Saturday, March 29, 2008

"People Like to be Asked, and They Like to be Thanked"

The title of this entry is a quote from Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, the former Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. It comes from his autobiography called Man of the House. In Man of the House he tells about his first campaign when he ran for political office in Boston. He narrowly lost the election. He was talking to his landlady after the election who told him that she didn't vote for him because he never asked for her vote. He concluded that story with the quote that appears above.

Many local candidates make the same mistake that O'Neill made in his first race. They don't ask their friends, neighborhoods, and relatives to get involved in their campaigns. They have a variety of reasons. They don't want to appear "pushy". They don't want to intrude. They don't want to presume on their relationships. A lot of the time, though, they are afraid of being rejected.

If you want to run for office, you have to ask people to help you out. Often your friends and relatives want to get involved, but just like you don't want to presume on their time, they don't want to presume on your campaign. They are also afraid of rejection. So many times a potential source of volunteers goes unused.

Just as bad for a campaign, if not worse, is not thanking people for their help. Take the time to send volunteers and donors a thank you note, either written or typed, it doesn't matter. Another thing that you might want to consider is giving your volunteers and donors a souvenir of the campaign, like a T-shirt or a coffee cup. The cost of such items is relatively small compared to the potential benefits.

In any event, thought, Democratic candidates need to learn the O'Neill lesson: People like to be asked and they liked to be thanked."

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