You survived the legislative session. Now what?

6 Tips to Better Position Yourself in the Year Ahead


By Missy Neff Gould (@NeffGould)

Here in Virginia the legislative session is coming to an end. This is the time when government affairs professionals go back to their normal offices away from the capital, the time when they all rest up, get reacquainted with their families and take long lunches.  Right?  Wrong.

A good government affairs professional won’t let too much time pass before reaching out to decision makers. Here are six tips to better position your company or organization for next year.

1. Say thank you!

The session just ended. Hopefully a legislator (or five or twenty) helped you or your client. Let them know you appreciated their time and interest in your issue.

2. Tell your story.

Your organization is doing big things. Don’t just tell your story to employees, consumers and competitors. Tell your story to decision makers. Email them a press release or news story. Mail an annual report. Growing the size of your workforce? Make sure your legislators know your business.

3. Hit the road.

Make time to visit legislators in their home office. Planning a weekend whitewater rafting trip in WV?  There are no less than 12 legislators between Richmond and the WV border. Surely one is free for lunch on Friday. When the General Assembly is in session legislators don’t have time to learn about your issues. They just might have time on a random Friday in September.






4. Write a letter.

Yes.  A hand-written letter.  Everyone enjoys getting letters. It shows the recipient that you made a special effort. In a world where the average person gets 147 emails a day, a handwritten note is a welcome change.

5. Do your homework.

Going to meet with a legislator or wonder which legislator would be the best to approach about an issue?  Take the time to learn a bit about them.  Most legislators have their own website that they maintain with a bio, photo, and descriptions of policy issues they care about.  A quick Google search can help you with this.  Go a step deeper and learn about their background and campaign donors using the non-profit Virginia Public Access Project.  You can also take a look at the types of bills they have introduced in the past or how they voted on a specific issue.

6.  Don’t just make contact when you need something.

The time has come and you need to make an ask. If you’ve done items 1-4 you are likely on solid ground. If you haven’t spoken to a legislator since sine die, you may want to re-think your approach.

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