Meeting in Washington, DC

While we know that traveling to D.C. to meet with your members of Congress is something that not all of our members have the time and/or resources to do, it is a very powerful experience. If you are going to make the trip, please let our staff know so we can help you prepare—and welcome you to our office, which is right on Capitol Hill! If your meeting will be in-district, view our resources for in-district lobby visits here.

Use our Lobby Visit Planning Worksheet to prepare for your meeting and bring it with you to take notes.      Download as PDF

Request an appointment

  • Contact the scheduler in your Congressperson’s office for an appointment with your member of Congress or the aide (called the “LA”) who handles the issue you want to discuss.
  • Tell the scheduler the dates you are in D.C., the issue you will discuss, and who will be present during the visit. They may need a written request as well. Follow up with a call to confirm a date. Be polite, but persistent—this process often takes some back and forth!
  • Confirm the visit by phone a day or two before the appointment.

Prepare for the visit

NETWORK’s staff is happy to assist you with:

  • Researching your member of Congress, so that you have a sense of where she or he may be on an issue or bill.
  • Reviewing the legislation and providing talking points.
  • Determining what the legislative “ask” will be (ie., co-sponsoring a bill or voting “yes”).
  • Preparing a one-page summary of NETWORK’s position to leave behind with your member of Congress.
  • Attending the meeting with you, or helping facilitate the scheduling of a D.C. visit.
  • You can also view NETWORK’s Voting Record Archives in Connection magazine to see how your elected officials have voted in the past.

Attend the visit

  • Dress professionally and arrive on time. The halls of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives can be confusing! Be sure to give yourself lots of time between meetings.
  • Check how much time you have with the staff person.
  • Have each person introduce her/himself by sharing their name and where they are from. Have everyone name the groups/organizations they represent and tell how many people are involved in each.
  • Start off by saying something positive about the member, even if it’s thanking them for a bill that is completely unrelated to the issue you are talking about today or simply thanking them for their work—it’s a tough job!
  • Explain why you are here.
  • Have each person briefly explain why they support or oppose the bill, using a personal story to illustrate their points.
  • Make the “ask.” Give the person you are meeting with some time to respond, but try not to let them get off track!
  • Record key points of the conversation and take note of questions that you can’t answer. Offer to find information and follow up with the staff.
  • Thank the people you are meeting with for their time.
  • Give the member of Congress and/or the staff the leave behind. Be sure to get a business card from the staff.
  • If you met with a staff person, find out the next time the member of Congress will be in the district and try to get a commitment to set up a time to meet.
  • Don’t forget- try to get a group photo with your elected official so NETWORK can share it on social media!

Follow up after your visit

  • Write a thank you note to your member of Congress or the staff with a summary of the visit.
  • Email answers to any questions you said you’d research.
  • Pay attention to see if your elected official followed through on your “ask” (ie., vote on a bill or co-sponsor it).
  • Continue the dialogue with your member of Congress and her/his staff.

Report back

When you meet with a member of Congress or their staff about one of NETWORK’s Mend the Gap policies, please
let us know how it went and what you learned!