Whatever your opinion of Bob Nardelli, Alan Mulally, and Rick Wagoner, you have to admit that it must be nice to be able to ask lawmakers for whatever your business needs. Most microbusiness owners don't realize that they can do precisely that. So, here are five tips for turning yourself into a microbusiness policy mover and shaker:
- Develop relationships with legislative office staff. Your first point of entry into your congressional representative's office will be through his or her staff. The staff is the group you will work with and they are valuable contacts. Don't turn your nose up at them and demand to see the boss.
- Relationships should be mutual. Bear in mind that your contact with your congressperson's legislative office should be a two-way street. You know what you want. Consider yourself a resource for them, too.
- Be specific. You don't want to offer your opinions on life, the universe, and everything. Being broadly general will get you nowhere. Come into meetings armed with specific bill numbers, legislative proposals, or federal regulations to discuss.
- Don't just complain; offer solutions. If you want the congressperson to support or oppose something, say so and say why, but also be prepared to offer a better solution.
- Tell stories. The best way to get your point across is to describe exactly how a given proposal will effect your business in human terms. Facts and figures can be impressive, but a good story makes a stronger sale.
Dawn Rivers Baker is the award-winning journalist behind The MicroEnterprise Journal, the online business news weekly that covers politics and policy, the economy, and research for and about microbusinesses. Baker also blogs at The Journal Blog.