National Lobby Day tips from a pro

Having worked for ASDA for almost six years, I’ve been involved in planning and have attended five National Dental Student Lobby Days. However, it wasn’t until last year that I went to some Hill visits with students from Washington, Virginia and Minnesota. I knew what to expect based on what we’ve been telling attendees for years: offices are busy, small and can be cramped. You will probably meet with staffers and they may be your age (or younger). You may have to meet in the hall if the office is too crowded but don’t be offended. At the same time I had no idea what to expect as I’d never been in the Senate and House office buildings.

My first few appointments went well. I was really impressed by how much research the students had done on the specific issues we were lobbying. The students were well prepared when the staffer asked questions.

During another meeting we were surprised when the member of Congress came back early from another meeting and sat down with me and the dental students and staff to talk about the issues. Apparently I was nervous because when we went around and introduced ourselves I could barely get the words out that I worked for ASDA in Chicago.

A few tips I want to share with students who may be attending for the first time:

  • Be prepared. ASDA will provide information on the issues a couple weeks before the meeting, but you should do some research as to how the issues impact your district/state specifically.
  • Rehearse what you’re going to say. It may seem easy to remember, but if you get nervous or have to think on your feet, you need to know the issues inside and out.
  • Have fun. I know very few people who’ve had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress. It truly is a great experience and you may only get it once in a lifetime so be sure to enjoy it.
  • Register for the meeting and book your hotel room by Tuesday, March 13.

If you’ve attended Lobby Day in the past, do you have any other tips? If you haven’t, what are you looking forward to or most nervous about?

Meghan Keelean, CMP,  meeting planner

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