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How to Get Your Advocates Off Their Computers and On the Streets: Part Two

This is a follow-up post (see part one here) giving you a basic checklist of what you’ll need to do to get more of your advocates off the computer and in front of their legislators and community groups.

  1. When you have determined the path, create the infrastructure. Without this, it’s like trying to build a plane while you are flying it. Resources should include training, team structure, defined team member roles, team resources, team communications, reporting structures, events, rewards and recognition, for a start.
  2. Get real. Find out who is willing to go to the next level, and what they are willing to do. I call it measuring commitment intensity. My “Winning Hearts and Minds” research with over 400 grassroots and PAC professionals revealed that commitment intensity is one of their top volunteer management challenges. Be careful here. You have to ask the questions in such a way that reveals the respondent’s true motivation. A simple “Would you be willing to. . .? type of question won’t cut it.
  3. Be a transformational, rather than a transactional leader. Believing that it’s crucial not to excessively breathe one’s own exhaust, I’ve always been honest with my community about any disagreements between Dr. Rhoads and I. One of our favorites is the importance of transformational leadership in getting people offline (I think it’s very important, he’s not convinced). As with any persuasion effort, there are lots of things that impact the process and the ultimate persuasion outcome.
  4. Know your “peeps.” Think like Margaret Mead—you have to be a grassroots anthropologist. What are the behavior patterns of those who started out online and now are your offline avatars? It is driven by the issue? The time of the year? A friend’s activity? If you see a pattern, that will help you know what the offline triggers are and you can integrate them into your communication strategy.

Bottom line, this is a persuasion issue. The vehicles to communicate may have changed, but the science of persuading human beings has not. Be aware of what it takes to escalate existing commitments, and you are off to a fine start.