Getting to know your elected representatives can be great for your business! By building relationships with policymakers, you can:
- learn about government contract opportunities;
- raise your visibility by attending community meetings and events;
- build credibility by becoming known as the “go-to” person in your industry; and
- develop goodwill by helping to shape the community you live and work in.
All of this can help promote your business and improve your bottom line.1
Here are a few tips on how YOU can start connecting with your elected representatives.
1. Find out their names. The people serving as our elected officials can change from time to time due to elections, death, resignation, or other reasons. To find out who your current representatives are, try visiting a site like commoncause.org (Find Your Representatives – Common Cause). 2 Once you type in your address, the site will display the names and contact information for your representatives on the federal, state, and local levels.
2. Start local. The saying that “All politics is local” is quite true. While some of us may never come face-to-face with the President of the United States, there is a chance we may run into one of our local officials at the grocery store, neighborhood diner, or community event. These are all excellent opportunities to say hello, introduce yourself and ask your representative if there is any initiative with which you can help him or her.
3. Attend a City Council, School Board, or other Public Body meeting. Attending a public body meeting is a great way to listen in and get a feel of what’s important to your elected officials. How do they view things? What are their personalities like? What projects are they working on? The information you glean could help you craft a proposal that solves a problem they’re concerned about—thus making you a valuable contributor. Also, many public bodies now conduct their meetings via videoconference, so you can even tune in from the comfort of your home, car, office …or wherever you happen to be.
Remember Shirley Chisholm’s quote mentioned. Take the initiative. Reach out to your electeds. Get to know them …and let them get to know you, too!
1 Kindly note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice.
2 The mention of Common Cause is for demonstration purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the
author or NAWBO NYC.