When it comes to identifying and cultivating contacts and influential individuals who can assist you with your issue, it is never too early to begin. Start working with key decision makers on your issue as early as possible. Make it a priority to identify leaders that other congressional members will look toward regarding the development of their own position on the issue.
photo credit: bkabak
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to neglect top leaders and other influential members as these are the people who can quickly influence other members. If you do not take action quickly enough and reach them first, key leaders can easily become solidified against your position on that issue if your opponents persuade them first.
One of the first steps you must take is to identify and then connect with anyone who might be a champion for your cause. Identify key committee and personal staff early on. And you need to work both the Senate and the House. It can be quite easy to neglect one chamber of Congress when all of the action is taking place in the other chamber, but that is a mistake. Make certain you work and monitor both chambers at the same time.
Do not make the mistake of waiting until the bill has made its way out of committee to begin contacting influential members and leadership. While it can be a challenge to gain the attention of influential members and leaders on an issue before it is out of committee, you must make the effort. Begin grassroots activity early on to help ensure all members are familiar with your issue and have some knowledge about it. This is particularly important if it is possible your issue might quickly move to the floor.
At the same time, continue cultivating your contacts. On Capitol Hill, memories are relatively short-lived. You must continually work on maintaining contacts and your own usefulness as a reliable and credible resource. It takes skill to provide information that is valuable while avoiding the trap of becoming annoying, a skill worth developing.
Reference: Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak, Section 8.12 Lobby Tips and Section 8.13 Continually Cultivate Contacts
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