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Negotiate Successfully: Prepare with these Six Steps |

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To be successful in negotiation, it's best to walk in prepared, you can work on the fly in minor negotiations, but preparation gives you the information and confidence to think on your feet and to tap your creativity and to be at ease during your conversation. And to do that, you're going to need to work through several steps. I have identified six steps to setting the stage for a successful negotiation. While our example will primarily be focused on salary and career negotiations, the same or similar steps apply to buying a car or any major purchase or solving a problem with a neighbor or a friend or networking and creating business partnerships.

Step 1--and by far the most important--is research, so do not skip it and think you can rely on your wit and charm and wing it. Find out what you're worth. Do a little digging into the value of your services in the hands of your market. Sites like or and, as well as government sites, provide salary data based on the job title, education, time on the job, and geographic region. Once you've satisfied your curiosity, determine what your bottom line is and what you'll do if your bottom line is not met.

This is known as your BATNA, or the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. I also call this your resentment insurance number. So ask yourself: "What is the least you will accept and still be happy?" Now make a list of all the skills you've mastered and the results you produce that correspond to your upcoming negotiation. Be prepared to sing your own praises. Step 2 is to prioritize all the moving parts of your negotiation, and this means you're going to be making another list.

For job seekers, those moving parts are not only salary and bonuses, but also things like vacation time, health benefits, telecommuting, or flextime options. In step 3, map out the concessions you're willing to make. For anything you give up, you're going to be asking for something in exchange, reciprocity, if you don't, you lay the ground for becoming a doormat, and that is definitely a losing career strategy. So, would you prefer a higher starting salary in exchange for lower bonus? Would you be willing to exchange some vacation days if you were offered, say, more flextime? The fourth step involves learning as much as you can about your bargaining partners needs.

Google your potential employer, client or partner and investigate the company's website and social media presence, they're doing the same to find out about you. So, what do they say about themselves? What do others say about them? Your investigation also requires learning what your bargaining partner wants to accomplish, then prepare to talk about how your skills, results, and accomplishments can help them reach their goals. Step 5 is to determine your common connections inside and outside the organization.

Negotiation fundamentals:

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