Hill Staffer Seeks Lobbyist Friend
Posted at 3 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2013
Hill Navigator has long believed one needs to network both on and off Capitol Hill. Particularly if you’re contemplating a job switch, having a contact put your résumé on top of the (metaphorical) pile can do wonders for getting that initial interview. But what if you don’t know people who can help? And just how do you meet those elusive “lobbyists” everyone talks about but no one claims to be? Hill Navigator discusses below.
Q. I work on the Hill and after the recent shutdown, I am more than ready to leave. I am a junior staffer and do not meet many lobbyists on the job. Are there restaurants/bars you can recommend where I may run into more lobbyists? All the Hill bars are overrun with just staffers. Thanks!
A. Back in the day, the Hill bars would be overrun with lobbyists as well — they’d be the ones in the nice suits and silk ties, picking up the tab for just about everyone. But then new ethics rules rolled in and everyone began paying for their own drinks. The back rooms of Hawk ‘n’ Dove were never the same.
But there are plenty of ways to meet and connect with lobbyists that do not involve free drinks, or free lunch for that matter. You work on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists are eager to meet you and talk to you, even if it just gives them another excuse to camp out in the Longworth cafeteria.
Even as a junior staffer, you surely have some legislative issues you are connected to, even if it’s a distant connection. Constituent mail counts!
Pick several issues you’d like to know more about and contact the relevant organizations. Ask to set up a meeting to learn more. A lobbyist worth a shred of his or her expense account will jump at the opportunity to meet with a curious staffer. Even if the big-wig lobbyist is too busy, he can send one of his minions. And don’t be turned off by the junior lobbyist; they are in the same position as you: looking to connect, talk about the issues and do the job. And like you, the once-junior staffers have a tendency to move up. No one stays a staff assistant forever.