Planning a Visit with Your Legislator
Before Your Visit
Schedule the meeting
• Call your Member’s local office to request a meeting.
• Make sure to tell them how many others would like to attend.
• If the member is unavailable, ask to meet with staff who work on human trafficking issues.
• You may have to send an email or fill out a form.
• Don’t be discouraged if you need to follow-up for a response.
Be knowledgeable about the person you are visiting
• Party affiliation.
• Term in office.
• Position on the issue you are discussing.
• What committees is she/he on.
• Thank the member for other similar bills the Member has supported.
Know your bill
• Know the bill name and number.
• Where it is in the process.
• The names of the sponsors and co-sponsors.
• Other legislators supporting similar legislation.
Establish goals and objectives of the meeting
• Remember this is one step in the process of establishing an on-going relationship.
• Be clear about your “ask” – Will he/she:
Support/oppose the bill?Co-sponsor the bill?Move it forward in the process? (ex. Committee to floor)Help to get a fellow legislator(s) to support the bill?
Get your script together
• Assign roles.
• Remember the objective of the meeting.
• Develop and tailor your talking points.
At Your Visit
Arrive early and as a group
• Remember that you are not the only people meeting with the legislator and staff that day. Arriving early may give you extra time and always makes you look more professional.
• Late group members should politely wait outside the office rather than interrupt a meeting in progress.
• Briefly introduce yourselves individually and be sure to include your organization’s name and where you are from and any relationship to the legislator.
• Have your group leader explain that you represent an important voice in your legislator’s district—U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.
Sample Introduction to Legislator or Staff Member
Hello Mr./Ms. __________. I’d like to first thank you for taking the time to meet with us today.
My name is _______________. Our group represents U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking. During our time with you today, we’d like to discuss our concerns about and proposals for addressing Human Trafficking.
Ask each of the members of the group to introduce herself.
Keep your presentation simple
• Create your talking points in advance. Know your facts and have your information easily at hand. Stay away from using acronyms.
• Tell powerful stories. Stories are one of the most effective ways to leave a lasting impact on legislators and congressional staff. A powerful story creates an emotional connection to an issue and links it to deeper values and personal experience.
• Seek concrete commitments. Come prepared to ask your legislator to take specific actions in support of your issues (e.g., introduce or cosponsor legislation, vote in favor or against a specific bill, communicate support to House or Senate leadership or head of a specific committee). Seek clear yes or no responses to your “asks”, and be prepared to follow up.
• Stay positive. If a legislator or their staff ask questions you cannot answer that day, feel free to let them know that you could send them that information.
• Stay polite. You might disagree with a legislator or staffer; if so, make your point and move on. You want to inform them of your position and make them feel comfortable going to you as a source of information in their district.
• Listen well. Let them ask questions. You may find new opportunities to interact with the legislator.
After Your Visit
• Remember to get the staffers’ business cards.
• Consider asking them to take a photo with your group.
• Send a thank you note and include any follow-up information that you promised during the visit.