IREM held its annual Capitol Hill Fly-In March 5th and 6th. We interviewed Liz Shanahan, a Property Manager with Avison Young, who’s had the pleasure of participating in the Fly-In 5 times! Read on to hear more about what to expect when you join in next year!
Liz, what was your experience getting setup, going through the orientation trainings, and setting up the meetings on Capitol Hill?
- It was relatively easy, especially since most representatives allow you to request a meeting via their webpages. Once they respond, it’s easy to finalize plans from there. I recommend scheduling all your meetings for either the morning or afternoon, so you can complete everything in half a day.
- The online IREM training webinars were very informative and made me feel like I knew what was going on and had a grasp of the process ahead of time.
- The orientation meeting the day before was excellent! They did a panel, with different people speaking about the issues and highlighting dos and don’ts.
What motivated you to participate?
- It’s fun to go down there. Whether you meet with your representative or their staffers, being in their offices and in that environment is a very cool experience.
Who did you meet with, and how did you feel during your visit?
- I met with staffers for both meetings. They take good notes on your comments and do their best to understand what it is you’re there for. You can sense that they’re trying to get a good understanding so they can accurately pass it on to their congress member. The meetings are brief, and don’t last more than 15 minutes.
On the day of, what do you recommend logistically?
- Don’t drive, using the metro is the way to go! Security is like going to the airport, but not quite as stringent. Going through the side doors is often quicker than the main entrance. After the group breakfast, there’s usually a big group you can walk over with.
What advice would you have on picking talking points for a first timer?
- IREM and NAR provide a lot of information on the various recommended points, which makes preparing easy. I recommend getting a group of 3-4 colleagues together from your local chapter that are from different sectors of our industry (commercial, residential, office). That way you can split up the issues, with each person highlighting a point they can relate to. Going with a group also helps take the pressure off!
Is there anything else you’d share with someone considering it for the first time?
- The staffers you meet during your visit are very nice and accommodating. They want you to feel at ease and work to make your visit enjoyable. Even if you’re just dropping off some information for your representative, you can tell they want to help you. Don’t be afraid to jump in!
There you have it! By setting aside a half day away from the office, you get to interface with your IREM colleagues from around the country, take a trip to Capitol Hill, and share points that effect you personally in your roles. And don’t forget the chance to snap a pic with your representative for the Gram! Seriously though, those that participate can walk away knowing they’ve taken an active role in helping steer the future of our industry with the issues that matter most. If you haven’t had the chance to participate yet, can you make it a goal to join in next year?