Ask yourself: what would a straight white man do?
By: Kelsey Rhodes, San Diego Ambassador
This is a recap of our Negotiation Town Hall in San Diego on June 15, 2017 at Union Cowork. Thank you Erin Penwell, Ash & Arrow Photography, for all of the stunning photos. You can follow the LGP San Diego community on Facebook and Instagram.
We were thrilled to welcome a delightful group of ladies to our second town hall on a warm summer night in San Diego! Our conversation on negotiation was perfectly timed; many women in attendance were in the midst of a negotiation and were able to bounce ideas off of our intelligent, hysterical, badass panelists.
Six experts from the creative, tech, startup, and legal worlds came together to have an honest, intimate, thought-provoking discussion digging into what makes negotiation so hard and why we, as women, have to get better at it. We opened the night with free-word association. What is the first word that pops into your mind when you hear the word negotiation? Our panelists’ answers: “compromise,” “game,” “opportunity,” “real,” “oh god,” and “business.”
As we dove deeper, we had so many moments that we want to remember for the rest of our professional journeys. The common thread of the evening: always negotiate –– in a current job or for a new one. It is always worth aligning your position with your infinite value as a team member, professional, and boss lady.
Thanks to our panelists last night, we’re now more prepared than ever to head into a negotiation positive and confident.
- Start with the positive. The power of positive intent is absolutely necessary to harness when preparing to negotiate. Founder and CEO of Me Tyme Network, Remy Meraz, shared, “If you think it, you can create it. The opportunity will present itself.” If you head into a negotiation conversation telling yourself you’re going to fail or that you’re going to fold if they don’t accept your “number,” then you are setting yourself up for a major disappointment. Remy’s latest experience in the negotiation world is pitching her company to investors. As a woman who is proud of her independence, she shared her challenges working within the highly competitive male-dominated space. But instead of going down that rabbit hole, she uses self-affirmations to remind herself just how valuable, worthy, and talented she is.
- Write your job description. Looking for a promotion? Jessica Moon, Creative Director at Digital Telepathy, shared her secret to success: “Write down what you’re good at in the form of a job description. This will help your employer see just how much you’ve accomplished, where you’ve added value to the organization, and where you see yourself growing in the future.” She defined three important “musts” when negotiating: 1) knowing who you are within your professional day-to-day, 2) knowing who you are within the context of the company, and 3) where you and your organization fit within the greater context across industries. Jessica revealed that while often times women have difficulty championing their accomplishments, it’s a necessary component of business.
- Know what you want. While many might think negotiation is always directly related to money, Founder and CEO of Product Rebels, Vidya Dinamani, reminded us that’s not the case. In her experience, when she’s thought about what she really wants when going into the negotiation conversation, it’s time. Whether in the form of vacation or a four-day work week, Vidya got to a point in her life that time with her family was more valuable than a raise; she shared that you should “always ask for three things you want, and you will get two of them.” She reminded us that when you are making your case during the negotiation, define your worth in the tangible. Are you doing more than what you were hired to do? Did someone leave any you are taking on their responsibilities? Are you receiving unending praise for your incredible value-add to the team? Phrase your achievements as “my contribution to x achieved or earned us y.”
- Do your research. Taylor McWethy, founder of Pinwheel Creative, told us that you have to do your market research when trying to define the number you’re asking for… and you should NOT rely on Glassdoor. Taylor leans on her network of creatives to understand how much they’ve been paid for similar roles and responsibilities. The more proof points you have, the more likely you’ll get exactly what you want. And dream big; when spelling out what you want from the negotiation, make sure you include it all. “When you ask for A-to-Z, you might not get it all, but you might get A-P. You might even just get A-D. But that’s always better than just getting A.”
- Walk the walk. When it’s time to have the sit down meeting with your boss or HR team member, emulate the version of yourself that already got the promotion and raise. Veroneca Burgess, CEO of Judicial Review, taught us how important it is to be straight and direct with what you’re asking for and to “not be afraid to be called an aggressive bitch.” The companies that feel that way about you likely aren’t the ones you want to work for anyways. Veroneca’s best tip for success is to always try and get them to share their offer first before you give them your “number” or “range.” That way you can ask what their number is based on: Education? Experience? Then you can establish if it meets your needs. When you’re finally ready to lay down your ask, Veroneca suggested “Ask[ing] for what a straight white man would ask for.”
- It’s okay to fail. Leslie Fishlock, Founder and CEO of Geek Girl, said it best: “Failure is an iteration. You’re going to fail. You might many times. And that’s OK.” We always have the space to try, fail, and try again. If you don’t get what you want on the first try, always set up the follow up conversation. There are some tangible ways that you can increase your chances of success no matter when the conversation is happening. Leslie shared ways to use your body language to your advantage: make eye contact, lean into the conversation, and don’t hide your hands under the table. If you tent your fingers on the desk or keep your arms and hands in sight, you emulate power.
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