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Section 11. Developing and Maintaining Ongoing Relationships with Legislators and their Aides

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.