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Dos and Don'ts of Meeting With Members of Congress

Before the Meeting:

• Do your homework and prepare in advance. Research the Member of Congress' (MOC) voting record, issue statements, and their important issues. Keep these three meeting goals in mind:

  1. To learn more about your MOC
  2. To convey your position on an issue
  3. To find out how the MOC feels about the issue

• Plan your strategy ahead of time and be prepared.
• Make a list of talking points you'd like to cover. Bullet the three to five most important points, and use real examples.  Include questions you'd like to ask of the MOC.
• Be political. MOCs want to represent their constituents (YOU!), so draw a clear connection between what you are requesting and the interests back in the district.
• If your Contact Team is attending the meeting as well, decide who will say what and in what order. If possible, assign a particular area of knowledge to each team member who can answer questions on that topic.
• Be organized and concise. Dress and act like you take the meeting seriously.


During the Meeting:

(You may find that you're meeting with a staff person instead of the MOC due to the MOC's hectic schedule.  That is just fine.  Congressional staff often are the "eyes and ears" for the MOC and regularly advise the MOC on how to vote or stand on the issues.  They can be a valuable asset in your relationship building efforts with your MOC.)

DOS:

• Arrive on time and be polite and friendly.
• Introduce yourself to the receptionist upon your arrival and mention with whom you have an appointment.  Be prepared to wait or to be sent to another location.
• Make sure to get the name and business card of any staff person who sits in on the meeting.  This will help you should you need to follow up after the meeting.
• Be sensitive to the amount of time allotted to you.  Ask up front and if you get 15-20 minutes with your MOC (or staff) that's great!
• Plan on using half of that time to make your point.  If you use less than the allotted time, the MOC or staff will appreciate your consideration of their time constraints.  If you find you need all of the time, that's fine – just don't go over time.
• State your issue, use facts and examples, and ask the MOC if they have a position on the matter.
• Listen.  Don't be discouraged if they refuse to support your position. 
• Thank the MOC for their time, offer your assistance, give them any handouts, and leave.  Don't linger.
• Leave your business card so the MOC or staff can contact you if they need to.  Be sure to offer your assistance/expertise on real estate issues.

DON'TS:

• Don't fail to show up for your scheduled meeting.  Call if you're running late.
• Don't confuse your message by asking for too many things at one time.
• Don't assume that the MOC or staff knows anything about your issue.
• Don't interrupt when the MOC or staff is speaking.  Let them finish their thought or question before jumping in.
• Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."  If you're asked a question to which you do not know the answer, simply say you don't know and let them know that you will find out the answer and get back to them. (Don't forget to get back to them.)
• Don't threaten the MOC if he or she doesn't agree with your views on the issue.
• Don't underestimate your importance.  As a voter, you have power.  Your power is your vote and your ability to influence the votes of others in your community.


After the Meeting

DOS:

• Send a thank you note that includes the points covered during the meeting and send along any additional information or materials you promised.
• Follow through on any promises you made to the MOC or staff.
• FILE A FIELD REPORT.
• Send the MOC a note of support when they do or say something in favor of your issue.  This is especially important if the MOC was on your side, and your side was the unfavorable one overall.
• Support the MOC with personal contributions to their campaign or volunteer to help in their re-election. 

Call for Action + Issue Awareness 

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