How to Meet With Members of Congress

2017-03-15 | , CQ Roll Call (AACU Member Benefit)

Dec. 2, 2014 - Last month's election brought scores of new faces to Capitol Hill, meaning that associations and advocacy groups will be working hard to introduce themselves and make their case to incoming lawmakers and staff.

In a timely bit of reporting, the Congressional Management Foundation released a study recently that draws on interviews with roughly 450 congressional staffers explaining how to best handle these meetings.

That means they have data — not just opinions and suggestions — on how members of Congress and their staff want to be contacted and what procedures are likely to result in influential face time.

As the report put it, "getting on their calendars and influencing the policy decision-making process requires preparation and a little finesse on the part of advocates."

Congress Wants to Meet You

Lawmakers work as many as 70 hours a week when Congress is in session and take up to 13 meetings a day, the research shows. "They are bombarded from all sides with data and opinions, many of them unsolicited," the report said.

How to Meet With Members of CongressBut in-person meetings with constituents carry the most weight when it comes to influencing policy decisions. In fact, in a separate Congressional Management Foundation study, fully 95 percent of House members said that staying in touch with constituents was critical to their effectiveness.

"Whether someone is a member of an association, an employee of a business, a supporter of a nonprofit or interest group, or just a constituent with something to say, Senators and Representatives want to hear from their constituents," the report said.