Thursday, October 18, 2012

Preparing for your Hill Meetings: Newbie Edition

Among the groups I work with who hold Advocacy Day events on Capitol Hill, I am always happy to see the smiling faces of those advocates who have participated in a hill day before and have eagerly come back for more! More often than not I also notice that a few newcomers have been added to the mix, which is equally as exciting. For those folks who are first timers, there are a few simple things you need to know that will make you seem like the savviest of hill-goers:

Dress to Impress. This may seem overly obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of advocates who show up for their hill meetings in khaki shorts and a Hawaiian t-shirt. To play it safe, think of your congressional meetings as business meetings (and in some ways that’s what it is, right?). A full suit and tie (or pant suit for the ladies) may not be necessary – especially during the dog days of summer – but a dress shirt and formal bottoms (no jeans) will go a long way. Think business casual, not Disney vacation.

Be prepared for security lines. If you’ve never been to the congressional office buildings before, you may not know that there is a security check point at every entrance. The lines to get through security can range anywhere from being the only person in line to standing in a 10-15 minute line if you’re getting there around the time that staffers are coming in for the day. Make sure to give yourself ample time to get through a potential line. If you bring a suitcase too large, it won't fit through their scanners and it becomes a big to-do, so avoid that if you can. Also keep in mind that if you have any meetings taking place in the Capitol Visitors Center, you cannot bring food or drink into that building.

There are underground tunnels. The hill is a deceptively large place. On a map it looks like all the buildings are very close, but it can take a surprising amount of time to walk from the Cannon House Building to the Rayburn House Building. And when you’re going from the House side to the Senate side or vice-versa, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk. One of the perks to keeping your House meetings together is that there are underground tunnels you can walk through to get from one House building to the next (and the same goes for the Senate side). On a sweltering summer day in DC, this is not only a great way to shave some time off of your commute but it also helps you stay put-together.

With these tips behind your belt (you know, the one on your dress pants and NOT on your khaki shorts), you’ll be ready to conquer the Hill with ease.

***For more tips and strategies after the election, sign up for our FREE webinar, "Winning, No Matter Who Wins" on Thursday, November 15. More information here.

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