How to Run for Office: Networking and Rolodexing - National Democratic Training Committee

You’re not going to win this election on your own. Your personal network is going to provide the foundation on which you are going to build your campaign.

What exactly is a network? Your network is practically every person you’ve ever met or every person that you’ve formed a relationship with. And we mean ‘relationship’ in the broadest sense.

Your Network

Your kid’s friend’s parent. The plumber who fixed your garbage disposal years ago. Your spouse or partner’s dentist. Former colleagues you’ve worked with from previous jobs — these are all connections that are invaluable. Basically anyone that you have regular contact with can be apart of your network.

There is mighty strength in numbers, and you will want to explore every existing relationship you have before you start building new ones.

As you start to construct your rolodex, prepare yourself to talk to every single person you know and call in every favor you’re owed for this campaign. Your personal connections are going to form the foundation of your network that you can then build out. The relationships in your life matter, and this is where they really come into play.

Building the Foundation

You’re going to need to expand your network starting from the personal relationships you already have. Create opportunities to meet new people and improve your already-existing relationships with others.

While it’s important to get to know the entire community for your campaign, if you win the election, you’re going to be representing these people for as long as you’re in that office. Get to know these people, their families, and what really matters to them during the course of your campaign and beyond.

Showing a vested interest in these people will lead to them showing a vested interest in you and your campaign.

The first thing you’re going to do is rolodex yourself: put all of your information about your personal contacts in one place. This can be in an Excel spreadsheet or any kind of campaign database software you have; just be sure it’s digital for easy access, editing, and organization. Handwritten rolodexes are in the past.

Here are some ideas for places to draw from when you start building your rolodex:

  • Phone, computer, email
  • Physical address books
  • Wedding invitation list
  • Holiday card list
  • Spouse/partner’s contacts
  • Boards, charities, and professional groups you’re associated with
  • High school and college alumni groups
  • Religious organizations
  • Neighborhood directory

If you’re going to use an Excel spreadsheet or something similar, there’s no need to recreate the wheel. We’ve made one for you. Make a copy of our template to create your own digital rolodex!

Once you’ve built your list and are ready to take the next step, check out our Building Your Network course!

In sum, rolodexing is a huge part of getting your campaign off the ground and ensuring that it thrives. While it isn’t the quickest project, you’ll thank yourself in the end for investing that time.

Tomorrow, Gatekeepers and Party Folks.

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