Meeting your elected official in person is an effective way to talk to them about what matters to you.
In North Dakota, it is very likely that we have a personal connection to any member of elected office around the state. However, it's still OK to feel nervous about setting up a meeting with your elected officials or attending an in-person event.
Setting up a 1-1 meeting with your elected official:
- Schedule your meeting: Email, write, or call your elected offical to request a meeting. When you do this, be sure to tell them what you want to talk about. If you’re their constituent, tell them that. If you’re bringing another constituent or someone else to the meeting, let them know that too.
- Be flexible, but firm: Give your elected official about a weeks time to respond to your request for a meeting, depending on the time of year they can be busy, but it is still their job to reply to you.
- Be prepared: Before you get to the scheduled meeting, outline your conversation to the best of your ability. Come with a few main points you want to hit and some "bonus" ones to get to if you have and if the conversation is going well.
- Do your research: Look up the voting history of your elected official if you can, and get to know their values. This can really help frame your conversation and your ask to them. Take time to find out if you have anything in common whether its related to your ask or not. Building a personal relationship or connection can be key to a successful meeting.
- Determine your top goals, and even a backup plan: You must go into this meeting with an idea of what you aim to get out of it. Whether it's for them to sign onto a bill or vote yes on setting up new park benches. No matter the goal, make sure you have at least one, and back up plan if the conversations starts going sideways.
- Map out the meeting: If more than one person is attending, make sure you know who is speaking about what, who takes notes, and what everyone’s roles are.
- Follow up: This might be one of the most important pieces. If you don't get a solid win, ater the meeting, send a thank you note and follow up email to reinforce your points and press for a an answer or solution. Remind your elected official that you're paying attention, and really want their input on your issue or topic of conversation.
In-person or virtual meeting guidelines:
- Be at least 5-10 minutes early, especially if you're hosting the online meeting or in-person meting
- Be tactful
- Be honest
- Come with the facts, but back them up with personal testimony
- Leave something behind, like literature, a note, or a photo, to remind your legislator(s) why you met with them
- After the meeting, send a thank you note and proper follow up