Recently, I attended an event with numerous political groups using that event to reach out to the community about their political party or movement.
While there, I witnessed some astonishing behavior posing as outreach, some of which I couldn’t believe. I offered some advice, though I’ll offer more here today.
These days, my outreach activities are mostly internal, within the libertarian movement, though I do have significant experience “in the trenches.” Through that experience I took steps to learn how to improve the results, whether I was to persuading someone to re-examine their political home, convincing them to vote for my candidate, or introducing them to a new organization.
One of the best lessons I learned to improve my outreach was to constantly think to myself that “You might be the first libertarian this person has ever met.”
When you ARE that first libertarian contact, you are an ambassador to libertarianism.
You represent every libertarian in the movement at that point in time to that person. He or she will be left with a permanent impression, good or bad, about libertarians going forward.
First impressions matter.
If you leave a bad first impression, you’ve just made it that much harder for your fellow libertarians. They now have to overcome that negative impression to persuade that person to consider libertarian ideas. If you left a REALLY bad first impression, he or she might have told others about how terrible libertarians are.
Luckily, there are more libertarians today than ever. Since the Advocates’ founding in 1985, we’ve identified and recruited countless people to accept libertarian ideas, philosophy, and way of life. Even on college campuses, where freedom seems to be a dirty word, our partner organizations, Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty, have opened the door, as well as hearts and minds, to thousands that now yearn for a libertarian society.
Honestly, I hope that you are not the first libertarian contact. That is not because I think you will give a bad first impression. You’re clearly interested in being a better ambassador for libertarianism by keeping yourself informed about the libertarian movement and how you can be a better representative of the philosophy. I hope you are not the first libertarian contact because of the growth of the libertarian movement.
Whether or not you are the first, act like you are. I can guarantee the results are better when you do.