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Who you know: Finding, growing key contacts for grassroots advocacy

It all comes down to relationships in Washington, D.C.—but those that were cultivated back home have the strongest foundation

Planting keys

Aug. 30, 2019
By William Ehart

Effective lobbying is about personal relationships: the more personal the better.

It’s one thing for a professional lobbyist to build trust with a member of Congress or a state legislator. It’s quite another if the tie that binds goes back to a fraternity, church, or even a relationship by marriage.

Among the 1.3 million members of the National Association of Realtors, there are many with such relationships, and NAR identifies the best of them through its Key Contacts program.

“We have one Realtor for every member of Congress, so there’s 535 key contacts,” said Jim MacGregor, NAR director of advocacy communications and mobilization. “Almost all of them have a personal relationship: They sold their house, worked on their first campaigns, were college roommates, are in-laws, cousins, uncles, it doesn’t matter. There’s some sort of personal connection there.”