What are the traits of a good lobbyist? Generally speaking, all lobbyists no matter what the cause, group or political party do the same things to influence legislation. First and foremost, you need friends and not enemies. Anyone you know, or you have a connection to in some way is a potential resource, a potential lead to a member of congress. You must work through these people, identify the ones that you can trust and figure out who might be helpful as lobbying or issue advocacy begins. LinkedIn and other social networking media are great resources to use to help flag people who might be helpful in you personal and professional networks.
Really successful lobbyists, like really successful politicians, also usually have had professional guidance from someone, a mentor if you will. I've been very fortunate to have been in professional positions where my superiors were always willing to help with advice or by example. Every conference call and meeting that my bosses ever had, I was a part of. I met lots of people and got real on-the-job training. My advice, find a mentor. Most of the time, the people who you work with and around are more than happy to help you with advice or in making a connection. You see, that is the way the game works. You do favors for people, help them out here and there and one day, when you need something you ask. It sounds very Sicillian, but it is not. Everybody who lobbies or is in politics keeps score, make no mistake. You need a long memory and a positive attitude.
Now that you know the basics, here are my top 5 skills to have or learn:
1. Be a quick study of the issues that you are advocating on. Know what you are talking about.
2. Know the people whom you represent. You need to know both the playbook and the other players to make your lobbying campaign successful.
3. Be ethical. Know the rules and follow them. People must trust you.
4. Be open to meeting people. Lobbying is a term coined from people hanging out in the lobbies of legislatures. Go hang out on the Hill and meet as many people as you can, starting with those who are involved in your issues.5. Finally, nothing compares to live face-to-face conversation. "Friends" are not you list of Facebook contacts. Your friends in lobbying are those who you trust and who trust you. Friends are people you ask favors of and do them and for whom you reciprocate. No one else counts.