January 20, 2018

By Lindsay Fountain


This is part two of our first blog on Networking and Rolodexing. Be sure to check it out if you missed it!

So you’ve built your campaign rolodex — the amount of information in front of you might be overwhelming — but don’t you fret. NDTC is here with a guide to organizing and categorizing your rolodex and improve your campaign networking.

Keeping this digital information organized helps your campaign operate efficiently by making prioritizing clean and simple. It’s a somewhat tedious task, but ultimately pays off in the end.

Organizing and Categorizing

While you were building your rolodex, you probably had thoughts on who would be a dependable supporter, who would make a good volunteer or donor — and who probably wouldn’t be the most reliable on the campaign trail.

This is all good information that you should record in your database for future networking.

Here we’ll break down why we’ve included the columns listed in the template.

  • Relationship & Contacted: The relationship column will help you separate your friends and family from your professional contacts — you’re probably going to talk to your family differently than you would with a former boss from your last job. You’ll also indicate people you’ve contacted while knocking doors, through phone calls, or any other field operation you have going.
  • Local: It’s handy to know who’s in your district and is more likely available than those who live outside of your area. However, people who live outside of your district are a valuable resource, too: they can help make calls, knock doors, and show up to campaign events.
  • Donors: Every single person is a potential donor, and should be ranked in two ways. First, rank them according to how likely you think they are to contribute. Then rank them by the amount you think they’re able to contribute.

Feeling uncertain in your ability to ask for contributions? You’d be surprised by how much people are willing to donate when asked. Check out our course on Making the Ask to help build your confidence when asking for donations.

  • Volunteers: Identify who you think will knock doors and make phone calls, host events, or endorse your campaign. Also make a note of who would take on a leadership role — the kinds of tasks this person would handle include organizing events, tracking finances, designing graphics, and creating content for your website and social media profiles.
  • Endorser/Validator: This person is someone whose name and opinion is credible to a certain group of people in your community. You might want to eventually ask for an official endorsement that you can display on your website and ask that person to show their support for your candidacy.

Examples of validators include: elected officials, the president of your homeowners’ association, the head of the PTA, the person who runs the local food bank, etc. — someone that people in the community thinks highly of.

This is a brief summary of how you should organize your rolodex — for a more detailed explanation, be sure to take our networking course on Building Your Network.

Once you have the foundation of your network organized, here are some other groups you should get to know that can help build your support:

  • Your local Democratic Party: stay tuned for our blog on why Gatekeepers & Party Folks are important to get to know this Friday!
  • Political issue & movement groups: groups that are politically engaged outside of partisan politics that focus on issues you support can be a great addition to your rolodex.
  • Affinity, religious, & social groups: just because a group isn’t tied to politics doesn’t mean they’re not important to your network. Consider groups at the local church, groups that meet at the local LGTBQ+ resource center, etc.
  • Financial support PACs: political action committees are a great resource to have when it comes to fundraising.
  • Labor unions: these groups usually big supporters of Democratic candidates and a great way to build your reputation in the community.

Building Intentional Relationships

You’ve gathered the contacts you need to build relationships for your campaign, but how you make these connections is important.

These relationships aren’t transactional: you can’t put minimum effort in and expect maximum gain. These take time and effort, but the payoff is well-worth the investment. Here is a quick summary of our 6-steps to networking and building intentional relationships:

  1. Find your ‘in’: Identify how you can begin a conversation with this person — how do you know them? How can you introduce yourself? Do you have a friend in common?
    Listen first, but be prepared to speak: People want to feel heard, but they also want to know more about you and why you’re running.
  2. Engage the whole group: You might be trying to contact only the leader of a group, but it’s important to show interest in the group as a whole and engage everyone.
  3. Be considerate and get creative: Always respect the space and leave a good impression. The way you attend a Democratic Party meeting is very different from the way you would interact with people in a church. Be aware of the norms of the group and the space so that you can connect with group members properly.
  4. Don’t expect immediate results: Building intentional relationships takes time. You’ll have to consistently attend meetings and show interest and investment in the group in order for members to show interest and investment in your campaign.
  5. Respect the process: Some groups may offer a formal investment or potentially even financial support — be sure you understand the processes for securing these kinds of support. It may be a written request, a nomination from someone in the group, or having to participate in a Q&A with group members.

Again, we have a much more detailed list in our Building Your Network networking course, so be sure to check that out!