Complacency Can Be Costly!

It’s so easy somedays to hit the snooze button and not to go to the gym. Isn’t it?  We convince ourselves that we’ll get up tomorrow and work out twice as hard. But then one day becomes two, two becomes three and so on and so on. Until we’re out of shape and have to start over.

Advocacy can be the same. Sometimes, especially during the summer it’s easy to become complacent and put off your advocacy strategies until later. This can be especially true when you know the legislative session is months away.

However, in the course of my interviews with Florida lawmakers we’ve asked them about the timing to request appropriations. Each and every one of them (both Republican and Democrats) have said it’s NEVER too early to ask…and the sooner the better! That means complacency won’t work, and could result in your city, town, association or organization not getting the money you need next year. Below are some tips to help you:

  • Start by having a conversation with your legislator(s) about your needs.
  • Follow-up with a tour (if applicable) of your project or facility so they can see exactly what you want funded and why.
  • If you received appropriations in the last session, share details about how you have utilized those funds and what they have done to benefit your city, town, organization, etc. An informed lawmaker is much more likely to help you!
  • Talk with the legislator’s staff about what specific information they need to help you.
  • Continue communication with them about the project, organization, etc.. This is especially true if something changes between now and when they submit the appropriations request.
  • Be ready to work for what you want. Some lawmakers may expect you to do the majority of the work to secure an appropriation while some may do it for you. But it is best to be prepared either way.

Want to discover more strategies to help you get the dollars you need? Email me to get a copy of my Appropriation Strategies Checklist and be sure to get a copy of my new book A Journey To Yes.

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#YourJourneyStartsToday

They Don’t Listen to Us Anyway!

So why should I bother? “They’ve already made up their mind when it’s time to vote, so they don’t want to listen nor do they care what I have to say”?

Sadly, I’ve heard these comments (and yes…excuses) more times than I can count for why people don’t engage lawmakers. But I can tell you from personal experience this is simply not true. In fact, it couldn’t be further from the truth. But what is true is that, on many occasions, legislators are looking to you to help educate them on an issue and help them decide how to vote.

And what’s also true is this. There is ALWAYS an opponent to every issue, no matter how popular it might be. And I promise your opponent isn’t staying silent! So you if choose not to get involved, lawmakers will only be hearing one side of the story and will think you don’t care or are happy with the status quo.

Legislators are incredibly busy, especially during the legislative session. They have several meetings each day with constituents, lobbyists and their colleagues. During these encounters, they hear countless bills, which means they don’t have the luxury of time to research and read every one. They often rely upon advocates like you to share what the legislation does (or doesn’t do), who will be affected, and how.

And this is where every advocate has the opportunity to be effective, from the novice to the veteran. You know your business, community or organization, and its people better than anyone. This means NO ONE, not even a professional lobbyist, can tell our story better than you!

No matter how discouraged you may get, or disgusted at the behavior of a few, keep this in mind: If you drop out, you leave the field to your opponents. – Joel Blackwell, Keep On Voting After the Election: How Ordinary People Can Get What They Want From Government. 

So can you really afford to stay silent or do nothing?

YOU have the power to influence the political landscape in your community! So speak out, speak up and get engaged today!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

#AJourneyToYes #YourJourneyStartsToday

 

Let’s Talk about I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E.

As I shared in my last post, the summer for advocates is anything but “lazy”! In fact it’s the time of year when you should be busier ever examining your relationships to ensure the are where they need to be when it’s time to influence leaders. To help you become the advocate you want to be, I’d like to share a brief story and some tips on how you can ensure your relationship with lawmakers is strong.

This post is a bit long, but I hope you’ll read it to the end. Trust me…it’s worth the time!

When I worked with the Florida League of Cities, they had a program to identify relationships between local and state officials. The purpose being so when it was time to contact lawmakers about a bill, they had a list of local advocates who could help them.

Unfortunately on occasion, those relationships were exaggerated and that eventually backfired, especially when the legislator made it very clear the relationship was not nearly as strong as perceived.

To prevent you from getting caught in this situation, think about the acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E. It stands for I need to fully list, understand and evaluate the nuances of my relationship and commit to excellence.

So here are some questions to help recommit to and encure you’re read to influence leaders. But be very honest in your responses! Like in golf, cheating on your score doesn’t make you a better player, it just gives a falsehood to brag about and could put your city, business or organization in an awkward position that may be difficult to explain!

  1. Can I easily list their name and the anmes of the family?
  2. Do I know their profession and do we have anythign in common in this area?
  3. If I saw them socially, would we seek out and interact with each other?
  4. Are they a veteran or actively serving in our country’s military?
  5. What is their educational and professional background? Do we have aything in common in this area?
  6. If they run a small business, what type of business is it? Do we have anything in common?
  7. If asked, could I share their legislative priorities or campaign platform with some else?
  8. Does one of their priorities align with that of my business, city, or organization? Are they aware of this and have I offered to help them advance it?
  9. Who are the people on their staff and have I made any efforts to build a relationship with them?
  10. Would they contact me about my city, business, or organization if they had any questions I could answer?
  11. Have I made an effort to familiarize them with my city, business or organization?
  12. Do I follow them on social media and comment on any of their posts, tweets, and the like?
  13. Did I congratulate them on their election or re-election? (when applicable)
  14. When was the last time I said, “Thank you for your service?”

If you answered honestly, then this quick assessment can serve to highlight the area on which you need to work, which is a good thing? Knowing there’s room for improvement can help you focus on the strategies that will turn the no into ayes, thus leading to further success as an advocate!

Want to learn more about these and many other strategies for advocates? Be sure to check out a copy of my new book A Journey To Yes.

What readers are saying about A Journey To Yes:

After reading this book, I want to get more involved as an advocate, and I feel Ms. Till has given me clear-cut steps to do so. The book is well-organized, specific, thorough, encouraging, and positive. She liberally uses personal experience as examples which makes the book compelling. I believe anyone could be a successful advocate if they follow the advice in this concise, easy to comprehend book. – Dr. Nancy Kendall

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

YOU Have The Power to Affect Change

That’s right YOU! Because despite the myths or public perception, the voice of the constituent is the most powerful one a lawmaker at any level of government wants and needs to hear. But I do know that when it comes to advocacy, it’s easy to get complacent during the summer. I get it/ With candidates focused on campaigns and families focused on vacations, it seems like there’s nothing to do that’s worth the time and effort. BUT THERE IS!

And your voice and engagement should start in your own backyard. So here are some tips to keep you busy and engaged this summer without ever having to leave your community!

Continue to Build the Relationship with your Local Elected Officials – These are the people that make the decisions that have more of an impact on your daily life than any other level of government. So I ask you…Can you really afford NOT to make an effort to get to know them?

A strong relationship with your local leaders is just as important as the one you develop with state legislators. They are counting on you to keep them informed of issues affecting your business, organization or neighborhood. So invite them for a cup of coffee to talk about what’s going on.

Be an Informed Advocate – Attend council meetings, and most especially those meetings when they’re discussing the budget. This is a great strategy to learn about the fiscal health/challenges facing your community in the coming year.

Consider joining a citizen advisory board if your schedule permits – This is an excellent way to stay informed about what’s happening in your city and to actively participate in shaping its future. Your local government is always looking for citizens that want to get involved. And when the time is right, this means you can communicate that information with legislators.

Help your Neighbors Be Informed – Work, school, family, civic or public service. These may be just a few of the many “hats” you wear every day. And it’s likely your colleagues or neighbors are the same. So making time to learn about your city or Municipal Home Rule can be a challenge. But you can help. Invite your Mayor or Commissioners to talk with a group of neighbors or business colleagues about Home Rule. The more they know, the more likely they are to join you in any efforts to protect this valuable and necessary local authority.

So take some time now to get involved, get informed and stay engaged. By doing so, you’ll be on the right path to your #JourneyToYes!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

What readers are saying about A Journey To Yes…

“This is a very readable book, written in a conversational tone from Ms. Till’s personal and professional experience in advocacy. It’s full of tips and specific steps that individuals and groups can take to promote their cause to legislators. The information is VERY transferable to other scenarios, such as nonprofit work, that depend on good relationships.”Muffet Robinson, Director of Marketing & Communications, Pathlight HOME, Orlando

THE SECRETS REVEALED!

What gets and keeps a lawmaker’s attention? Is it money, power, prestige? What about hundreds of people advocating to right an injustice? In some instances the answer to each question is yes! But what if you don’t have any of those things to offer? Is all hope lost? The answer to that question is definitely no because at the heart of influencing a lawmaker is a strong relationship. But how do you build or strengthen that relationship?

SECRET #1 – YOUR FRIENDSHIP ALWAYS COMES FIRST AND LAST!
When you think about a dear friend, what comes to mind? In many respects, building and maintaining a relationship with lawmakers takes nurturing the same trust, respect over time. And once you’ve developed that friendship, it far outweighs any legislation or issues you will work on.

SECRET #2 – SPEND TIME EXAMINING YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS
When I worked for the Florida League of Cities, they had a program to identify relationships between local and state officials. Unfortunately on occasion, those relationships were exaggerated and that eventually backfired. To prevent you from getting caught in this situation, it is always a good idea to spend a few moments examining your relationship status. As you do, I encourage you to think about the acronym I.N.F.L.U.E.N.C.E. It stands for I need to fully list, understand and evaluate the nuances of my relationship and commit to excellence.

SECRET #3 – HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
The first rule of thumb when it comes to building the relationship is you have to offer something before you can ask for something. Sadly, a sincere offer to help is something lawmakers don’t hear as often as they should, so when they do, it means a lot!

SECRET #4 – JUST SAY, “THANK YOU FOR YOUR PUBLIC SERVICE!”
A rarely used strategy, it’s one of the single most effective thing you can do to build a relationship. My son Jonathan Till worked as a legislative aide for Florida State Representative Danny Burgess. He shared with me they have a file containing every handwritten thank you note they have received.

SECRET #5 – FIND OPPORTUNITIES TO WORK TOGETHER
Does influencing a lawmaker always require a face-to-face meeting? Not necessarily. With very busy schedules (yours and theirs) making time can be difficult. But don’t let this hold you back! Here are some tips to help you have that influence at any time. Learn more about each strategy in A Journey To Yes!

1. Find common ground.
2. Support one of their priorities.
3. Treat their staff with the same respect as you do the legislator and take the time   necessary to get to know them.
4. Introduce them to your circle of influence.

Want to learn more? I encourage you to check out my new book A Journey To Yes. In it I delve deeper into each one of these strategies and many, many more so you too can #StartYourJourneyToday!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

 

Embrace the Detour

This week, I’m going “off the beaten path” to talk about how sometimes you need to embrace the detour along the journey to regain your perspective!

Never one to slow down much, I often continue my work on vacation. While that might sound crazy to some, for me it’s an opportunity to really let the creative juices flow. And upon my return to the regular road I find I come back renewed, refreshed and armed with some of my best ideas and new strategies to share in my books and with my clients.

As an advocate, this summer could be YOUR time to do some reflection about what is working or not working in your efforts to influence leaders. Then embrace the opportunity (detour) and try something new! We’ve all heard the saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. I wholeheartedly support that philosophy, but I also believe that even if it isn’t “broke”, perhaps it needs to be polished or just made more secure.

Throughout my book, A Journey To Yes, I’ve tried to challenge even the most veteran advocates to think outside the box and incorporate a new strategy into their advocacy plan. I encourage you to do the same. And perhaps at the end of your road you too will find a new perspective and renewed energy to become the advocate you want to be!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

Remembering the Fallen this Memorial Day

I Came To Visit You Today

I came to visit you today
To place this flag next to your grave.
The sacrifices you have made
Will forever be indebted this day.

I came to visit you today
To place this flag next to your grave.
It doesn’t matter if you fought or not
‘Cause with that uniform it doesn’t matter what.

I came to visit you today
To place this flag next to your grave.
The memory of what once was you
Still lingers true for those who knew.

I came to visit you today
To place this flag next to your grave
To just say thank you on this Memorial Day.

By: Shauna Ruud, Published: May 2018

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/i-came-to-visit-you-today

Is It Time To Hit the “Reset” Button?

Is there any damaged relationship that is irrepairable? Maybe, especially if trust has been lost. But in many circumstances the answer is, “No…it can be repaired”. This is especially true when it come to advocacy.

Once a legislative session is completed, I always advise my clients to spend time reflecting on their successes and failures, and take a very candid look at any interactions they had with lawmakers. Were those interactions and their outcome what they hoped for? If it was less that expected then perhaps it’s time to hit the “reset button” and start over. That could be changing strategies, trying a new strategy or just stepping up efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Another piece of advice I share with clients, is be willing to take the first step. That starts by meeting with your legislator and literally asking them “Can we hit the reset button and begin anew to find ways to work together?” I promise you, it’s a question they don’t hear very often! And if you are sincere in your efforts, you will earn their respect, and long-term have a stronger, healthier relationship than you had before.

Need some fresh ideas on how to develop a relationship? Then check out my new book, A Journey To Yes and discover strategies for any advocate that help you influence leaders!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy

 

The Stream that Becomes the Waterfall

Two years ago, my husband and I spent some time in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in north Georgia. During our stay we discovered this amazing hiking trail leading up to the Amicalola Falls. It is the tallest waterfall in the southeastern United States at 729 feet, with over 600 steps leading to the top! But what is most amazing is that this massive waterfall starts with as very tiny stream pushed through an even narrower space. 

As an advocate and consultant, one of the things that always amazes me is how one conversation, one email or one phone call (or one small stream), is the catalyst for creating the waterfall in the legislative process. And that is what motivates me (and hopefully other) advocates to keep going, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

Even if things don’t/didn’t go your way during the legislative session this year, a simple note saying, “Thanks for your service”, or “Welcome home” at its conclusion demonstrates you still respect and want to work with your legislators.  

And this my friends is the type of advocacy that is the beginning of the stream, ultimately becoming the waterfall for strengthening a relationship with legislators and leading to your success as an advocate!

Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy Till

Get your copy today of A Journey To Yes and learn more about how YOU can become the waterfall!

 

 

Can You Really Afford to Do Nothing?

Having always been someone who’s willing to forge ahead and try something new, I’ve found over the years that the worst that can happen is nothing! And that is also very true when it comes to advocacy.  But too often I’ve heard advocates share they don’t have time to get involved.

So I’d like to share a brief excerpt from chapter five my book A Journey to Yes in hopes that you too will be willing to try new strategies and “forge ahead” in building your relationships with lawmakers.

There are never enough hours in the day. How often have we all said that, especially when you are trying to balance running a business, meeting family obligations, and serving the public? It’s a juggling act to be sure. Hence, when you think about adding the need to influence leaders into a schedule that’s already jam-packed, it can be a daunting challenge.

Time constraints are a reality for anyone who runs a business, works full-time, raises a family or serves in public office. I get it. But I can’t emphasize enough how imperative making time for advocacy and engaging legislators really is and that means…

You need a plan to succeed! So you’re probably saying, “Duh…why would I plan to fail?” Obviously you wouldn’t, but you might, merely by not creating a plan at all. It happened to me and it was exasperating. I wasted valuable time trying to go in too many directions at once. So I can say from experience you will spend much more time in frustration without a plan than you will if you take the time to create one. So I’d like to share what I call Kathy’s Cannons for Influence Planning.

  1. Spend time thinking
  2. Don’t over-commit
  3. Commit to your success
  4. Current actions can become opportunities to influence leaders
  5. Never stop communicating
  6. Engage your constituents, supporters and customers

By following this 6-step method for creating your Plan to Succeed you’ll soon discover that not only do you have time for advocacy, but will look forward to it and reaps the benefits of advancing relationships with those you are trying to influence!