Presentation on theme: "INITIATING & BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS With Members of Congress."— Presentation transcript:
INITIATING & BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS With Members of Congress
“RELATIONSHIP WITH MEMBER OF CONGRESS” Why is this a weird phrase? Most people don’t know who their MoC is They seem like mythical figures to many—showing up on TV and during elections They can seem bigger than life, associated with millions of dollars, fiscal cliffs, and power, and we can see ourselves as somehow unworthy of having a relationship with them
THE TRUTH They are just people—some former teachers, small business people, etc. They work for us—we select them through voting, we pay their salaries They can’t and don’t know everything, and in most cases we know more about our issues than they do It is our right and out duty to have a relationship with them—without us, who are they listening to? How will they know what is important to us?
WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER Source: Congressional Management Foundation
WE NEED TO THINK DIFFERENTLY “At the annual conference, meetings with members of congress are like one night stands. Hot, heavy, and intense. However, one night stands don’t have lasting impact. We want impact, not intensity. Instead of a one-night stand, I see the relationship with a member of congress as an arranged marriage. If you live in her district, the member’s aide has to meet with you. That’s what Cantor’s legislative director told us in January. Since then, we’ve met four times with the LD. We schedule 45 minutes with him. He keeps us for well over an hour. He doesn’t want us to leave! Why? Because a good arranged marriage starts out cold and heats up over time. That’s different than a love match, which starts out hot and slowly cools down. “ --Ellie Sparks, Citizen Climate Lobby
WHAT MAKES RELATIONSHIPS WORK? 1. Be aware of what you and your partner want for yourselves and what you want from the relationship. 2. Let one another know what your needs are. 3. Realize that your partner will not be able to meet all your needs. Some of these needs will have to be met outside of the relationship. 4. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the things you want from one another. 5. Do not demand that a partner change to meet all your expectations. Work to accept the differences between your ideal mate and the real person you are dating. 6. Try to see things from the other's point of view. This doesn't mean that you must agree with one another all the time, but rather that both of you can understand and respect each other's differences, points of view, and separate needs. 7. Where critical differences do exist in your expectations, needs, or opinions, try to work honestly and sincerely to negotiate. Seek professional help early rather than waiting until the situation becomes critical. 8. Do your best to treat your partner in a way that says, "I love you and trust you, and I want to work this out.” --Eight Basic Steps to Maintaining a Good Relationship
MEMBER OF CONGRESS UNIVERSE C onstituents Staff Colleagues Media Paid Lobbyists Experts Personal History
INITIATING RELATIONSHIPS, STEP #2 1. Research the people we want to get to know: Internet, web page, newsletter, statements, public appearances. On our website: Take Action > Researching Your Member of Congress in the green box will yield bio, contact info, staff, committees, PAC contributions, etc. Member’s website: or check out the bio, issues sections, and news sections. Sign up for the newsletter.www.house.govwww.senate.gov Project Vote-Smart: bio, interest group ratings, speeches and statements, etc.
INITIATE RELATIONSHIPS, STEP #2 1. Reach out. Send letters and other correspondences. Congratulate, comment, request. Introduce yourself to the aide working on the issues you care about Introduce yourself at a public gathering Have a friend introduce you Schedule a meeting Other ideas?
PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RELATIONSHIP TO CREATE TRUST Know who they are: what are they saying, what do they care about? Pay attention to what they are doing Thank them, mention them favorably in the media Show up at events Talk to influencers Be collaborative Listen and be respectful Ask for ideas and opinions Find common experiences, values, attitudes, beliefs: look for relatedness
FINDING THE CRACK What do they care about? What are they concerned about? Where can you find common ground? What do we look for? Examples on foreign assistance: Small business and economy: how does foreign assistance relate to that? Defense: how does foreign assistance make us safer? Party: What does former AIDS czar under Bush have to say about the Global Fund and US investments? Sanctity of Life: “The United States has always been a compassionate nation that cherishes innocent human life at all stages of development, from conception to natural death.” From Rep. Patrick McHenry’s website. What is the easiest thing you can get him/her to do that is in line with their interests and values?
INTEGRITY Our words and actions should match what is in our hearts—it’s hard to fake relationships: Be an ally where possible Defend when appropriate Acknowledge what they do that you approve of Find common ground with the Rep’s allies and supporters Clear your heart of dislike and give him/her a real chance to succeed
THE GATEKEEPERS Your opportunity to get in person with the Rep. can depend on a couple of gatekeepers The aide(s) the works on the issues you are working on The scheduler Message: “I'm writing to congratulate the Representative and the entire staff on last night's win. Can you please see that Rep. McHenry gets that message (the website doesn't allow me to sign up for a newsletter yet—I assume it will in January)? Also, I want to let you know that we are looking forward to working with you on foreign affairs issues over the coming two years. I hope you can breath easy a bit and focus on the work of the people now that the election is over.” Response: “Sorry in the delay in getting back to you! I was out of the office for most of last week and still catching up on s. Yes, I believe everything will change over in January after he’s sworn in to the 113 th Congress. Thank you so much for your kind note, and I will be sure to pass it along to Congressman McHenry.”
BEING FIRM, HONEST, CLEAR IS OK Relationships are two-way, and are “arranged” in the case of MoCs What to do if the aide doesn’t respond or move the agenda? What does the conversation sound like when a member isn’t responsive? What to do if the scheduler doesn’t respond?
THE AIDE Non-responsive: “I know you are busy. I have a time-sensitive request I’ve sent you several times--I’m guessing you haven’t had time to get to it. If I don’t hear from you by tomorrow I’ll reach out to the Chief of Staff to make sure it gets addressed.” “We are thinking of sending this letter to the paper, do you think it’s accurate?” Are they supportive? “Do you have the information you need, and are you convinced enough to recommend that the Rep./Senator take this action?” “Can you help us get a meeting with the Rep./Senator?” “What did you think of the media we sent you?” Deepening the Relationship “Would you be willing to meet with us by conference call every few months or at least quarterly ?”
THE SCHEDULER-THE GATEKEEPER Be kind to whoever answers the call in DC or the district—they can be gatekeepers to the scheduler. Ask for the scheduler’s name. Develop a relationship in the district as they can help you with the scheduler Be kind, polite, but persistent with the scheduler. Ask questions to get to know them—”How long have you been doing this? Must be a challenging job. Do you like living in DC? What’s next for you?” You have a right to request a meeting with the MoC. You can provide general information on why you want to meet, but don’t have to provide specifics. Send in the written requests as asked, follow up weekly. If he/she isn’t in, do leave polite, follow up voic s. Send follow ups—remain polite. If scheduler not responding, ask receptionist to put a note on his/her chair to call you.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS “We are interested in addressing issues of poverty because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes us stronger…Of the areas we work in, what are you passionate about?” “We understand you listen to your constituents. How many people would you have to hear from to take action on this issue?” “We’ve met with you a number of times to speak with these issues, and there are many people who care about them. What do you need from us in order to take action on xxx?” “We want to support you in creating a powerful legacy on addressing poverty. How can we work together to do this?” Use the Champion Scale for ideas on what’s next.
WHAT MAKES RELATIONSHIPS WORK? 1. Be aware of what you and your partner want for yourselves and what you want from the relationship. 2. Let one another know what your needs are. 3. Realize that your partner will not be able to meet all your needs. Some of these needs will have to be met outside of the relationship. 4. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the things you want from one another. 5. Do not demand that a partner change to meet all your expectations. Work to accept the differences between your ideal mate and the real person in front of you. 6. Try to see things from the other's point of view. This doesn't mean that you must agree with one another all the time, but rather that both of you can understand and respect each other's differences, points of view, and separate needs. 7. Where critical differences do exist in your expectations, needs, or opinions, try to work honestly and sincerely to negotiate. Seek professional help early rather than waiting until the situation becomes critical. 8. Do your best to treat your partner in a way that says, "I love you and trust you, and I want to work this out.” --Eight Basic Steps to Maintaining a Good Relationship