Staying in touch with your elected officials is as important as ever. The opportunity to try and influence public policy is one that should not be missed.
However daunting this communication process might be, rest assured that your representatives do want to hear from you. Communicating with and building relationships with your elected officials is not hard to learn how to do.
Constituents are the gauge of how well a representative and their public policy agenda is received. Constituents are also the means by which your representatives are reelected. Your elected officials want to stay in touch with you. Use that to your advantage by building a relationship with them.
Here are some tips on how to build that relationship from our United Spinal Advocacy Staff.
Build a long-term relationship
Members of Congress want to get to know their constituents. Building a professional relationship with them will garner long-term benefits for you. Find common ground by looking more broadly than the few issues on your current legislative agenda. Also remember, staff make a difference because legislators depend on the advice of their staff. Do not discount staff in building relationships, it can be an advantage. Legislators have offices in their home states and districts, and most make themselves available through public venues to meet with constituents. State and district staff work hand in hand with Washington staff. They can open many doors for you. Keep a dialogue open with as many staff as you can.
Information is power
Sharing reliable information is a powerful tool in establishing trust with members of Congress and their staffs. Your personal story about how an issue affects your life is central in making your case for a change in public policy. Your personal story can help explain the technical parts of a complex issue. You are the expert on how a particular issue impacts you. Ask members of Congress and their staff to share your story with their colleagues.
Be yourself and always be at your best
The way you approach, interact and follow up with members and staff is as important as the message you want to deliver. Being at your very best will quickly build cordial lasting relationships.
After you contact a member of Congress or staffer, always follow up by sending a thank you note (email) immediately after your meeting or when you receive a reply.
If you want to get your point across to your elected officials, start building those relationships and start communicating correctly. Factual and accurate input can make you a trusted resource. You can find information on how to communicate with your elected officials at the bottom of this page: https://www.unitedspinal.org/action-center/