IREM In-District Meetings

In-District Program

Meeting with your Members of Congress is one of the most effective ways you can influence the legislative process. Legislators are more likely to support positions that their constituents feel strongly about, and there is no better way to communicate your issue than by having a face-to-face meeting.

Although the most common way to meet with a legislator is to conduct a meeting at their district office, if you are unable to conduct a meeting, there are several other ways you can connect with your representatives!

Alternative approaches to meet with your representatives include:

  • Inviting the legislator to your Chapter event;
  • Inviting the legislator to take a tour of one of your properties; and
  • Attending one of the legislators town halls or other scheduled events;
    • To find out when a legislator is conducting a town hall or other event, you can either call their office or they may have a list of monthly events on their website

The information below will help you schedule and conduct a successful meeting with your Members of Congress.

You can also listen to our recorded webinar How to Advocate to Federal Legislators to hear an overview of the information.

How to Meet with Your Member of Congress

Who am I meeting with?
You will be meeting with federal legislators. The IREM Congressional In-District Program is focused on engaging with your federal legislators in their district offices. Your federal legislators work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and are either in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. We refer to both groups as “Members of Congress.”

Check the Calendar
Before contacting the legislator’s office, be sure to check the session calendars to make sure your legislator will be in the district and able to meet with you during your appointment.

 

Contact the Legislator’s Office
Introduce yourself as a constituent, and let them know you would like to meet with the legislator and ask for the scheduler’s email address.

Send the scheduler a formal meeting request. You can use our sample letter or draft your own letter. If a meeting with a staffer is offered, we recommend accepting it. Staffers are the “eyes and ears” of their bosses and establishing rapport with them is extremely impactful.

Let the scheduler know you would like to introduce the legislator to IREM, our industry, and also talk about ADA lawsuit reform and the National Flood Insurance Program. Providing more information in advance will help ensure you meet with the most appropriate staff and they will be able to better prepare, so be sure to include the leave behind materials in your request.

Follow up
Members of Congress get thousands of requests each year, so call the office a week after submitting the request to confirm it was received. Once you have confirmed the meeting details, provide the scheduler a full list of attendees.

Let IREM Know About Your Meeting
Once your meeting is confirmed, please submit the details using this online form. You can always edit the information if anything changes.

Prepare

Know the Issues
Please read the IREM issue brief to learn more about ADA lawsuit reform and the National Flood Insurance Program.

Fact Sheets/Leave Behind
Provide the IREM facts sheets on ADA lawsuit reform and the National Flood Insurance Program to each legislator you meet with. If possible, email them to the scheduler in advance. This will help ensure you meet with the most appropriate staff, and that they are prepared.

Also, phrase the argument in your own words. Don’t be surprised if it appears you are more knowledgeable than the individual you are lobbying. No legislator can be expected to know everything! However, it is okay for you to not know all the answers. Answer questions to the best of your ability, and if you don’t know an answer, admit it. Communicate that you will look into the issue and report back. This will also provide you the opportunity for follow-up and to provide any additional information.

Know the opposition
It is important to anticipate some opposition on any issue. Be sure to do your homework and read the IREM issues brief, and be prepared to discuss any opposing views.

Learn about your Members of Congress
Do your research. What committees are they on? Have they already taken a position on your issue? Have they spoken at an IREM or NAR event? Also, get to know about the legislator as a person. Where were they born? Maybe you went to the same school, share hobby, or are fans of the same team! Be careful to use neutral, bipartisan, and factual resources (beware of “fake news!”).

Meeting Resources

(Although this section is more tailored for meetings at the legislator’s district office, the material is still pertinent for Chapters who invite legislators to their Chapter events, property tours, etc.)

Practice before the Meeting
Set up a meeting or conference call with IREM Members who will be attending the in-district meeting. You should practice for the meeting and know who will talk about what. This meeting can be brief, but it’s always wise to touch base with other attendees before arriving at the legislator’s district office.

The meeting will generally follow this format:

  1. Introduce yourselves and provide your business card
  2. Inform the legislator/staff about IREM
  3. Discuss the issues and ask for their support
  4. Give them a “leave behind”
  5. Thank them for their time and offer IREM as a resource in the future
  6. You’re done!

Day of the Meeting
Arrive early for the meeting and be ready when the legislator or their staffer is available to meet. Dress nicely. Business attire is appropriate. Don’t let your appearance detract from your message or impair your credibility.

Do not be upset if the legislator cancels at the last minute – congressional staffers are great resources and understand many issues. They also brief their bosses on the issue and can relay important information that you shared.

Remember to inform them briefly about IREM and your involvement (I have been a member for X amount of years, I manage/own X number of properties, etc.)

Discuss the issues:

  • Explain the issue (the legislator and/or staff may be unfamiliar) briefly,
  • Explain that you are proponent/opponent of the issue (include bill numbers),
  • Give a personal example of how the issue/bill has or would impact you and your business – VERY IMPORTANT!
  • Respectfully ask for their support

Ask if they would like to take a tour of your property/business

At the meeting’s conclusion, thank your Member of Congress and promise to follow up.

Ask for a photo with the Member of Congress and/or staff!

Dos and Don’ts
DO…

  • Address your Senator or Representative properly: “Hello, Representative Smith” or “Thank you, Senator Miller”
  • Introduce yourself to everyone you meet
  • Hand everyone you meet a business card.
  • Know important details about the bills you’re discussing such as its status and bill number.
  • Use our issues brief for information on each issue.
  • Use your own words and experiences (personal experiences are key!)
  • Be concise and courteous – especially if they do not agree with you!
  • Do meet with staff. They know a lot about the issues and keep the legislators updated.
  • Establish yourself as an expert on the subject.
  • Give legislators the leave behind. This helps them remember what was discussed.
  • Familiarize yourself with staff, they are often the gatekeepers to the legislator.
  • Always keep off-the-record comments confidential.
  • Keep the door open for further discussion despite differences of opinion.

DON’T…

  • Don’t remind them that you pay taxes or “pay their salary.”
  • Don’t be arrogant, condescending, or threatening toward legislators or their staff.
  • Don’t argue, be aggressive, or force an answer.
  • Don’t take notes while talking to a legislator, wait until you leave the office.
  • Don’t send copies or form letters unless you have taken the time to include a personal note.

Feedback

After the meeting
Send a thank you email the following day (send to any staffers you met with and they’ll relay the message to the legislator). Use this opportunity to reiterate your main points, answer any unanswered questions, and most importantly thank them for their time. Also attach the leave behind so they can put it in their online files.

 
 
 

In District

 
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