Climbing Those Marble Stairs on Capitol Hill

Welcome back to our ongoing series to help you advance your public policy success when conducting Washington, D.C., fly-ins with your employees and members.

The big day has dawned. Today is the day you venture to Capitol Hill to petition members of Congress. Let’s cover a bit of Capitol Hill protocol to help you center your advocates.

Tell your emissaries to treat their arrival on the Hill as if they were going to the airport to catch a flight. Arrive early and expect delays.

Logistics are important. You don’t want to waste precious time getting lost going from appointment to appointment. You should spend a short amount of time during your training session on the layout of Capitol Hill, the best routes from the House side to the Senate side, and how to use the tunnels connecting the buildings on each side (make sure they realize that the tunnels connecting the House to the Senate side that run underneath the Capitol building have been closed to the public, ostensibly for security reasons, since September 11, 2001).

Depending on the day and time, they may need to wait in line, which may extend outdoors. Thus, it makes sense to check the weather forecast ahead of time just in case an umbrella becomes a necessity. Arriving at meetings dripping wet will not shape a positive first impression. A good idea to avoid the longest lines is to steer your team to lesser-used entrances for the office building where the first visit takes place.

Once inside, adcapitol policevise them to expect security screening by Capitol Police. They should be prepared to empty pockets of keys, mobile devices, eyeglasses, and anything else that might set off the magnetometer.

Take a moment to make sure that everyone looks presentable. Duck into a restroom and check a mirror to ensure a solid first impression. There is no point in showing up with windblown hair or a piece of spinach from your breakfast omelet between your teeth.

While this probably does not need to be said, dress in crisp business attire. These are among the most important business meetings you will ever attend.

And remember that your troops deserve more than a map and a pat on the back. Tell them not to hesitate to ask for aid charting routes between appointments. This will prove a real time saver and could even help avoid missed appointments.

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