Assessing the Success of Your Washington, D.C., Fly-ins, Part I

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.

Capitol Hill visits by your grassroots advocates will no doubt do some good in advancing your cause. If, however, you fail to assess your team’s performance, they might as well have stayed home in their easy chairs. You need a plan for gathering critical information garnered during Hill meetings.

While your advocates are still on the Hill, each individual should take a moment to jot down notes immediately after each visit. This is vitally important. Most of us are not memory champs. Dedicating even 30 seconds to writing some rough notes will help to give everybody’s memory that jog it needs later.

Upon completion of a meeting, instruct your grassroots activists to exit the member’s office, round a corner so that they are out of eyesight and earshot (though still be cautious of your surroundings; you never know who that person walking down the hall works for), then stop and memorialize the conversation. Take particular heed of the member’s stance on your issue and what he said when you made your ask. Did he offer unwavering support? Slam the door? Hem and haw?

What nonverbal signals did he send? Was he attentive and nodding as you made your pitch? Or was he shuffling paperwork and avoiding eye contact? Note these indicators, too, in your written report.

If you have time between appointments, as is often the case, find an out-of-the-way location and share thoughts with one another. Task someone with taking notes of these conversations, too.

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