From the minute you announce your campaign, your top priority is building your base. You need donors, you need voters and you need endorsers and influencers. Some people will fall into more than one category, but knowing who you know, what they bring to the table and why they should care about your race is key to your fundraising and “friend-raising” success.

Politics is relationship building on steroids. Nothing is more important than authenticity, and nothing turns a prospective voter off more than a candidate who is faking it. Being the best version of yourself will always serve you better than trying to create the illusion that you are someone you’re not.

There are skills you are born with and skills you learn. Those who are born with natural abilities in one area, usually need training in other areas. We all have the capacity to learn and improve in many areas, but in the political arena, nothing is more critical than your communication skills. You need to be able to convey who you are, but more importantly, you need to inspire prospective voters and donors to believe that electing you will have a positive impact on them and the interests they care most about.

Remember, it’s not all about you. Learning to speak with the listener in mind is an art. Donors, voters and stakeholders want to know how your life experience, your ideas and your track record for getting things done will make an appreciable difference in their lives if you are elected.

The best candidates and elected officials want to influence, inspire and be change-makers.