Do you remember when you became friends with someone? How exciting it was to hang out and talk for hours and learn how much you had in common. And eventually that person became a trusted confidant, perhaps an advisor and best friend.
It’s likely that trusted friend didn’t become so overnight. You had to spend time together, get to know one another, learn each other’s likes and dislikes, perhaps even argue on occasion. But in the long run it was worth the effort to have such a great friend.
In many respects, building and maintaining a relationship with those you are trying to influence is the same.
So often, I’ve seen advocates walk up to lawmakers they don’t know or doesn’t know them, ask for their support and expect to get it! That would be like a stranger walking up to you on the street and asking for your cell number and expecting you to give it to them! Hopefully you’re getting the point here, it just doesn’t work that way.
Years ago, I was facilitating an advocacy workshop and one of our guest speakers was then Florida Senator Joe Negron (R-25). He is currently the President of the Florida Senate. He shared a quote that day I’ve never forgotten and have passed along to many advocates, “You must have a relationship that predates the issue.” Truer words were never spoken.
Focus on building the friendship first, and the rest of your advocacy journey will be much easier and yes…more successful!
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy