Novice lobbyists quickly learn that lobbying is a team sport.
The most effective and efficient way to influence lawmakers is to form alliances with others who share your legislative interests and point of view on relevant political issues.
Small business owners frequently participate in lobbying coalitions to multiply the impact of their efforts. In the political arena, lawmakers are more motivated to appease the interests of multiple constituents than they are to advocate for a single business owner.
But what do you do if there are no lobbying coalitions for the issues that are important to you and your company? If you're faced with the choice between going solo and forming a coalition from scratch, building a lobbying coalition is almost always the better option.
- Look for like-minded individuals and leaders. The first step in forming a lobbying coalition is to identify business leaders who share your legislative interests. Friends and acquaintances may not make good coalition members because they may not have as much at stake. Instead, assess the landscape and reach out to individuals who have as much to gain or lose as you do.
- Identify a broad base of issues. From the outset of the coalition, it's important to clarify the coalition's core issues. Although your issues need to be focused, an extremely narrow slate of issues can be divisive. Identify a broad approach to your core issues and create messaging that invites buy-in from a range of coalition members headed in the same general direction.
- Recruit targeted coalition members. After you have formed an initial group of coalition members, consider expanding your ranks by targeting additional, high value coalition members. Coalitions aren't just about numbers – sometimes a select handful of targeted coalition members can be more important than a dozen, random recruits.
- Decide on an action plan. As a group, begin to develop an actionable lobbying strategy. Various members of the coalition can be assigned specific tasks that leverage their natural skill set, business strengths, and existing political relationships. Every member of the coalition should be encouraged to proactively reach out to others in their business network and in the local community.
- Maintain momentum. Maintaining momentum can be the most difficult part of forming a lobbying coalition. Coalition members tend to start out enthusiastically, but lose focus as the coalition ages. To maintain the motivation level, break long-term lobbying goals down into smaller, incremental goals so you can demonstrate a return to coalition members and to the community at large.