How to build relationships with government

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Knowing your local MPs can be more valuable than most things.   
 
In the complex environment that connects government and business, getting your issues on the table can seem like a daunting task. However, getting to know the MPs responsible for your industry can make a big difference when your business needs help, so it is important that relationship building starts early and is maintained.
 
Getting to know the local member of parliament (MP), or MPs responsible for the area (or areas) in which your business operates is the first step in establishing an effective government engagement strategy. Your local MP should understand the issues your business or industry faces and the contribution you make both to the local area and the wider state or even the nation.
 
This relationship can be key to gaining support within government. It doesn’t matter too much whether the local MP is a member of the government or opposition, as in the longer term these positions may change, and the aim should always be to try and achieve bipartisan support. 
 
Here are some simple ideas to help kick start your approach:
 
  1. Update your contacts database – government staffers change and move so a spring clean of your contact list is always important.
  2. Keep an eye on changes and be proactive. Send new ministers and MPs your congratulations, introduce your organisation and let them know you look forward to meeting them at some stage.
  3. Identify the relationships you’ll need with non-elected and elected government representatives (be they government or opposition) to achieve support for your projects.
  4. Do some research to find the right people and approach them – MPs that have some connection or particular interest in your industry may be helpful and advocate on your behalf – even if they aren’t your local MP.
  5. Add value; a relationship is a two-way street. You may have information that your MP can access to help their constituents, or you might express willingness to collaborate on future policy formulation. Keep your contacts up to date on your work and in the loop where possible – you never know what you might get out of it.
At the end of the year, after Parliament has risen, MPs will head to their electorates to engage with their constituents at local events where voters get to see and talk to their local member. There will be opportunities for you to engage with your local MP. Getting to know them is a great way to start a broader engagement with their party colleagues – be they ministers or Opposition spokespeople.
 
Cannings Purple has consultants with a diverse range of experience within government – from policy, regulatory and approvals processes within the public service, to senior positions within the offices of State and Federal Government Ministers. We can help you develop a government engagement strategy and put it into action.
 

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