Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.: Be a Lobbyist for a Day

Lobbying in Washington, D.C., isn’t just for the professionals. Anyone can pick up the phone and ask to meet a member of Congress or administration official.

Naturally, if these officials accepted every request, they would have very little time to do their real work (like fundraising, a cynic may suspect!). But with a little persistence and a compelling reason, you may be able to squeeze through the door and explain your message to someone on that person’s staff.

Since many congressional offices are as crowded as a college dorm room, don’t be surprised if your long-awaited meeting ends up taking place in the hallway.

Interest groups often facilitate amateur lobbying by arranging regular door knocks on Capitol Hill. Members volunteer to show up, join a small delegation armed with talking points and briefing materials, and wander from office to office spreading whatever key messages their group wants to share.

Don’t worry if you’re not a lobbying veteran. The truth is, many of the top business executives who go to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of their companies are brand new to lobbying as well.

Do you belong to a local civic organization that has something to say about federal policy? Consider organizing your own door knock and learning your way around Congress. It’s a great excuse for a trip to Washington, especially when the famous cherry blossoms are in bloom.

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