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The best time to recruit is now

July 12, 2014 11:29 AM
By George Kendall in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

I find the most powerful words before asking for help are "thank you".

With ten months still to go before the next election, if you knock on a supporter's door, you're not just yet another politician, who only calls at election times. And if the first thing you say is "thank you", that's powerful.

When I do it, I get smiles of surprise and pleasure. They know perfectly well that there's another reason for my visit, but we all like to be thanked.

A lot of us are nervous to ask for help. We worry that people who have voted for us might be offended, but that's not my experience.

If you canvassed someone in the run-up to May, and they said they planned to vote for us, then they are someone who wants us to succeed. They know we can use more volunteers to make that happen. So calling on supporters to ask if they'd like to help is the most natural thing in the world.

I find recruiting the most pleasant of campaigning activities. We're calling on friends. Even if they are too busy, they respond warmly. They thank me for calling, and apologise if they can't help. Asking hasn't made them less likely to vote Liberal Democrat, quite the opposite. After all, why would anyone be less likely to support a party that shows organisation, ambition and initiative?

Many are too busy, but if you keep at it, before long you'll meet one of the real gems. People who have always wanted to help, but they've just been waiting for someone to ask. People who'll happily give of their time to deliver a few leaflets, and perhaps a lot more.

When you find a new volunteer, it's a great feeling. They have joined a great cause, to work for the great values that our party stands for. For tolerance and compassion, combined with a commitment to face the tough challenges facing the country, whether the dangers of global warming, or the risks to our country if we don't sort out the country's finances. A party with the courage to stand up against the prejudice and dishonesty of much of the tabloid press.

When you think of the hours of time this new volunteer will give in the coming years, you'll feel great to have found them.

My memories of recruiting are of wonderful people. One guy who filled out a membership direct debit for a hundred pounds, and then enthusiastically seized my hand and thanked me. The woman who enthusiastically agreed to deliver for us, then explained how Tom Brake MP had taken up a case for her, and his work had completely turned her life around. A while back, I met an activist who had personally signed up Baroness Ros Scott. Who knows, maybe you too will recruit a future President of the party.

Recruiting isn't rocket science. Anyone can do it. Anyone can succeed. The most important thing is to get started. After that, you just need to persist until you find one of those people who've always wanted to help us, but were waiting for someone to ask. Once you have a success, it'll be much easier to keep going.

There are ways to get better. Some forms of words work better than others, and you'll improve with practice. However, a lot of people find it hard to get started. It can help to get some training, and even more to team up with others who've done it before. If that's you, there are opportunities in the coming weeks.

On August 2 we've got an Action Day in Ashfield. There will be free food, lots of time to socialise, and other campaigning activities. But, most importantly there will be Voter ID and delivering leaflets. recruiting, with briefings, materials, on-the-job training, and a chance for new people to buddy up with someone who has done it before.

If you're not near or not available on those dates, there are lots of other local parties who are doing recruitment this summer, all around the country. If you're one of these parties, why not drop a line to action@eastmidslibdems.org.uk with the date and time, and a way for people who are interested to contact you?

If there's nothing that's convenient for you, fill in this form. I'll make a point of seeking out a local party in your region, where you can give recruitment a go.

Recruitment is enjoyable, but, more important, it's an incredibly time-efficient way to help build the party and contribute to the great cause we all believe in.

If you are not a member but would like to join you can join on line here

* George Kendall has been a member since he joined a predecessor party in 1981, is a member in Cambridge, and likes to organise Regional Action Days. He writes for Liberal Democrat Voice in a personal capacity.