October 10, 2016
10 THINGS I know about...

Making an impact with elected officials

Pat Lawlor is the public affairs manager at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at plawler@northcentralmass.com

10) Communicate. Regular communication with elected officials – not just when you need their help – will go a long way in relationship building. Inviting them to events and sharing news will keep them engaged.

9) Appreciate the staff. Elected officials are pulled in every direction, which makes their staff essential. Never underestimate the influence staffers can have on their boss's decisions.

8) Leverage social media. Elected officials love using Facebook to show constituents the work they are doing. Like, share, re-tweet and stay engaged with your legislator's social media account.

7) Lobbying is not the same as selling. Lawmakers are smart people, and they know when they are being duped – don't go with the hard sell. Effective lobbying is all about education.

6) Don't take things personal. Sometimes things won't go your way. Whether it is a program that doesn't get funded or a bill is ordered to further study – your elected official is one of many. Work on a new strategy, and don't let a loss ruin your relationship with a lawmaker.

5) Numbers and data matter. When making a case, bring plenty of numbers and data that help your cause. Whether you are speaking with a mayor, senator or city councilor – they all want to make informed decisions. Compelling data and information can help influence decisions.

4) Don't assume you are on a first name basis. Running for office commands a certain amount of respect. Referring to elected officials by their title shows a level of respect they will appreciate. Chances are they will say, "Call me Joe" – but don't risk it.

3) There is power in numbers. If there are others who share your goal – team up, write joint letters and attend meetings together – show that you are not in this alone.

2) Consult with the experts. If you are a member of an association, chamber of commerce or other industry group, seek their assistance or look at their resources. Name recognition and experience navigating government can go a long way.

1) Keep your cool. Always remain professional and respectful – losing your cool will only lose your credibility.

Pat Lawlor is the public affairs manager at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at plawler@northcentralmass.com

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