Finding Your Members of Congress
Here are some websites where you can find contact information for your
members of Congress by entering your zipcode.
Arranging a Meeting with a Congressional District Office
- Send a letter (by fax) requesting a meeting to the congressional office.
Make sure to state what organization you are from and that you want to
discuss the Vision for Space Exploration.
(See sample letter)
- Follow-up with a phone call to verify that they received it. Be ready
to answer detailed questions about your organization and what will be
discussed at the meeting.
- If they do not respond within a few days, call them back to check
the status of your meeting request. After this, call back weekly until
a meeting date and time have been arranged. Be patient. It can
sometimes take a few weeks to get a meeting date confirmed.
- Although the goal is to speak to the Congresspeople in person,
don't be disappointed if you are only able to speak to a staff person.
Starting a dialog with a staff person is often just as productive as
meeting with the actual Congressperson. They often have more time to
commit to an issue.
- Confirmation Call: Call the congressional office a day or two in
advance of the meeting to confirm the appointment.
- Do your homework: Make sure you know your subject and bring
appropriate handouts, displays, or PowerPoint presentations. Also,
find out how the Vision may be beneficial to that Congressional
district (companies, universities, etc.).
- Try to have between 2-5 people in attendance at these meetings.
This will not only show the Congresspeople that this isn't a one-person
effort, but will provide a much larger pool of knowledge to draw from.
However: You must designate a lead person. Otherwise, you risk
talking over each other or worse, talking over the staffers and/or
At the Meeting
- Dress Appropriately: Business attire (suit and tie, etc) should be
worn to these meetings. First impressions really do matter.
- Be Prompt: Try to reach the congressional office 10-15 minutes
early (enter their office about 5 minutes prior to the scheduled meeting).
These are busy people and don't have time to wait around for you. If
you are unavoidably late, call the congressional office to tell them
why you are late (Example: I got stuck in a traffic jam). Arriving
early (outside) will also give you time to make sure you all know
your roles and the overall game plan.
- Be courteous: Try not to cut off the person you are meeting with
and don't be patronizing if they don't agree with you.
- Be honest: If you don't know the answer to a question, do not make
one up. Tell them that you do not know the answer, but can follow-up
with them once you have gotten an answer.
- Be Cognizant of how much time you have left: If you are only
allotted 15 minutes, don't try to get 30 minutes worth of information
in that 15 minutes. They don't want to hear auctioneers.
- Ask how you can be helpful to the legislator.
- Thank them for their time and interest. Leave your contact
After the Visit
- Send a thank you letter, briefly reiterating the topics discussed
during the meeting. No letter should exceed one page unless there is
there is a good reason to do.
- Follow-up: If you agreed to follow-up regarding a question or
if you agreed to provide some additional information, do so promptly.
Do not agree to anything that you cannot follow up on.
- Fill out a debriefing form while the meeting is fresh in your mind.
If you have any questions, please e-mail Chris Carberry,
cacarberry AT yahoo.com. We will reply promptly.