Thursday, May 21, 2009

How To: Make an Appointment with an Elected Official

There's no better way to let your elected officials know what's on your mind than to actually tell them. The U.S. Congress will be on Memorial Day recess next week (Tuesday, May 26 to Friday, May 29) so many Members will be at home in their districts. Save yourself a trip to DC and make your appointment to meet with your Member today!

But how do you make an appointment? Below we've outlined 5 simple steps to make an appointment with your elected official. Our model is based on meeting with Members of Congress, but the same basics are applicable whether you're trying to meet with a member of the school board or the majority leader of your state senate.
  1. Request the meeting as far in advance as possible, but no more than a month out. (Schedules won't be set and it'll be hard to set a firm date and time.)
  2. If the Member is not available, accept a meeting with the appropriate staff person. Staff are influential and a great resource - meeting with them is as valuable as meeting with your elected official.
  3. When calling or emailing an office, ask for the scheduler’s name so you can address them directly.
  4. Send the meeting request per their preference.
    • Include your complete contact information.
    • Clearly state what issue or topic you wish to discuss, so the scheduler can direct you to the right staff member if your Member is not available.
    • Save other background materials for your meeting.
5. Follow-up by phone and email.
    • Meetings with Members may not be secured until a day or two before the meeting.
    • Be flexible – every office is different!
Any readers have other tips for making an appointment?

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