Even the best hurdlers in the world will tell you they only jump over one hurdle at a time. And although there may be several to jump in a race, they focus on that one directly in front of them.
This type focus can apply to your advocacy efforts as well. I get it can often be a daunting and even an unwelcome challenge to engage in advocacy. So if you’ve been avoiding it or putting it on the bottom of your priority list, here’s some advice to get you back on track.
Hurdle #1 – Be realistic about why you’re avoiding it. It’s too hard, takes too much time, doesn’t make a difference, don’t know your lawmaker or you simply don’t know where to begin.
Hurdle #2 – Once you know why, then think about what to do next. And since a strong relationship is at the heart of successful advocacy, concentrate on building that relationship with legislators. Your other efforts won’t work without it.
Hurdle #3 – If it’s time constraints holding you back, do some very simple, quick advocacy that focuses on the relationship. That may include sending an email saying “Hello” or “How can I help you?’ Or maybe it’s just inviting your legislator (and their staff) to attend an upcoming council, board of directors or membership meeting. BTW…giving them a few minutes to speak is always a good idea as well.
Hurdle #4 – If it’s a perception that it’s too hard…refer to hurdle three! Those very effective strategies couldn’t be any simpler to initiate.
Hurdle #5 – If you think it really doesn’t make a difference, I’ll let one of Florida’s most respected legislators tell you otherwise.
“The best advice I can give is local government and staff is to spend time with state elected officials outside of session. Often when were in session, things are moving quickly and their juggling 100 other things.
Engage them locally when they’re at home. Show them why you’re unique and different and the impact of what you do. Have a real conversation with them about how certain policy that come from Tally can impact your municipality. But don’t just have the conversation about the negative effect, but also some of the positive policies that can work hand in hand to benefit your community.” – State Representative Bobby DuBose (D-94)
Hurdle #6 – If you have a newly elected legislator (or you’ve just been elected or appointed to a board), then start by sending a congratulatory, handwritten note. And I would recommend sending one to their staff as well. Then follow-up by asking for a face-to-face meeting simply to get to know one another. Invite them to meet for coffee or meet them at their office. Either way, this introductory meeting (and your effort to initiate it) will be appreciated and remembered by the lawmaker and their staff.
Hurdle #7 – If you don’t know where to begin refer to hurdle six! This works…and it’s the perfect way to begin building the relationship.
So now that you’re ready to run the race, stay focused and you will come out a winner and successful advocate!
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy