Building a Relationship with your Legislator, Step 2
*This posted was updated in January 2019.
As a social worker and a constituent, it is important to establish a relationship with your legislators as they make decisions on your behalf- whether it’s to continue funding a program that serves your clients or funds your current position or a policy decision that impacts how your clients are served. NASW-NC is here to help you develop a relationship with your legislator. We are introducing a new series to be used to help you establish that relationship and a tool we hope you will use as you plan to join us in Raleigh for Social Work Advocacy Day.
Step 2: Call your legislator. You first sent an email to your legislator. Maybe you heard back from them within a few days and maybe not depending on how busy their schedules are. Regardless, pick up the phone and call them! Do this to discuss the bill OR to set up an time to meet with your legislator when you come to town for Advocacy Day.
How to Call Your State Legislator without Getting Tongue Tied, Brushed Off, Or Hung Up On
Contacting your local Representative and Senator can be intimidating or downright scary if you are not prepared! These are a few tips to help you make contact with your legislators, make your views known as a constituent, and hopefully build a positive relationship with him or her.
- Get the office telephone numbers from the NC General Assembly website at https://www.ncleg.gov/. This site contains all the contact information for each representative and state senator in their Raleigh office and their home district office. Find your legislator in the drop down box labeled “District Representation” in the top right hand corner.
- Do your homework: find out the correct pronunciation of his or her name! Nothing is more embarrassing than discovering you’ve mangled the name of the person you’re trying to establish rapport with.
- Find out which committees your representatives serve on, which bills they have sponsored or co-sponsored, and their voting histories on issues important to you. This will give you an idea on their positions regarding issues you want to discuss. You can find out this information at https://www.ncleg.gov/ and find your legislator in the drop down box labeled “District Representation” in the top right hand corner.
- If possible, find out the name of the administrative assistant or secretary and try to develop a pleasant relationship; they are the gatekeepers to their bosses’ access!
- Write out the gist of your ideas before you call so that you will be organized, succinct, and on point. Your legislator’s time is limited and valuable so get to the point quickly!
- Do a few practice runs with a friend who can critique your delivery or record yourself and play it back.
Now you’re ready to call! Here is an example of a phone conversation:
Introduce yourself to the person answering: “Hello, I’m [your name] from Representative [Legislator’s last name] district. I would like to speak with him/her about (insert issue like House Bill XX) which proposes (tell them what it does). Is she available now to take my call?”
If the response is Yes, once your representative is on the line, repeat your introduction and give a brief reason why he/she should vote for (or against) the bill. As a social worker, you can speak to how this bill will impact your clients or the community directly or indirectly. Remember, social workers are advocates!
If the response is No, ask the legislative assistant when the legislator will be available to receive constituent calls, and say that you will call back during that time frame. Make sure to thank him or her for her time.
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