Have you ever phoned a close friend, family member, business colleague or mentor and asked, “Hey, can I run something by you?” I know that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question because the answer is, of course you have!
The truth is that when you’re trying to achieve a particular outcome it can be helpful to get input from someone else. Often, they can help you think more clearly about what is at stake. Likewise, their distance from your situation can help you notice opportunities and potential pitfalls you might otherwise dismiss or overlook because you’re too close.
Whether your outreach results in one or several conversations, these discussions may: elicit ideas you previously had not considered; help you uncover new information and insight; and/or inspire you to do (or ask for) something you hadn’t thought to. This is the power of relationships and connections in full affect, and it is why I suggest that networking and social media can help you become a better negotiator.
Does this seem odd? Well, hear me out.
But let me be clear about two things:
- First, when I talk about networking, I am not referring to the “shaking hands at an event” sort of networking. Rather, I’m referring to your network of true connections – be it family, friends, colleagues, or mentors.
- Second, I am NOT suggesting you and your counter-party negotiate in public or that you publicly disclose the details of any of your negotiations.
Knowing that I was going to start this negotiation series (in my attempt to make April #negotiationawarenessmonth), I began to pay closer attention to how I handle my own negotiations. With eleven speaking engagements under my belt thus far, this year, I’ve had lots of practice!
Two of them, in particular, stand out because I did what I am suggesting to you: I reached out to a few of my close friends and business advisors for guidance. Their input was invaluable. In one instance, they helped me navigate what was new terrain with aplomb; in another, they helped me craft a very creative response to a bottleneck regarding the prospect’s budget and my fee.
Never a single voice
How about you? What happened the last time you reached out to your thought partner/s to think out loud — aka to brainstorm?
Did they help you get out of your head and, in the process, expand your vision of what to ask for or what’s possible?
Did the conversation prompt you to do more research – maybe even around what others in similar circumstances are doing?
Did it inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and perhaps face your imposter complex?
Questions like these provide focus when you tap into your network precisely because:
- You get to hear yourself think out loud.
- You get an external opinion.
- You might also get to role play and practice your points and counter-points.
But here’s the thing you need to keep in mind; your counter-party is doing the same!
As such, it is important to remember that, with almost any negotiation, it is never just between and about the people at the table or on the phone.
In fact, I often remind myself (and friends and clients) that (a) you’re rarely, if ever, in the room when the decision about you and what is being negotiated is being made, and (b) the negotiation talks may take place between, for example, the two people at the table or on the phone, but others are weighing in. The latter reminds me of a common analogy used in therapy circles. You know the one that says when two people get in bed, the bed is crowded with their past relationships?!
Just as I believe this is true in personal matters, so it is with professional/business matters, too.
Sometimes, the “others in the room” are specific people you (or they) have intentionally sought out for input and perhaps guidance. At other times, they typify an abstract based on a collage of people from prior and similar negotiations. However these “others” show up remember that they represent your network and they can have an impact.
Your job is make certain that that impact is positive.
Someone is checking you out
No doubt technology and social media make it easier to connect and engage with the right people, at the right time – without regard to geography. That’s both good and bad.
You are quite familiar with the bad, e.g., it can be a time-suck and a huge source of distraction.
The good, however, is that you can use email and social media to shape your image and reputation, and influence others with your knowledge and thought process.
My suggestion: Presume you’re going to be checked out.
Therefore, it is wise to be relentless about managing your social media profile to ensure what you post/email is not blocking you from the opportunities you most want.
It’s also good because you can use it to do research on prospects, clients and possibly “competitors,” which may provide you with information you can leverage during your negotiations. Regarding the same two speaking engagements referenced above, spending time on their websites and social media streams didn’t impact the details of the agreement. But it did help me use language in my proposal that I was certain would resonate with them.
Your network (in real life) and on social media is about making connections and building relationships. And while it may seem unusual to use these as tools for negotiation, the truth is that more often than not, these connections and relationships tend to not only be the source of what you end up negotiating, but they can also help you be the best negotiator you can be.
Until I started writing this series, I had not given much thought to the many dynamic layers of negotiating: The first being a recognition that negotiating is really an exercise in self-discovery as you toggle between reality and possibility; the second requires you have clarity about the real goal you and your counter-party are looking to achieve; and the third asks you to remember that you already possess the skills to negotiate — well.
Here’s another layer and one more thing I want you to remember:
Every time you negotiate, you’re making a choice.
Sounds too obvious? Not really when you realize the multitude of choices you make throughout the negotiation process. So, what are you willing to do to make the best choices possible and to have the best outcome possible for everyone involved and affected? Unlike the rhetorical question I asked at the beginning, this one isn’t. Complete the contact form to let me know.