This is a helpful guideline, but it’s better to let the meeting flow than try to follow a firm agenda.
Small talk. This often begins while walking with the staffer from the waiting room to a conference room. “How’s your day going?” “Is this a busy time of year for your office?” “I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me.”
Show them some love. Whether Democrat or Republican a congressional office can safely assume that half the country doesn’t like them. They have an endless stream of angry emails, phone calls and in-person interactions. The sooner you can convey that you come in peace, the sooner they’ll let their guard down and be more receptive to the message. Hopefully, during your pre-meeting research you were able to find something good that they’ve done relevant to the issue. Thank them for their support on that bill or issue.
Problem. Paint a picture of the problem being discussed. If applicable this is a good time to work in personal stories or eye-opening stats. Solution. Discuss how the problem is preventable and share success stories regarding how it has been addressed before. Discuss how the bill you are discussing will help reduce the problem.
Make the “Ask”. “I would like to see Sen. Jones cosponsor the Federal Flood Insurance Program Legislation.” Why it matters to them. The staffer needs talking points to sell the bill to the political leader. The political leader needs talking points to sell it to the public.
Wrap it up. “Thank you for your time. Is there a good time to follow-up? Should I contact you or is there someone in particular you’d like me to follow-up with?”
How to Format Your Meeting:
Establish rapport/friendliness. If they like you, they’ll be helpful, bring the issue up with the congressional leader and keep you coming back for more meetings.
Educate them about the issues (particularly the importance of independent insurance agents).
Engage. Work in statements like, “If you have a chance please visit our website at www.iiabaz.com to learn more about these topics and the other issues we are working on.
Where to go: Most likely, you will be directed to the main district office of the representative. You can find this address by visiting www.Congress.org or by visiting the government affairs section of our website at www.iiabaz.com
What to bring: White papers or background sheets to distribute, your own personal notes, as well as copies of any bill(s) you are discussing. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest materials.
What to wear: Look good… look darn good. You are an ambassador for the independent insurance community. Business or business casual.
Lobbying is simply having a conversation with a person and communicating what you would like to see happen. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the do’s and don’ts. Go to the meeting, try to find common ground and form a connection with the person.
Likeability is everything. If you walk out of the room with them liking you, then they will be more likely to give your issue more attention and have you back for more meetings.
Use trigger words and tailor your message to the members of Congress you are speaking with. When speaking with a Republican or a Democrat focus on the types of policy they might be most interested in.
Think like them. When you’re in the meeting keep in mind that…
The staffer has to explain the bill or issue to their boss. From you, the staffer needs to hear marketable talking points (it will help small business, etc.)
The political leader has to return to their congressional district and explain to voters why they’re supporting insurance agents. From you they need to hear talking points that they can relay to voters (improves the economy, etc).
Political leaders frequently justify their vote on bills by saying they had lots of people contact them in support of it, this is why we need YOUR help lobbying.