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Advocacy365: How to Hold an In-District Meeting
By Amanda Stratton, Manager, Grassroots & Advocacy Outreach
As mentioned in the first article of this series, the most important part of being an AIA advocate is building relationships with your members of Congress and their staff, your state and local legislators, and other advocates in your community. The most effective was to build these relationships is by meeting with your members of Congress and their staff in person. You don’t have to travel to Washington, D.C. to do so – meetings can be held right in your hometown!
Through the year, Congress designates times for in-district work periods. During these times, members set aside time specifically for meeting with their constituents to stay abreast of the important issues affecting the district. The in-district work periods are listed on both the House and Senate calendars. If you are interested in holding an in-district meeting, it is best to target one of these work periods.
Scheduling an in-district meeting may seem like a daunting process, but it is actually very simple. To assist you in the scheduling process, we have outlined the steps to holding the meeting:
1. Submit a scheduling request. While you do not have to provide specific details, make sure to include the main topic of the meeting in your request. Most offices require that you submit these requests via email. You can access a sample scheduling request here. Tip: Remain flexible as to the date of your meeting. Flexibility on your part allows you to worked with the Congressman’s packed scheduled and increases the likelihood that you get the meeting.
2. Follow up, follow up, follow up. After your meeting request is submitted, follow up with the district scheduler via phone. You may have to follow up more than once. Member offices get numerous meeting requests per day, so persistence is key to ensuring your request is on top of the list.
3. Determine talking points and leave-behind materials. Having set talking points for your meeting ensures that you get your point across clearly and succinctly. There are draft talking points available here, but you should also contact AIA Advocacy for the latest issues you should include.
4. Invite other AIA members. Once you have the meeting scheduled, contact other AIA members in your community to attend. There is strength in numbers – having multiple AIA members in attendance shows that the issues are important to numerous constituents. Let AIA Advocacy staff know the date and time of your meeting as well.
5. Attend the meeting. Brief all attendees on the talking points beforehand to ensure all are on the same page. In the meeting, stick to your talking points and walk the legislator through your supplementary materials. Members often have limited time available, so staying on message is crucial to delivering your key points. Remember to take photos and video to send to AIA Advocacy.
6. Send a thank you letter to the legislator after the meeting. Within a few days of your meeting, send a thank you letter to the legislator and any staff in attendance. You should also thank the staff member who assisted with the scheduling. Tip: Reiterate the key messages in your talking points in your thank you letter to remind the staff what was discussed.
7. Provide photos and feedback to AIA member attendees and Advocacy staff. Thank AIA members who attended the meeting, and send a summary of the meeting and any photos taken to AIA Advocacy staff. These will be promoted on the Advocacy website and social media properties.
We hope these steps show you just how simple it is to schedule a meeting with your legislators. If you have any questions during the process, the Advocacy staff are here to guide and assist you.
Government & Community Relations Archive:
This content is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact the AIA’s Government & Community Relations team, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.