Meeting Your Reps: How To

Setting up and connecting with your Representatives is easier than you think. Below is an easy how-to breakdown. Look easy? That’s because it is.
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1. Schedule your meeting. The sooner the better. Find out who your Representatives are. Choose your targets and call their office to ask for the scheduler or the staffer who handles issues related to LGBT communities, criminal justice reform, women’s health – however you think is best to talk about the issue. You can set up a meeting on the phone or email them. Here’s an easy form letter that you can adapt for your voice and your group:

Subject: Meeting Request, June 1

Dear Mx. ((Staffer)),

I am writing on behalf of a group of advocates to request a meeting to discuss the challenges and issues of those who trade sex on Friday, June 1.

On that day, advocates from across the country are meeting with their Representatives to share this information, especially the recent impact on our communities since the passage of FOSTA/SESTA, and we invite your office to be part of this dialogue.

We are a group of advocates working from the perspectives of harm reduction, LGBTQ communities, and economic justice to address issues which compromise the health and well being of individuals impacted by the sex trade. I will be joined in this meeting by other constituents from your district ((are you guys repping orgs? how do you relate to this issue?))

We welcome the opportunity to sit down for a meeting on June 1. I will be in touch to see if this is possible. In the  meantime, I can be contacted at this email (Yours!) or by phone at ((Yours!))

Sincerely,
Name

2. Get the basics on lobbying. We’ll be doing a webinar in the week leading up to June 1 to cover the basics of lobbying and advocacy meetings. It’ll cover what that meeting looks like, what is helpful for staffers, and some tips on how to prepare. It’ll be up online the night of May 29, so as soon as we have that link you can find it here.

Want to read more ahead of time? Here are some guides from other organizations:

3. Who are you going with? Meet and plan! If you’re going with a group of local folks (3-5 is ideal), get together and talk through your meeting. For a lot of staffers this will be the first meeting on sex workers’ needs and concerns. For most meetings, the general structure (make it your own) is:
  • What is sex work (There’s a handout!)
  • What are the major issues sex workers face (there’s a few handouts!)
  • What was SESTA/FOSTA (your rep probably voted for it), and what has the impact been (there WILL be a handout)
  • What is our major ask? Reach out to us moving forward and know that talking to sex workers means talking to the experts on the sex trade. (Leave your contact info, cards, palm cards if you’re with an org)

4. Practice! Who’s going to say what, who’s going to facilitate, who wants to share their story? Get to know each other and have a few practice meetings sharing the information and give each other feedback. It’ll be so much easier when you know everyone’s style.

5. Have your meeting on June 1! You’ll sit down with a staffer, run through your stuff, and go over the documents you’re leaving behind. Expect about a half hour, answer their questions, and leave on a good note. Leave your contact info, any reports/documents you brought, thank them for their time, and follow up immediately with an email.

Can’t get a meeting on June 1? Relationship building takes time. The day matters less than the relationship building. If lobbying meeting don’t work for you on June 1, meet others and plan! Write letters to support a bill. Make the day work for you.

6. Post about it! If you had a great meeting with a Rep, tell Twitter, tell Switter, and tell us! We’ll be collecting info on how it went, what was helpful, and if you’d like to stay up on these conversations moving forward.

7. Follow up: As soon as you get out, send an email thanking them for their time. If they asked for anything (other contacts, more info, research, an invite to June 2), send that along.