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Introduction: Preparing for Legislative Meetings
A Federal Political Coordinator's most valuable contribution to NAR is the relationship they develop with their Member of Congress. In addition to regular contact with the assigned Member of Congress, there are several specific tasks that are required to fulfill the role of FPC. This course is designed to assist you in one of the most important--attending and leading a meeting with a member of Congress or staff person. You'll have an opportunity to review the basics of advocacy (should you need a refresher). You'll also gain the skills you need to prepare and coordinate other attendees before coming to Washington, DC!
The course is divided into six sections, specifically:
- The political environment
- The four keys to effective advocacy & making the ask
- Knowing your audience
- Developing your message
- Following up
- Leading others
Whether you've been to D.C. dozens of times, or are new to the process, you might consider glancing through the basic advocacy concepts outlined in topics two through five. It never hurts to brush up your skills!
Your Course Leader
Stephanie Vance is a 25-year "veteran" of Washington, DC. She's worked as a Congressional Chief of Staff, Lobbyist and Grassroots Consultant. Here she shares insights on the importance of citizen advocacy.
The Political Climate
What You Want: Making the Ask
Armed with an overview of NAR priorities, let's plunge into the keys to advocacy. As advocates from the REALTOR community, these strategies will look very familiar. You'll be applying your sales skills to the policy making process.
Four Keys Overview
There are four keys to effective advocacy. Start here for the overview. Then let's look at each one!
People in the sales world know that the number one reason you don't make a sale is because you didn't ask for it. In DC, you're selling an idea, and the number one reason elected officials don't get on board is because people don't ask.
Who You're Talking To: Understanding Your AudienceAs FPCs, you're likely already well-acquainted with your legislators. Now we'll talk about how to use that information to create winning messages. Three key things you'll need to keep in mind are:
- Their Committee Assignments
- Their Policy Interests
- Their Political Views
Review the following videos and readings for more information on where to gather that information. In the next section we'll talk about using that information to develop a winning message
; ABOUT LEGISLATORS
To be most effective, you'll want to know a little something about the people you're talking to. In this section, you'll learn about understanding your legislator, and their all important staff.
Note that all your research into the legislator's policy and political interests apply to the staff as well. They're there to represent their boss, so what's of interest to the boss will be of interest to them as well.
How to Talk to Them - Developing Your Story
Your job is to tie the strange things that happen in Washington, DC back to the district, and you do that through effective stories. Use the following materials to create yours! Now tie all of that into a strong message with the message formula.
Being an Advocacy Leader
Finding and Recruiting Grassroots Advocates
Your team in the Washington office will always assist you in finding other advocacy-minded individuals in the community. One of your most important jobs is to get those advocates engaged. In short, you’re likely surrounded by advocates – you just need to ask for their help! In this section you'll find valuable resources on how to do so, including:
- A three page section from the FPC Manual on building a successful FPC
team: This covers the basics of gathering others in your community who can help deliver the message
- An “Advocate Intake Form” you can use to collect useful information about your colleagues and apply that to your work in creating an effective local advocacy effort
Scheduling and Leading a Congressional Meeting
As someone leading others in your delegation for your meetings in May, you’ll need to be sure you're prepared to make the meetings as effective as possible. The "Checklist for DC" walks you through each step of the process. And if you haven't scheduled meetings before, check out this short video.
Things NOT to Do We've talked a lot about what you can do--let's talk a little about the kinds of comments you might want to stay away from. Each of these is based on a real-live experience. So don't be "that" person.
- A three page section from the FPC Manual on building a successful FPC team: This covers the basics of gathering others in your community who can help deliver the message
How to Follow Up - Building Relationships