You know that cousin who only calls when they need something? As you’ve probably told them, this isn’t a great strategy for getting what you want.
The smarter move is to build an authentic, ongoing relationship.
Over the past 20 years, our friends at the Congressional Management Foundation have surveyed congressional staff three times to better understand how their constituents can make an impact. One big recommendation? Meet or get to know the Legislative Assistant who has jurisdiction over the issues you care about. (A legislative assistant is a staff person who works on Capitol Hill and manages a portfolio of issues, like health care, transportation, education, and much more.) Nearly 80% of staffers surveyed said this was the way to go.
Also wise? Meet or get to know the district or state director in your rep’s office. This recommendation came from 62% of staffers surveyed. You’ll find this person in one of the district offices, closer to where you live, meaning you don’t need to go all the way to Washington, D.C. for face time.
There’s no need to wait until you have an urgent ask – you can, and should, reach out to start building a relationship now. Here’s how to get started.