In-District Meetings: Tricks & Tips

For those who have never had an in-district meeting with their members of Congress, trying to set one up can seem scary or intimidating, but with a little a patience and practice in-district meetings can be the most effective way to get your members of Congress to support your cause. Hopefully, by reading my tips and tricks you’ll feel more comfortable having a meeting with your member. After all, they were elected into this office to help you!

The first step is identifying who your members of Congress are and how you can reach their office. Information on Representatives can be found here and Senators here or on the Girl Up Advocacy App. Make sure you’re contacting the district office closest to you!

The second step is to call or email them. If you call, ask to speak to a scheduler then say you’d like to set up a meeting in regard to girls’ access to education. If you email, feel free to use a template in the Girl Up community. Now, it may take a while and a couple of emails for them to respond, but stay patient and persistent. In the unfortunate case that your member of Congress isn't available, then request a meeting with their foreign affairs staffer. Meeting with a staffer is just as important as meeting your Congressional member, so approach it with the same level of effort as you initially would! A tip of mine would be to utilize the Girl Up Advocacy App. Under ‘calendar’ you can check when congress is in recess (aka on break). During recess, your chances of getting a meeting with your member is more likely because they’re back in your district!

When you’ve confirmed your meeting with your member of Congress or a staffer, then get your team and get preppin’! It’s important that everyone who is attending the meeting is informed on what you’re lobbying for! Some ways I prepped where going on the Girl Up Advocacy App and looking at my member’s track record for supporting Girl Up’s bills and practicing the listed talking points. Although most times I don’t normally stick to what is exactly on the script, it’s good to add personal touches to it, especially if you can tie the issues back to your community. For example, where I live sex trafficking is a huge issue that my member has been trying to help combat and one of the benefit of H.R.2408 is that when girls are educated they’re less likely to get trafficked. So, I would say something along the lines of “I know you (my member) have taken steps to end sex trafficking in our city and through this bill the cycle of abuse will stop for girls in other countries as well.” Not only does this point out a benefit to H.R. 2408, but it also shows that you are aware of your member’s work. Another thing you should do is dress professionally. A Girl Up shirt, a blazer, a pair of slacks, and flats will do just fine! When your meeting is over, give the staffer or member a leave behind packet (a folder with more information about the bill and Girl Up as a campaign! You can find these things in the Girl Up Community) and take a photo for the Girl Up Community!

Finally, thank your representative for their time and tell Girl Up how it went. Thank you emails can be sent in the app but I like to send old-fashioned thank you cards in the mail! To me they’re more personal, but whichever is easiest for you is great! To tell Girl Up, open the app and click ‘Tell Us How It Went’ and fill out the form. This is arguably the most important part of the whole meeting. If Girl Up never gets feedback, they won't know you did it and can’t track how effective you are! Also, feel free to post the photo on social media with the #girlswholobby or #withrefugees!

 All in all, this can seem really intimidating and I totally get that. I felt that way in my first meeting too, but I got over it by just keeping
 in mind that at the end of the day members of Congress are just people like us. When you’re passionate, which I know the Girl Up community is, speaking about what you believe in comes naturally. I promise you, when you leave the meeting you’ll be surprised how easy it was to explain the need for whatever you’re advocating on. Just keep a cool head and you can do it! Best of luck, girls!

Written by: Teen Advisor Lauren Woodhouse
Posted by Kirsten Elizabeth Foster on Aug 10, 2017 10:16 AM America/New_York