Building healthy relationships with policymakers and policy-enforcers is critical in your policy advocacy work. It can be easy to overlook this important step because it is difficult to see the immediate impact of your efforts. However, the relationships you establish and maintain on a daily basis will put you in a better position to directly lobby with policymakers in the long run. This page will highlight the benefits and limitations of relationship building, and provide practical advice on building effective relationships with your policymaker.
- Relationship Building
- Important especially when your policy goals are long-term
- Helps identify “champions” for your campaign
- Not a way to quickly advocate for change
Relationship building strategies:
- Invite policymakers to an event.
- Invite policymakers to a training.
- If appropriate, invite the policymaker to lunch.
- If appropriate, setting up a one-on-one meeting to talk about your organization and your model. This can also be conceived of as education and capacity building
To establish a relationship effectively, it is helpful to try to get to know lawmakers and their staff personally. For example, you may look for common interests and backgrounds. Policymakers are more likely to meet with you and listen to you when they know who you are and have a positive perspective of you.
The opportunity to have a direct conversation with a policymaker enables you to establish a real relationship. You may take this opportunity to share your concerns directly, ask questions about important policy issues, and hear what your policymaker has to say. Understanding why a policymaker holds a particular position opens the door for education and friendly persuasion.