I was in Washington, DC most of last week for SHRM’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference.  As a part of the conference, you can sign up to go to Capital Hill to meet with and lobby your legislators.

But here’s something strange.  It was amazing to me how many of the conference attendees were complaining after their visits to “The Hill.”  The most common complaint I overheard was, “I wanted to actually meet with my legislator.  Who was the kid or the aide I just met with?”

Even though this conference offered several preparatory sessions before the lobbying event, they must not have attended.  I’ve lobbied on several occasions and there’s one thing you have to understand.  Sometimes you’re lucky enough to actually get in front of your elected official.  But many times you instead have to meet with one of his/her aides.  And in many cases, those aides are younger than you – sometimes they’re recent college graduates or even still in college.  But that’s part of lobbying.  It doesn’t matter how old the aide is.  They might be a subject matter expert or in charge of the research for that area.  Or better yet, they might have your Senator’s ear.  So be prepared, share some compelling information and get on their radar.  And that, my fellow HR colleagues, is lobbying 101.

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