What is your impression of the average lobbyist? While most of us know very little about lobbying and the people who do it, those on the inside know that lobbyists are very talented people who work hard on behalf of their clients. It takes a special kind of person to do what lobbyists do.
If you are thinking of a career in political lobbying, the first thing to do is step back and honestly assess yourself. It’s true that anyone can lobby government leaders whether they are professionally employed or not. It is not true that anyone can be a professional lobbyist. Like any other profession, lobbying requires a certain skillset along with some innate abilities.
Below are some of the character traits of successful lobbyists. Do you have what it takes?
The Ability to Build Relationships
At its very core, successful lobbying is all about building relationships with others. Lobbyists have to interact every day with lawmakers, their staff members, the clients they are working for, and even the average Joe on the street. Not being very good at establishing and building new relationships would be a hindrance to a lobbying career.
For example, you may know nothing about government relations in Salt Lake City, Utah. But if you wanted to work for Statehouse Partners, you would have to demonstrate an ability to build relationships. Statehouse Partners would be depending on you to do so as a member of their team.
Effective Communication Skills
Next on the list is the ability to effectively communicate. This is demonstrated on many levels. At the most basic level, it is an ability to articulate your message in a way that hearers understand. Effectively communicating requires good writing skills, a working knowledge of technology, and even the ability to utilize things like social media.
A Persuasive Personality
The number one job of the professional lobbyist is to persuade decision-makers to see things your way. You may do this through education, lively debate, or any other means you believe is possible. At the end of the day though, you will not be a professional lobbyist very long if you are unable to persuade. This suggests that a naturally persuasive personality goes a long way. It is better to be naturally persuasive than have to learn the skill.
An Ability to Explain the Complex
The most successful lobbyists are able to explain the complex in easily understood terms. This ability makes educating lawmakers a lot easier. When you can present ideas in terms they understand, you open the door to successfully persuading them to join your team.
These are just a few of the character traits exhibited by successful lobbyists. There are others, but these four are a good place to start if you are considering a career as a lobbyist. Not possessing these character traits naturally doesn’t automatically disqualify you. If you still have a passion for lobbying, you still might be able to learn these things well enough to succeed.