In-District Meeting Toolkit: Relationship-building Tips

Follow Up with Staffers and NBTS

While you’re at the local office of your Representative/Senator, ask for the business card of the staff person with whom you met, or if you dropped off information, who handles constituent requests related to health care. Follow up with an email to that staff person, thanking them for their time or letting them know you dropped off the information. If you build a relationship now, you may have an easier time getting a meeting next time!

Be sure to also follow up with us at the National Brain Tumor Society! It’s important for us to know that a meeting occurred and how it went. Did you receive positive feedback on your requests for support? Send us an email at advocacy@braintumor.org to provide your meeting feedback so when we’re meeting with the Representative’s/Senator’s office on Capitol Hill, we can let them know they have constituents who are active advocates who are working to improve the lives of everyone affected by a brain tumor.

Engage on Social Media

Make sure to share your experiences with other advocates, ask questions, and find more resources by utilizing social media including Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtags #braintumor #btsm #nbtsadvocacy and be sure to follow @NBTStweets on Twitter, @National Brain Tumor Society on Facebook, and @natlbraintumorsociety on Instagram.

Finally, you can check if any of your Senators or Representatives are on Twitter or Facebook (most are!) and send them thank you messages for meeting with you, or links to more information.

Attend a Town Hall Meeting

Many members of Congress hold Town Hall Meetings in August and other times throughout the year as a chance to hear from many of their constituents at one time. To find out if there is a meeting scheduled in your area, call your Representative or Senator’s office and ask if he or she will be hosting any Town Hall meetings.

They will also often list their Town Hall meetings on their websites. Visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to find your legislators’ websites.

  • Once on their website, you can sign up to be on their mailing list and get information on all upcoming events.
  • Depending on the format of the meeting, you can either ask a question during the meeting, or speak to your elected official or a member of his or her staff prior to, or at the conclusion of the meeting.
  • Here are some tips to help you prepare for successfully participating in a Town Hall Meeting:
  • Practice sharing your brief personal story.

At the Town Hall Meeting:

  • Raise your hand!
  • Most Town Hall meetings allow constituents to raise their hands to ask questions. If it’s very crowded, not everyone will be called on, but it’s worth trying!
  • If you get called on, thank the legislator for the chance to speak.
  • Share your name, your city/town, and briefly share your connection to brain tumors.
  • Share a statistic about brain tumors in your state.
  • Ask a question. Here are a few ideas:
    • Brain tumor patients have few treatment options, and survival rates for certain brain tumors are low compared to other cancers. Can we count on your support for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute in the upcoming fiscal year budget so new treatments might be discovered?
  • Remember to be respectful. You want to leave a good impression on the legislator and his/her staff so that future interactions are positive. It’s also a chance to find support from other audience members, so be receptive to others who approach you after the meeting.

After the Town Hall Meeting:

  • If you don’t get called on, find a staff person to speak with. Even if you do get called on, you should still find a staff person to give your handouts to and get their business card.
  • It is important to build positive relationships with the legislator’s staff members. They will be the ones answering the telephone or responding to your email in the coming months and years, and also have the ear of the legislator when it comes to policy matters.

Also ask if they would be the best person on staff for you to follow up with. If not, ask if they can put you in touch with the most appropriate staff member.

Follow up

  • Make sure to follow up after a Town Hall Meeting with a phone call or email to the congressman’s office, preferably to the staff member you met.
  • This is another chance to share your story and ask for their support of the policy issues you are advocating for. It also will help solidify the relationship and allow you to continue the dialogue in the coming months and years.

Note about Town Hall meetings: Town Hall meetings have become more popular for constituent groups in recent years, and often can become contentious if the groups do not agree with the legislator. As a volunteer of the National Brain Tumor Society, do not be partisan. Please do not make comments that are politically leaning or charged. National Brain Tumor Society works with elected officials in a nonpartisan manner.

Questions? Please contact us at advocacy@braintumor.org.