Don't wait until an important bill is in your legislator's committee or on the floor to develop contacts. Start early. As President Lyndon Johnson said, "Make friends before you need them."
Knowing legislators and their staff personally is the first step to being heard.
Attend an event sponsored by your legislator. Don't miss the chance to visit with your legislators in your district at town hall meetings or other events. OSBA’s Opportunities for advocacy webpage maintains a listing of events hosted by state legislators.
Set up a meeting and introduce yourself. This is especially important if the lawmaker is new. Stop by their offices in Salem, even if you are just passing through. Legislative schedules can be tricky, so make an appointment if you can, and make sure to develop contacts with the legislators' staffs. Floor maps of the Oregon State Capitol are available to help you navigate the building.
Welcome them to your district. Don't assume that just because legislators grew up in your district or have children in your schools that they know how you would like them to vote on every education issue. In coordination with your superintendent, give legislators tours of your schools often, at least on an annual basis. Show them the good things that are happening in your schools. Explain the challenges your district faces and show them the areas where your district needs additional support. Invite them to school events and make sure they are on the mailing list for your district's newsletter. They won't be able to attend every function, but the more time they spend with you and the students, the more likely they are to support your cause.
Take the time to get to know your legislator. The Oregon State Legislature website features a Find Your Local District and Legislator tool that will allow you to verify your legislative district and individual legislators. Here you will find links to your legislator’s state webpage, which has contact information, biography, newsletters and a list of committees on which they sit.
Establish a friendly relationship by finding common friends or interests, especially if the legislator has any connection to your schools, such as children or a spouse. Be sure to address legislators as "Representative" or "Senator," always thank them for their time and express interest in keeping in touch, even if they disagree with your position this time.