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Saturday, February 20, 2010

How Action Strategies builds relationships with legislators & prepares associations for meetings with MPs

From the Canadian Construction Association, Canadian Hydropower Association and even the National Trade Contractors Coalition of Canada, we have followed a number of tried strategies to build our relationships in government and prepare association professionals for meetings with policy makers. If you have minimal knowledge of government affairs or the people in it, you can be left feeling helpless--relying almost blindly on your contractors to guide you through a labyrinth of protocol, rules, precedence, unique customs, and complex interrelationships to achieve their goals. With the stakes for your association high--such as passage or defeat of an important piece of legislation--skillful management of your contract lobbying resources is critically important. Even more so, is understanding the processes and strategies in building a network in government.

In government relations, meaningful influence and relationships depends on trust, and it has to be earned with all those involved in the government’s policies and decisions from both the political and bureaucratic sides of government. We throughly research all of the contacts and influencers along the way to success. As such, we make certain not to avoid even the slightest contact we may not be certain directly impacts on our client's issue. Along the way, by even making good with lower level staff, we show respect and as a result, have continued to manage our contact base. Some of those whom we met years back as junior staffers are now in very high level positions!

Finally, by engaging the broadest possible group – your Board, the wider membership, the client groups of your organization, the media, the members of other political parties, the community at large and your own family and friends – in a shared effort to make things better; we have continued to build bases of support that have made the difference for legislative success.

We engage also a number of other strategies, including online outreach. What strategies have you found successful?


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Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. If you have questions on how you feel your organization could benefit from legislative monitoring services or even undertaking a grassroots advocacy initiative. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca

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