To schedule meetings with lawmakers, look up their contact information. In some cities and states, lawmakers have full-time staff to help schedule meetings, but in others, you may be contacting the lawmaker directly (which could be during dinner or when they are putting their kids to bed). Be patient and respectful and ask for a good time to talk. Make sure to share your own contact info so they can get back to you easily.
In your meetings, make sure to:
Let them know you have done your research
Showing that you have done a little homework on them and their district conveys respect and that you put time and effort into this meeting. So, for example, you say, “I read that you attended State U or Local High School,” or “I saw in your campaign literature that you are really interested in children’s health issues or children’s mental health. I care about that too and here’s how it connects to the issues I am working on in terms of body confidence .”
Ask them how they get their information
You want to find out what sources of media they use to get information about health or about child-related issues in their community. Where do they go, what sources do they trust? Make sure to write it down. They might tell you that there are particular blogs or newspapers, radio shows, or Facebook groups they belong to and trust as sources of information.
Try to meet them with constituents
Go back to your list of grassroots advocates and see if you have any advocates who live and vote in the lawmaker’s district. If so, invite them to join your meeting. If they can’t join you, ask them if they would contact their lawmaker ahead of time and let them know that they are unable to join the meeting but that they, as a constituent, wanted to weigh in to voice support for the bill. Your goal in meeting with lawmakers or their staff is to build a bridge and make a meaningful connection. It’s possible that the person you’re meeting with shares their own personal story of a loved one’s struggle with an eating disorder or poor body image. Listen and empathize. Make sure to let the staff who are leading your campaign know what you learned because that lawmaker might be a good ally in the future and might be willing to share their own experience with their peers or the media.
If your lead sponsors do have staff, get to know them. Staff can be your best and quickest source of information. They can keep you up to speed on the legislative process, help you strategize, and alert you to any threats that weaken your bill. Even if you do have a scheduled meeting with a lawmaker, their schedules change quickly so you may meet with staff. This is still a great opportunity, as staff inform views on legislation!