Why are relationships important?
You understand that:
___Politics is personal.
___Legislators and aides, like others, respond to those they know and trust.
___Relationships give you access to legislators and their aides.
___Relationships foster a web of mutual favors and support.
Who are legislators and their aides?
___You understand the structure of Congress: House and Senate, and the differences in their functions and length of terms.
___You understand the structure of your particular state legislature.
___You know which committees are important to your issue and to all issues, and who their chairs, important members, and staffers are.
___You know what legislative aides do.
___You've identified the legislators and aides who have power or influence over your issue.
Whom do you need to develop a relationship with?
___You've identified the legislators and aides who need you.
___You've identified the legislators that you need.
What do we mean by developing a relationship?
You understand the ideal goals of relationships with legislators and aides, and are working to accomplish one or more of the following:
___The legislator and staff recognize your name and will take or return your calls.
___The legislator will speak to you in person.
___The legislator's office thinks first of you when it needs information on your issue.
___The legislator will support your issue when you need it.
___The legislator's office will call to alert you to crises, situations where you need to mobilize support, opportunities, etc.
___The legislator is willing to visit your organization or community.
___You are willing to help the legislator and her staff when needed.
___You have enough of a personal relationship with at least one person in the office (ideally the legislator) that you can spend a few minutes chatting about family, sports, movies, etc.
How do you meet legislators and aides?
You know how to do the following:
___Make a formal appointment to meet in the district or in the capital.
___Invite the legislator to visit your organization or community.
___Arrange a meeting between the legislator and a community group or a group of your organization's participants.
___Have an initial phone conversation with the legislator or aide.
___Testify at a legislative hearing or public comment session.
___Organize a legislative briefing or other similar event.
___Get an introduction from a mutual acquaintance.
___Introduce yourself to legislators and aides at functions where they're present.
How do you establish and maintain relationships?
___You keep contact after your initial meeting.
___You attend fundraisers and other events honoring the legislator.
___You have real conversations with legislators and their aides.
___You ask for and follow legislators' and aides' advice.
___You establish yourself as an absolutely reliable source of information.
___You thank legislators for their help at every opportunity.
___You respect legislators' and aides' limitations and priorities.
___You don't abuse the relationship.