In the world of politics there are activists and lobbyists. Activists perform the function of advocating either for or against some cause, idea, or other such issues affecting people. Lobbyists, on the other hand, work to influence the decisions of Congress, politicians, and public officials to get important issues introduced as bills and attempt to get them passed as laws. One of the key differences between the two is that lobbyists must adhere to strict rules and regulations established by various government agencies.
If you enjoy being an activist, at some point you might decide you want to try your hand at lobbying and becoming a lobbyist. There are local municipal lobbyists, state lobbyists, and Washington, DC lobbyists. How effective you are in your new role depends upon several factors, not to mention your ability to understand the differences between lobbying styles and local, state, and federal laws.
Tip # 1: Obey All Laws
Take the time to learn the laws, rules, and regulations lobbying firms and lobbyists must follow. It does not matter whether you are lobbying for money to build a new local city park or supporting a new gun control bill before Congress. Always work within the laws and remember to keep accurate records and report any necessary information to appropriate agencies.
Tip # 2: Understand and Learn Government Processes
At each level of government there are specific cycles you need to know. These cycles dictate when new bills can be introduced and the timeframe on how long before they must be voted on. In addition, keep in mind, in many cases it takes several cycles before a good bill is passed and enacted into law.
Tip # 3: Avoid Feeling Discouraged
Progress does not happen overnight, and legislative process can be time consuming. Unless you have a direct line to the White House and key people to help speed up the process, setbacks are bound to happen, especially when you are first starting out. Just remember, the work you are doing is vital to bring about change and progress.
Tip # 4: Keep Your Eye on the Prize
It is easy to get distracted and lose focus of the desired end-game. Your opponents will have their own bills and ideas that directly counter yours. Constantly seek out support from similar minded nonprofits, activists, and other groups, educate legislators about the important of your ideas and/or bills, and build sound strategies.
For more information on how to become a lobbyist, feel free to explore current openings at Lobbyit, or contact us at 202.587.2736. If you are a small or medium sized organization, let us provide the representation you need in Washington by taking advantage of our affordable lobbying packages to have your voice heard.