Congratulations! At this point, you are already ahead of thousands of applicants. Even if you are navigating informal coffee meetings, you are already a success. Coffee meetings lead to interview so prepare for each meeting like you would for a real live interview. Here are some tips:
1.) Arrive at least 10 minutes early and be prepared to pay for your own coffee.
2.) Confirm the meeting one day in advance.
3.) Save the staffer’s work email and office telephone number in your mobile device for emergency last-minute changes.
4.) Email or text the staffer with a quick description of your attire in case you’ve never met previously.
5.) Stay conservative with your attire. Wear nothing flashy or distracting (i.e., big college rings, huge watches, or wild accessories.
6.) PLEASE: No wrinkles in your clothing.
7.) MAINTAIN: Crisp delivery. Great attitude. Positive energy. Willingness to work. Passion to serve.
8.) Conduct the proper research in advance. Gather the following data using Time On The Hill, LinkedIn, and Facebook before you sit down with the staffer. Where did the staffer go to college and when? What is the staffer’s policy background? Does the staffer have campaign and fundraising experience? Any personal interests?
9.) Big smile, big handshake, be calm, be welcoming.
10.) Share your gratitude for the time. Share the status on your congressional job search to establish a platform.
11.) Time for questions… you are about to receive solid gold… please utilize the pad and pen.
12.) QUESTION – “What drew you initially to the Halls of Congress? How did you get here?”
13.) QUESTION – “Do you know someone who is an incredible expert when it comes to _____________________ policy?”
14.) QUESTION – “Based on my résumé, what entry point do you think makes the most sense for my skills?”
15.) QUESTION – “What is the best approach to successfully land a congressional opportunity?”
16.) QUESTION – “What major national policy matters will leadership seek to tackle in the coming months?”
17.) Add any additional questions and continue to let the conversation flow and evolve.
18.) DO NOT PRESS the staffer for a job unless the staffer states that he has an opening. This will make the staffer feel uncomfortable and less likely to be of assistance later in the process. The staffer may not have the authority to hire/fire in the office. Be careful.
19.) While it’s important to stay relaxed – whether you realize it or not, THIS IS AN INTERVIEW. Your every word, action, and comment is being observed. Make a strong, humble, and honest impression.
20.) Ask for the names of two/three incredible staffers in order to build a larger congressional network.
21.) Email those new leads IMMEDIATELY.
22.) Thank the staffer for the time.
23.) Hand deliver a thank-you note to the staffer’s office. Don’t seal the envelope.
24.) Add the staffer to your growing “Congressional Working Networking Document.”
25.) Email everyone on your “Congressional Working Networking Document” with a friendly update once every two weeks.
26.) Always include your attachments. These attachments are often passed around via email to other offices in need of talent.
27.) Churn smart new leads from friendly staffers, lobbyists, and your collegiate alumni in Congress.
28.) Conduct this process as quickly as possible. The ideal email rate is no less than three fresh emails to new potential leads each business workday. On average, one lead will return your invite immediately, one lead will never return your message and one lead will return your invite with a suggested meeting date three to five weeks away. In this last scenario, when the meeting date finally arrives, the staffer will suddenly cancel the meeting. Try to cut this off at the pass. Kindly ask for an alternative appointment time within the next 10 business days. State that you are working quickly and to gather valuable guidance and suggestion and do this with a friendly sense of urgency.
29.) Stay organized and record your meeting progress in detail. It is easy to lose track of the who, when, and where, in terms of your networking and outreach success.
___________ ______________ _________________ ______
Name Title Office Date
Ryan Dunn Chief of Staff Rep. Tom Lee (D-CA) 8/3/2017
Conclusion: For every nine (9) emails you send, you will land three (3) coffees with incredibly helpful, valuable, and experienced staff. You don’t need to recreate the wheel. Thousands and thousands of current and former staff have already been through this process to successfully land their first job on the Hill.
Learn from the experience of others and we will see you on the Hill!
30.) Stay organized with your Networking Detail Sheet.