Meeting with a member of Congress or congressional staff is a very effective
way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Below are some
suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional office.
Plan Your Visit Carefully
Be clear what you want to achieve;
determine in advance which member or committee staff you need to meet with to
achieve your purpose.
Make an Appointment
Contact the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler,
explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for congressional staff
to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship
to the area or interests represented by the member.
Be Prompt and Patient
When it is time to meet with a member, be
punctual and patient. It is not uncommon for a Congressman or Congresswoman to
be late, or to have a meeting interrupted, due to the member's crowded schedule.
If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself,
continue your meeting with a member's staff.
Bring to the meeting information and materials
supporting your position. Members are required to take positions on many
different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about
the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share with
the member information and examples that demonstrate clearly the impact or
benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
Members of Congress want to represent the best
interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the
connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's
constituency. Describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance
to him/her. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
- Be Responsive
Be prepared to answer questions or provide
additional information, in the event the member expresses interest or asks
questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the
different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional
information and materials requested.