Few things are more gratifying as a candidate than a friendly smile, a warm handshake, or the occasional pat on the back. However, these positive connections don’t always come easy. They must be earned.
How does one approach a stranger and leave a friend? There are a few tips that are key to reaching people during canvasing, signature gathering, or in general campaigning that are essential to becoming a successful (and viable) candidate.
1. Smile and wave. Do this to EVERYONE
you see. Wave at people you don’t even intend to
approach. Always smile, and always keep your eye out
for an opportunity to make a human connection. You will feel happier, more
confident, and more approachable!
2. Dress the part. Amazingly enough a candidate does not always have to
wear a suit and tie! If you appear out of place you will be! A general rule of
thumb: dress one step above the average attire for the event. Anything more
than that and you’ve overdressed. IF YOU OVERDRESS, lose the jacket, lose
the tie, and roll up the sleeves!
3. Shake a hand or two. Human touch is a powerful thing. Take the
opportunity to make a human connection by simply shaking a hand.
4. Ease into the Info. Often times we are so excited about our campaign or
candidate that we forget the fact that the stranger you just approached hasn’t
actually been talking politics all day long. Start very small. Introduction and
handshake, followed by a small statement, like asking them to sign your petition.
While they are signing, simply ask them if they would like to know anything
about the campaign or your positions. If they do, be prepared to keep it short,
but NEVER cut them off. Remember, this may be their only interaction with a
candidate or your campaign. Let them air their grievances or opinions.
5. LISTEN. Yes… just listen. Don’t challenge, don’t correct them, just listen.
You can participate in the conversation, but don’t simply try to make them hear
you. Take the time to listen, even if they are complaining about potholes to a
State Legislative candidate. If they feel comfortable enough to open up they
are trying to make that human connection. Make them your priority in that
moment and let them be heard.
6. Exit with grace. Not everyone is friendly or wanting to talk. You should learn to read a person’s mood or availability before you approach. If you read incorrectly, smile and thank them. Offer them a wave not a handshake. Be on your way. If you have made a connection, however, offer a handshake, a smile and say their name. As you are walking away, turn, smile, and wave one last time – something small goes a long way.
C. Michael Pickens
C. Michael Pickens is the CMO and Co-Founder of CannaSales, Inc., former Northern Vice-Chairman of the LPCA and Chairman of the LPWA, and author of the book, "Libertarian Leadership."