Negotiation is used all the time in our lives. We negotiate in all of our relationships–with our friends, kids, and family members—and yet, for some reason, when it comes to negotiating in our careers, we women seem to get overwhelmed by the process (myself included). But our careers are the exact place we need to negotiate. Why? Because we need to earn more money! Women, on average, still earn less than men—in fact, women earn $.78 to every $1 made by a man.* I truly believe that the main reason women earn less than men is because we simply don’t ask for more. And whatever our reasons for not doing this are, the key point is that we need to all get better at consistently asking for more in our careers.
Whether it’s negotiating your benefits package for a new job, asking for a raise, selling a business, buying a business, or simply working with a vendor, I’ve listed five simple ways to help you embrace your own negotiation power and ask for what you deserve in your career.
Create Your Silver Platter
You cannot just walk into your boss’s office and ask for more money. You have to show him or her why you deserve it. Make a list of all the benefits you bring to the company. If you are in business, make a list of all the benefits clients receive from working with you. Add everything you can think of to your silver platter–the amount of business revenue you currently bring or will bring the company, the quality of your work, the positive energy you bring to the office, etc. Women tend to underplay our value in the workplace big time, but this is your time to brag, so don’t forget anything. You want to be able to clearly articulate why you deserve more money.
Get Super Clear About What You’re Asking For
Create a list of your must-haves and a list of terms you would be flexible with. And once you have your list of must-haves, make sure you ask for something above and beyond it. For example, let’s say you’re negotiating a new job’s salary, and your must-have is another $5,000 over the salary you’re being offered. When you go in to negotiate, ask for $10,000 more. That way, you’ll begin the negotiation process at a higher amount, knowing you’re willing to take anything at $5,000 or above.
Create a Plan of Attack
When you’re asking for a raise, higher fees or a higher starting salary, create a plan of attack. Know as many details as possible—who will be involved in the discussion, when it will take place, what you’re asking for, and why you’re asking for it. The “why” part is often overlooked, but it’s especially important. When you know the why—i.e., “I’m worth this amount based on my experience and knowledge,” or “I need that much more to reach my financial goals for the year”–you’ll feel more confident asking for what you want. Also, make sure you do your research to see what competitive salaries or prices are in your location and industry. The more you plan, the better equipped you will be for the negotiation process.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to get better at something is to practice, and this goes for negotiation, as well. The more you practice, the easier it will become. I suggest you practice asking for things in your everyday life first; then, when you’re ready to ask for a raise, higher fees, etc., practice those negotiation conversations with a friend who can role-play the situation with you and give you honest feedback. And make sure you’re open to receiving constructive criticism and willing to work on improving any areas of weakness.
Go in Like a Badass
On the day of the negotiation, do whatever you need to do to feel your best. For me, that means working out, dancing, reading my list of achievements to give me that added burst of confidence seeing what I’ve already accomplished, and talking to the people in my life who are my biggest cheerleaders. Remember: It’s normal to be nervous, but you also want to make sure you feel your most confident on the day of the negotiation. Then go in, do your best, and let the rest work itself out from there.
Have you negotiated for something recently in your job or business? Leave a comment below and tell us what it was, the outcome and any other tips you may have for women looking to strengthen their negotiation skills. We love hearing from you, so don’t be shy!
* U.S Census Bureau, Facts for Features: Women’s History Month, January 2, 2008.