A face-to-face meeting with a Member of Congress or one of their congressional staff is one of the best ways to communicate your message and effect change. You can meet with the Member or his/her representative in Washington, DC or in your home district. Either way, make sure to plan your meeting well in advance. It’s key to keep in mind that Members are often in their home districts during holidays and Congressional recesses, so those are often the best times to schedule in-district meetings.
To schedule a meeting with a Member of Congress:
Most offices require a written request for a meeting. This request can be faxed or emailed to the Member’s office.
- Follow up your request with a phone call to the Member’s office. Ask to speak with the Member’s schedule or appointment secretary. Identify yourself and if you represent any organization. Explain what you would like to discuss during the meeting and identify any sense of urgency to your issue. It is easier for the scheduler to make you an appointment if he/she knows what you want to discuss, who will be attending the meeting and why you think the issue is of importance to the Member of Congress.
- Once the meeting is scheduled, send any background information or materials that you have the Member’s office with a cover letter that restates the time and purpose of the meeting. If you are speaking on an issue relevant to ANAC, we may be able to assist you with background materials. Please call the National Office at 330-670-0101 if you would like assistance.
- If you are going to the meeting with a group, make sure to strategize with the group in advance of the meeting. Identify who will speak about which issues and what you would like to achieve from the meeting. You should identify a lead person to deliver your key message.
Suggestions for the Actual Meeting:
- Be prompt, patient and flexible. The Member or his/her aide may be late, and the meeting may be interrupted.
- Be prepared to answer questions and bring a packet of information and materials with you to give to the Member or aide. If you do not know the answer to a specific question, do not make one up. Instead, say that you will get back to the Member or aide with the answer. Make sure to provide the answer in a timely manner once the meeting has ended.
- Use personal or real-life examples to illustrate the points that you are making.
- Make an offer to assist the Member or aide with this issue in the future. Leave your contact information and offer to be a resource.
- Request a response from the Member or aide about how he/she is going to take action on your issue. Be polite but direct about asking what the Member’s views and position about your issue are.
- Every member of your group should follow up the meeting with a thank you note within one week of the meeting.