I’m not running yet, but I’m thinking about it: What can I do?

For a variety of reasons, local elections around the country happen at all different times of year.

While most take place in November, cities, towns, villages and school boards hold their elections in March, May or August sometimes in different states and regions. Which means that the first thing you need to know when you’re thinking about running for local office is perhaps the most basic – when’s the election?

The country is caught up in presidential politics right now, but if you’re thinking of running locally in 2017, it’s definitely not too early to start building a foundation for your campaign – even if you haven’t committed to anything yet. Here are some activities you can be doing right now:

Informal Polling: If you’re thinking of running for office, we’re assuming you have some kind of stake in your community, and probably already know some people. Engage those people now in informal conversations about your community’s issues and get feedback. You’ll start to get a sense of how your own stances on issues align with your community’s. Important note: get outside of your family and close circle of friends.

Walk a Business District: While it’s probably not time before announcing as a candidate to take on door-to-door canvassing, there’s nothing weird about taking a day to walk through your community’s business district, stopping in shops and restaurants and saying hi to people. You want the flavor of your community? The business district is where you’ll get it. And those relationships will be invaluable once you actually do kick off your campaign.

Be Seen: You can be certain there are a slew of holiday season events happening in your community. Take the time to not only attend, but to volunteer your help. Think about where else in town people congregate, and be there. Church events (and church, in general), local football games, farmer’s markets – you know your community better than we do. There are plenty of gatherings to attend. And don’t forget your local political committee, whose support you’ll need to get on the ballot. Watch for monthly roundtables, fundraisers and other activities.

Finally, I encourage you to download our free “Pros and Cons” survey – a self-guided analysis of your own appetite for running. The Campaign Coach knows what a leap it is to decide to jump into political waters, and we hope to help you make it a well-informed decision. http://thecampaigncoach.com/proscons/