9 Do’s and 1 Don’t for the Shot@Life Champion Summit
With the Shot@Life Champion Summit in Washington, D.C. quickly approaching, I wanted to offer some insider information to help you prepare for the exciting event. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you make the most of your summit experience.
#1 Do: Remember you are among friends.
While the Summit can seem a bit intimidating, you share a common goal with every one of the 100+ people attending: the desire to make sure children around the globe get access to lifesaving vaccines. That’s a strong connection. Also, these people are really good and interesting folks.
When I walked into my first Summit, I knew only one other person attending, and her flight was delayed. I was on my own, but I was fine because everyone was kind and welcoming. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation by asking others what drew them to the summit. You’ll have new friends in no time. Also, as happens when you’re among friends, come prepared to share some laughs. Shot@Life champions advocate for a serious cause, but we also have a lot of fun.
#2 Do: Think about your connection to the cause and be able to summarize that in a few sentences.
Not only will you be sharing with fellow champions why you’re there, but lawmakers and their staffers will want to know why you care about global vaccination programs.
Be able to succinctly summarize your personal connection, whether that’s because you have children in your life, you appreciate that vaccines are a public health best buy, you’re a healthcare worker, you know with infectious disease that a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere, you’ve traveled abroad and seen how vaccine access is limited, or something else. Feel free to practice in front of the mirror, even if it feels a little silly.
#3 Do: Come ready to learn and be inspired.
From scientists to political insiders, the Summit speakers are impressive. Champions learn and come away with a deeper understanding of the issues thanks to their unique perspectives. Knowledge gained from those sessions can be useful in meetings on the Hill. Be prepared to be inspired by them, their experience and their expertise.
#4 Do: Know that all your meetings are important.
Every meeting is a chance to make our message heard and move closer to our goal. While member level meetings are always exciting, know that meetings with staffers are impactful as well.
Remember that you are building relationships with staffers. Assume that you’ll be meeting with these people for years to come and act in a way that makes them look forward to seeing you. (I met with one staffer five years in a row!)
#5 Do: Keep an open mind and positive thoughts, especially on Capitol Hill.
While you never know exactly how a meeting on Capitol Hill might go, keep an open mind and positive mindset. Shot@Life and global childhood vaccination programs have bipartisan support and our message is warmly received more often than not.
A few years ago, I entered a meeting that I thought could go very poorly. I was so wrong. Imagine my surprise when the representative walked in, immediately stated his support, and shared stories from his time in Africa where he witnessed first-hand the obstacles to vaccine delivery. Going in with a more positive mindset and approaching the meeting as a conversation that was likely to go well would have made me a better advocate, and saved me a lot of worry. It’s a mistake I won’t make again.
#6 Do: Say “thank you” – often.
“Thank you” is a powerful phrase. Expressing gratitude for the opportunity to discuss the cause and Shot@Life’s funding requests is always a good idea, both in person and after the meeting. Saying thank you via social media and tagging the lawmakers is particularly effective.
#7 Do: Make sure you’re fully charged
Send those social media thank you’s, taking photos and making notes on any needed follow up, can deplete your phone’s battery. Definitely start the day with it charged. Consider bring an additional source of power for your phone, like a power bank or portable charger.
#8 Do: Wear comfortable shoes for Hill Day.
File this under “lessons I’ve learned the hard way and want to prevent others from making.” Make sure you love your shoes prior to Hill Day. For my first Summit, I wore shoes that I *thought* would be comfortable. Ten thousand steps later, I had blisters the size of Dallas.
The following year, I brought walking shoes to wear in between meetings and quickly slipped on more professional flats before heading into meetings.
#9 Do: Pack your patience and flexibility.
Patience and flexibility are always good to have in abundance, especially when entering federal buildings and dealing with the sometimes unpredictable schedules of lawmakers.
#1 Don’t: Feel like you have to know everything or have all the answers.
Manufacturing and delivering vaccines can be very complicated, as is the federal budget. You are not expected to know everything. If you get asked a question on Hill Day and you don’t know the answer to, don’t panic. Just say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll get back to you.” It is an opportunity to get the information you need from Shot@Life staff then continue the conversation while establishing yourself as a trusted source of information.
We are excited to welcome you to the Summit at the end of the month! If you have any questions, reach out to email@example.com!