Be the Best You Can Be on Your First Day in the Capitol

State Government Affairs (SGA) is a great field. Whether it’s one step on your path to upper management or it’s to be your career, SGA gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself and to your employers that you can learn to handle the arbitrary, wise, petty, noble, and the occasionally irrational, as power at the top tends to be.

Within your organization, you have established yourself. That’s why you are going to the capitol. In the capitol you again will get that one chance to leave a career determinative first impression, good or ill. It’s not age or experience or lack thereof that will matter. What will matter is how well you prepare yourself for that first day, personally and technically.

My first rule of lobbying is, “Likeability is Job #1.” If colleagues, lawmakers, and staff like you they will want to help you; if they don’t like you they will try to bypass you. Being likable requires humility without apology. You are a new face in the capitol. Apologizing for being new needlessly undermines you and your principal. That you have a principal says you are capable. You just need to “learn the ropes.” Secular or religious, let Proverbs 17:28 guide your personal interactions.

As for technical preparation, prepare by mining the Lobby School’s Free Resources. Read and then reread the free 27 Fundamentals for Effective Lobbying. You have a lot to learn. Start slow. Pieces will come together as formal learning combines with field experience.

You don’t need to prove what you know. You need to prove who you are. Be humble with others and patient with yourself. Prepare. Be confident. That first impression you give others may determine the rest of your career in the capitol and professionally. Do it right.

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