I am going to NHF’s Washington Days and I have an opportunity to speak with my Congress person about hemophilia issues. I am worried I don’t know enough and that my Congress person will not take me seriously. How do I prepare for this meeting?
First, relax and remember Members of Congress (and their staff) work for you, the constituent. It is important to be prepared for a visit, though. In general, successful visits have these (5) things in common:
- Make it local – you are the constituent.
- Make it personal – tell your story or the story of others with a bleeding disorder. You are the expert on your story.
- Remember to ask for support. Do not assume they will help.
- Be flexible. It is possible you will meet with a staff person and not the Member directly. Be respectful with each person you meet. The meeting could take place in an office, in a busy hallway or in the cafeteria. The meeting could also be delayed, so be patient.
- Rehearse your talking points. Meetings may only last 10 minutes, so be prepared to make your points quickly if necessary.
- Prepare a leave behind packet with your contact information.
When it is time for your visit, start by introducing yourself and share the district in which you live. From there, try to hit these points:
- Give a brief background on your bleeding disorder and how it has affected you and your family.
- Share information about the issue you are visiting about and provide a concrete example of how it affects you.
- Ask for their support on your issue.
- Leave behind a packet of information.
- Include your contact information with the materials. If you do not have a business card, make sure your name, street address including zip code, phone number, and email are clearly included in your materials.
- Thank them for their time and invite them to contact you with any questions.
- Let them know you will follow-up! Then follow-up; don’t let them forget your visit, what you discussed, and any support they said they would provide.
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HFA frequently receives questions from the bleeding disorders community related to advocacy issues. The questions often impact the entire community. In an effort to reach the largest audience possible with our responses to these widely applicable questions, HFA developed “Dear Addy.” Questions submitted to this column are edited in order to protect privacy and should be considered educational only, not individual guidance.