How to Lobby

Lobbying Your Legislator

New York State legislators generally have offices both in Albany, the state capitol and in their local communities. Some officials who represent large districts may have more than one district office, which they use as a means of staying in touch with the concerns of their constituents. Most officials emphasize constituent contact because it helps direct their voting behavior. They want to know who supports an issue, how many support the issue, why they support it, and how it will impact the district.

During the Legislative Session (January – late June), state officials will spend most of their time at the capitol. So, you will likely visit with a senior staff person in the local office. This is not a sign you're "getting blown off." A majority of the information legislators rely on comes from the staff, so if a staff person sees things your way, you have been successful.

Schedule an Appointment

  1. Call your legislator's district office (using the contact information provided) and ask to speak to the scheduler or appointment secretary. Be specific about your reason for wanting the appointment so the person with whom you meet is familiar with your issue. If you are asked your position on the issue, tell them. It is better they know ahead of time what to expect.

Keep your request for time brief. Fifteen minutes is a long time to discuss your views. Your respect for their time will be appreciated and remembered the next time you want access.


The Lobby Visit

  1. Dress appropriately, as if you are going to a business appointment.
  2. Bring a friend - group efforts make this less intimidating, and it's good to have backup and support. Bring no more than five people, and discuss talking points for each person to address before the meeting begins. Choose one person to lead the meeting.
  3. Start positively - thank him/her for meeting with you.
  4. Introduce yourself/selves; identify your hometowns.
  5. Identify the purpose of your visit. What bill/issue are you here to speak about, and what do you want the legislator to do?
  6. Outline the specific issues that you want to address.
  7. Listen to the elected official - what you learn about their thinking is important. Ask questions that require specific answers.
  8. Provide the legislator with copies of the bill fact sheets included in this packet.
  9. Make a specific request of support, i.e. "Please vote for S.3818, the 20/50 Bill."
  10. End on a positive note; review any agreements or request for information.

Thank him/her for the meeting.


After the Meeting

  1. Always follow-up. Send a thank-you letter restating any agreements or requests.

Let us know what you think. Your insight into these legislators and their motivations and beliefs can be very valuable to us. Fill out our District Lobbying Campaign (DLC) Response Form to help us track district visits and provide you with feedback.