By Christian Hawkins, Recruiter, HFS LLC
May 16, 2022
Political Door Knocking
Although knocking on someone's door to deliver information is an age old tradition. Yet "Whatever happened to predictability?" By the milkman, paperboy, and evening TV which came from the cable guy who showed up at your door. The ritual of someone coming to your door has become... well... unusual in recent years. To do well in this role, you have to understand that you will not be welcome at every door you knock on. In fact some doors you may want to just avoid. What is important though is that you build rapport with the folks who do welcome you at the door. This is critical for your success.
Someone knocked on my door and I excitedly answered. I opened the door and was immediately disappointed because it was missionaries and not the pizza guy. On this page, we are going to talk about building rapport, staying motivated, and staying healthy, while door knocking for political campaigns. It is very important you remember the big picture; even though you will deal with some tough interactions and questions from people, it is okay that you do not know the answers to the questions that are asked. It is okay to tell someone, "I don't know the answer to that question but will write it down and see to it that someone or myself will get back with you." It is okay that people declined to answer your survey, just move on to the next door. Keep swimming to the next door; the next adventure. Learn to be a gold fish; forget the small negative stuff and focus on the positive and big picture.
When these missionaries saw me open the door I said, "Well dang... You don't have my pizza." I went to shut my door. What would you do in their position? I recommend, smiling and saying, "No sir/ma'am, I don't have your pizza but I was just stopping by to see if you needed anything and would be willing to answer my short survey." That rebuttal is going to make or break your entire interaction as you may be struck with instant dismissal. Learn how to overcome that. If they say, "No thanks," a second time then it is okay to move on. Don't respond to anger with anger. It just doesn't work. What is important is that you TRIED and SMILED. You can go to your supervisor and honestly tell them, you TRIED and SMILED.
"No sir, I don't have your pizza, but I was just stopping by to visit and wanted to know if you needed anything. The reason I'm here is to ask you this short survey on behalf of [insert campaign here.]" You'll be assigned a survey for every campaign. Usually this is app based. It is certainly not required to be tech savvy but it certainly doesn't hurt.
"Well thank you. Personally, I'm just hungry for my dinner but I won't get hangry for you about that. I'd be happy to answer your survey." This is a clear explanation that the person, me, only has a certain amount of patience. You certainly don't want to get pushy or selfish. If someone, like me, expresses themselves with a sense of humor, it's okay to joke around with them. It is possible to joke around, cut loose, but be respectful;.
"Ok thanks. I'll keep it short. Do you go to church somewhere locally?" (A political campaign will usually ask if you plan to vote). This is straight to the point. "I heard you loud and clear that you are short on time and are hungry right now. I appreciate you hearing me out. My question is...." Be prepared to ask the survey. Don't waste their time or yours.
"Well ever since Covid hit, I've been mostly watching online but would love to find a new community." This is the type of answer you want. Instead of simply saying, "I don't answer surveys," "Why don't you leave?" Etc, I gave an honest answer. Document this in your survey as well as you can and move on.
"Well great! That answers all my questions which were, 'Are you a Christian and attending church?' and to see if there are any needs I/we can meet for you?" It is good to confirm that you asked all the questions but stayed conversational.
"That's very kind of you to check up on me. Thank you. Have a great day!" Here's your closer. Say something unique and something they'll remember.
Let's recap! Although, I immediately expressed distrust and disappointment in that individual knocking on my door, he stayed polite and I mirrored his behavior– reciprocated his kindness. Unless someone is having a really bad day, usually they will do the same. This positivity and sincerity is critical for your success as a campaigner. Your conduct and attitude will lead to your employer building trust in you, likely leading to them giving you increased responsibility and usually pay raises.
One other important note about this interaction is that, he was not required to ask me anything after I dismissed him the first time. He wasn't obligated to say anything to me after I told him, "You aren't the pizza guy!" He chose to anyway which lead to a successful survey. How does someone stay positive and motivated after hitting 20 or 30 doors that were all negative to him or her in the last hour? Staying healthy and prepared.
How do I stay healthy and prepared for a campaign? Let's start with the basics! Know how to pack. Say you just got hired and are about to drive or even fly to a campaign.
Here is a list of what to pack and why:
10 to 14 sets of comfortable clothes. (Prepare for all types of weather events from rain to blistering shine.) I also say 10 to 14 because this about 1 laundry load of clothes.
1 to 2 set(s) of dressy clothes. (You are there to win the campaign, get prepared to celebrate like you are going on stage with the candidate him/herself. Eyes are on you. Be prepared!)
Hair Brush, Razors, Shaving Cream (Just be like who you would want to show up at your door; clean and well groomed.)
Shampoo, Body Wash, Deodorant, Tooth Brush, Tooth Paste, Mouth Wash, Gum, and Mints (Great if you use any vices on your time off and do not want a scent.)
A transparent water bottle, something with electrolytes and caffeine if needed. (Staying hydrated and full of energy is a big help.)
Cash for food; breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if any meals aren't provided by the campaign. (Many times meals are provided but it is certainly best to prepare for any scenario.)
Over the counter medication for common colds, allergies, stomach issues, and immune system. (Always default to your doctor for medical advice but we recommend preparing for any situation. If you take a prescription it is best for you to make sure you have enough medication on hand for the entirety of the campaign.)
You'll need a valid form of ID. Double check what you have in your checked luggage and carry on luggage. Remember if you are flying to stay TSA compliant. (Thank the Patriot Act.)
If you are driving to the campaign instead of flying:
You'll likely have more space to pack so save some money by buying Laundry Detergent (If you are nice enough to share people will LOVE you.)
Bring chargers for phones, battery packs, and a music subscription. (Long drives go good with music and recharging. Play and do what soothes you and I bet it'll will sooth others too.)
Trash bags and cleaning supplies. (You'll likely have other people in your car. There's going to be messes, chaos, and trash from long trips.)
Snacks, gum, bottled water. (Less time and money spent at the gas station, the better!)
Car insurance and a gas budget.
Healthy boundaries. (It is okay to share your hesitations and limits. Remember it is your car, if you don't want to listen to certain music or have someone smoking in your car, let them know.)
If you forget or are in need of something, IT IS OKAY! Simply let your supervisor know and partner with them on a solution.
I hope this bit of advice helps you on the campaign trail. If there is ever any questions I can answer, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call me at 979.661.0978. Remember YOU are the change you wish to see in the world.
Are you interested in starting a career in politics? Go to hawksflysouth.com/canvasing