It is not easy to find a good lobbyist, because someone who on paper has all the right qualifications may well find it bewildering to work in the European lobbying environment. It is also possible that you can be a good lobbyist in theory and do all the right things but get nowhere. A good lobbyist is results driven. A good lobbyist is determined, flexible and an extrovert. He or she combines broad theoretical knowledge of the inner workings of the EU with a mastery of the brief and a sound understanding of the technical evidence and legal aspects. Often EU decision-makers can spot the difference between just the PR approach and someone who has a grasp of both the scope and limits in the EU institutions for changing draft legislation and what is happening in the market place and society.

A good lobbyist has to have advocacy skills in formal settings. This means briefing and debriefing and organising the delegation, so that presentations and follow-ups are well structured. It also means having the ability to get the message across in one minute and hand over a paper when you meet one of the decision-makers by chance in a lift or corridor of the Parliament. Lobbyists are non-hierarchical networkers- sometimes it is just as important to be in touch with the technical staff or assistant of an MEP as with a leading politician.

Communication skills should extend to the written word. The ability to adapt the message at each stage of the decision-making process, to different institutional concerns, and to translate the general message into a proposal for a specific amendment which fits the process, is essential. Key messages cannot just be repeated over and over again, but must be constantly re-worded, adjusted and targeted to the absorption capacity of different audiences. At the same time, the good European lobbyist has to keep the wider network at national level properly informed and at each key stage prepared for the next. It is important to keep the network motivated and well-informed, but without tying them up in too much red tape and more amendments than they have time for. The good lobbyist has to have the persistence to get in early and to stay the course, but also persistence, tempered with good manners and a helpful attitude. For example, it is not a good idea to interrupt other people's conversations, go to an office without fixing an appointment, or try to stop a Member of the European Parliament on their way to voting in the plenary sessions.

It is important to insist on qualifications for a good lobbyist because case studies suggest that where organisations find the resources to make someone responsible for lobbying at all stages of the decision-making process the campaign is more likely to succeed.

For help mastering the art of lobbying in the EU, you can take advantage of the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Lobbying (EIASL), which offers training courses specifically oriented towards the practice of lobbying and EU affairs and has the distinct advantage of delivering a double diploma: A university diploma in European lobbying delivered by the University of Strasbourg and an Executive Master in Advocacy.

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