Hill Visit Do’s and Don’ts
During Hill Visits, Do…
- Do proper research on your members of Congress before your meetings; learn their committee assignments, specialties and interest
- Wear professional attire when meeting with your legislator.
- Check in early with the receptionist and be prepared to wait if needed – congressional schedules are hectic. It takes about 20 minutes to cross from the House side to the Senate side. If you are running late, call the office as a courtesy.
- Select two or three recent issues and be prepared to focus on them. Review and rehearse the key points you want to make. Most Hill visits are brief (15–20 minutes). Lastly, make a definite request for action.
- Be political and concise. Introduce yourself and say where you live (confirming that you are a constituent). Establish a connection to the issue you plan to discuss by using personal and local examples and relate situations to the member’s home state or district to emphasize the need for his or her support.
- Take a few notes. Write down whom you met with and jot down their responses to your questions and requests.
- Follow up by sending a thank you letter and reiterate the points made during your meeting. If you said you would provide more information—provide it. This is your opportunity to prove that you are a resource.
During Hill Visits, Don’t …
- Overload a congressional visit with too many issues (aim for two or three at most).
- Expect elected officials to be specialists. Their schedules and workloads tend to make them generalists.
- Be afraid to take a stand on an issue. The legislator wants to hear what you have to say.
- Be offended if, due to scheduling conflicts, your legislator requests that you meet with a staff person. (Staff are often more important in shaping policy decisions)