Connecting with Legislators
Four Steps to Building a Successful Legislative Connection
Get to know the targeted legislator. This is first and foremost, and does not happen overnight if the relationship is new. Personal contact with the legislator is key: attend and be vocal at Hike meetings, send thank you letters and/or personal notes, invite them to your credit union and to your chapter, make regular phone calls, initiate any personal contact. Make the contact spontaneous, not “canned” for successful relationship growth.
Get to know what is important to the legislator. Sign up for their e-newsletters, follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook. Attend their town hall meetings, in-district events, and be present at some of their fundraisers. Learn what civic organizations and/or charity events are near and dear to the legislator, or ones where they are a member and join. At any function, make it a point to have them know that you are there, and are following what is important to them. Listen to what their needs are outside of credit union needs . . . not only do you learn something about the legislator and create potential bonds, but you may discover hidden opportunities for credit unions.
Share information. Legislators are not subject matter experts on all things. It is important that they receive information on our industry, and if they receive it from someone they know, someone they trust, someone in their district who they understand what is important to them and vice versa . . . then that information has much more of an impact. There are countless resources that are available on consumer habits and financial trends that legislators find valuable in understanding the local, state, and national economic nuances. It equally important to share information back to the Government Influence Team on insight gleaned from interactions so as to strengthen the entire grassroots activities on issues. By sharing activity, the entire advocacy process can be sharpened for key legislators.
Stay engaged with your targeted legislator. Many credit union advocates already have a connection with a legislator; they attend the same church, civic group meetings, see them in the community, or have a business relationship . . . some of them may even be your credit union members! Having an existing connection with a legislator is a great way to build a strong relationship that can benefit for years to come. Personal contact with the legislator is key: attend and be vocal at Hike meetings, send thank you letters and/or personal notes, invite them to your credit union and to your chapter, make regular phone calls, initiate any personal contact to grow the relationship. Make the contact spontaneous, not “canned” for successful growth.