How to talk with a Representative or Senator
- Start with the basics. Tell the member of the General Assembly or the staff person where you are from in the district, how long you have lived there, where you work and what you do. If they were newly elected or re-elected be sure to congratulate them accordingly.
- Gauge their level of understanding. Not all visits are created equal. Sometimes staffers or members of the General Assembly may be more familiar with audiology-related legislation than others. Tailor your visit accordingly. This may entail providing more detail on what an audiologist does and how issues may impact constituents in the district.
- Get down to business. Get your “ask” out right away. For example, “I’m here to talk about legislation that will be introduced for Audiology to be licensed in the upcoming Session. Ask for their support. I was hoping the Congressman would sign on as a co-sponsor or support the bill.”
- Keep it simple. Highlight the basics of the legislation. Trying to remember every detail can be overwhelming. Stay within your comfort zone. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I can get back to you.” Academy staff can help you with your follow-up response or can be a resource in answering any remaining questions.
- What can you do? A good way to end the meeting is to ask the staff person what the Profession can do to get the member of Congress’ support. Feedback often includes showing grassroots support for legislation through constituent letters and phone calls, or simply providing more information on the bill.
- Provide materials. Bring some business cards, issue briefs (these will be available soon through the website), and other relevant information. Leave these materials behind to encourage follow-up.
- Stay informed. Ask the staff person how you can keep up-to-date on district events and updates to make the meeting go more smoothly.
- Do some homework ahead of time.
- Find a common thread. Do you and your senator or representative share the same alma mater? Have friends in common? Hail from the same hometown? Adding a personal touch helps to strengthen the connection.
- Set political differences aside. We don’t all agree on political issues, but we are unified in our mission to promote audiology-related legislation. Even if you didn’t vote for your representative or senator, their support is still important.
- Be cognizant of the time. Ask the member of the General Assembly or staff member how much time they have to meet. If you would like to continue the dialogue, consider this visit a first step in developing a relationship with your member’s office. You can always follow-up via e-mail, telephone, or by scheduling another visit.
Attend town hall meetings in your district. Host a fundraiser. Engage other audiologists in your congressional district and meet with the Senator or Representative together. Schedule a site visit, inviting the member of the General Assembly to your practice setting to get a firsthand glimpse of what you do.
Follow up your visit with a handwritten thank you note.