A face-to-face meeting with your member of Congress or staff member is the most effective way to share your message and create a positive working relationship with your elected official. Your representative and senators want to hear from you — their constituent — about important issues affecting the district, the state, and the country.
A trip to Washington, DC may not always be possible for their constituents, so members of Congress periodically return to their home districts/states to stay connected to their communities. These district work periods present a unique opportunity for you to engage your representative and senators because they will be in your area. Please see below for tips on scheduling and conducting an effective meeting in your community.
If you are interested in arranging a meeting with your representative or senators, do not hesitate to contact the Endocrine Society Government & Public Affairs staff at email@example.com. We will walk you through all the steps and are happy to assist you.
1. Call your representative or senator’s local office and ask to schedule a meeting.
Visit the official website of the representative or senators that you would like to meet. There you will find their local offices and the one closest to you. You can call or show up in person to schedule a meeting, or Endocrine Society staff can schedule an appointment for you. It is important to call as far in advance as possible, as members of Congress can have very busy schedules. See the House and Senate calendars for more information on this year's planned district/state work periods.
We recommend that you ask to meet with the member specifically. Be flexible! If he or she is not available at the time that you request, ask when his or her next available appointment is. It is also perfectly acceptable to meet with a staff member instead.
2. Prepare for the meeting.
Learn about your legislator’s background, such as their education, political party, and the congressional committees on which they serve. This kind of information can help you understand their view of the world.
Practice your “endocrinology elevator speech”. It is important for your legislator to know what you do, who you treat or what kind of research you conduct, and why it is important. See our sample guide to the "elevator speech" on endocrinology.
Know your issue well enough to explain how it is affecting you and/or your patients. Limiting your agenda to one or two issues will help keep the meeting focused.
There are many issues that affect endocrine researchers, clinicians and their patients, but the Endocrine Society recommends focusing on the issue of federal support for the National Institutes of Health at this time because Congress is currently debating it and must resolve by September 30, 2017.
See our Town Hall Toolkit for sample questions and talking points. Remember, personal stories are incredibly effective to underscore your point about an issue!
3. Meet with your member of Congress or their staff.
Start the meeting by introducing yourself. This is an important step, and an educational opportunity, that is usually rushed. Take a minute to explain who you are and what you do, and why your work is important.
Concentrate on the issue that you came prepared to discuss. Why is this issue a problem for you? Who else is affected? Use personal stories to highlight your points, if you can. Be thorough but also concise – you may need to allow time for your lawmaker to share his/her thoughts on the issue. Your legislator may ask a question where you do not have an answer. It is completely okay to say “I do not know, but I will follow up with you about that”. You can share the question with Endocrine Society staff and we will assist you.
Politely ask your lawmaker to do something specific. Your ask should be clear and concise – for example, “I hope you will co-sponsor the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (H.R. 1953/S. 830),” or “Please increase funding for NIH in 2018 by $2 billion.”
At the end of the meeting, offer to be a resource for the legislator. You never know when you may be called on!
If time allows and the opportunity presents itself, request a photo with the legislator. Be sure to share your experience with the Endocrine Society – we will highlight it in our publications, and your visit may inspire others to do the same.
4. Say thank you and keep the momentum going. Endocrine Society staff are happy to assist with all follow-up.
After the meeting is over, reach out to your legislator’s office (by phone, email, or post) to say thank you for taking the time to meet. This is an important gesture that will go a long way. You can use this opportunity to re-emphasize your points and your ask, and provide additional information that was missing from your meeting.
If you are comfortable with Facebook or Twitter, send your legislator a quick Tweet or post to say thanks. They will appreciate the public display of gratitude.
If you had good rapport with your legislator, offer to host a site visit at your clinic or lab to better educate them about the field of endocrinology.