I’m often asked by advocates, “When is the best time to begin building a relationship with those I am trying to influence?” And no matter when I get this question, my answer is always the same. NOW, ALWAYS, CONSISTENTLY! Just like the relationships with your family and friends, it has to be nurtured with intent.
But is there every a time when it’s too late to begin? Absolutely not! However, as your legislative session approaches, the strategies for fostering that relationship may need to change. During that time of year lawmakers are extremely busy. And while they love to see their constituents at the state capital, it’s often very difficult for them to get to know you (if they don’t already).
Have you ever had a stranger walk up to you on the street and ask for your cell phone number so they can call and ask you for help? Were you willing to give it to them? I’m guessing the answer is no. Why? Because you don’t know or trust them.
However, I’ve often seen people walk up to a legislator (who doesn’t know them) during session as ask (sometimes demand) their help! This is basically the same scenario as the stranger on the street. My point being is that just doesn’t work.
So I’d like to share some strategies for building that relationship even when time is very limited. And bonus…these are also excellent examples to demonstrate your sincerity to work with and support them during their tenure in public office:
- Support one of their priorities and helping them advance it in any way they need.
- Another great strategy is to simply offer your help. They will sincerely appreciate this, especially if you have expertise in an industry or profression they can call upon as a resource for information.
- Send them an email or handwritten note thanking them for their service, congratulating them on their committee assignments (even if they are the same as the previous year) and wishing them well in the upcoming session.
- Send an email and/or note to their staff, wishing them well and sharing your contact information so they can easily reach you if and when needed.
At the very foundation of being a successful advocate is a strong relationship with those you are trying to influence. By focusing your efforts on building that relationship, you will soon become a trusted friend and ally your lawmakers can count on for help. And better yet…be that friend THEY will want to help when you really need them!
To learn more, be sure to get a copy of my new book, A Journey To Yes.
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy