might lead you to different angles to reach him/her, such as an organization that he or she supports. Find common ground. Reach out to them through the organization.
• If you know you have something in common, make a remark about It. (Golf, Home education, church, scouts, military, Rotary, butterflies)
If you very much support them, volunteer for his/her campaign team. This gives you more access to your representative and his/her staff.
When you see your representatives unexpectedly at an event or while running errands, always take a minute to connect/re-connect. If you’ve met before, remind him/her where and when.
Always know something about the representative about which you can continue a conversation, such as the health of a family member, progress of a project at his/her full-time job, the latest news on a sporting event the representative loves, etc.
If you had a significant conversation, follow up with a note of thanks, even if you disagree. If you have new information, include it. It might bolster support, or change a vote your way.
Find out your representative’s birthday and send him/her a birthday card.
NEVER THREATEN or antagonize your elected representative, even if you disagree or he or she insults you. You might disagree this time, but the next time this representative could become your champion. So don’t burn your bridges!
• If you insist on a “take no prisoners” or “no holds barred” approach, you will not be successful. It might gain you a following in the citizenry, but it won’t gain you respect and access to the Representative.
• Legislators have long memories for painful experiences, and they have friends who are elected. Hurt one Representative, and rest assured other elected representatives will learn about it and learn to stay away from you and your organization.
Don’t be Buddies – Be Business!