Why is always it nerve-wracking to ask for a raise, put your hand up for a promotion, go on an important job interview, or ask someone to take a leap of faith on you? It’s likely not because you lack confidence in your own credibility. But rather because it’s a form of sales, and many of us are quick to say that we’re not “sales people”. I’m not a sales person. But selling can be a great thing, when you truly believe in what it is you’re selling, and the value it can bring to whomever you’re offering it to.
We talk often about personal branding. The idea behind it being that you have a significant amount of value as a professional in the form of your skills, talent, experience, knowledge, and resources, and your personal brand is the clever way in which you package all that up and market it to a particular audience. That is what you’re doing in any of these scenarios – communicating your value. It’s imperative to do so, confidently and clearly, and in a highly-relevant way that speaks to the interests and needs of your audience, whether you’re negotiating a salary increase, asking for more responsibility, or consideration for a position outside of your direct experience.
Here are 4 ways to draw on your experience and skills to give you a little more negotiation power, and help you better communicate and illustrate your value:
Highlight Your Ability to Successfully Manage Change & Transition
If you want to convince your boss or a hiring manager to take a chance on you, show them examples of how you’ve navigated change successfully in the past. Ease their concern around your ability to come up to speed quickly enough by giving examples of times when you’ve taken on additional projects or responsibilities, stepped into a new role, or learned a new skill or expertise on your own. If you changed industries or made a transition into a new type of work environment, use that as a conversation point. Referencing freelance or entrepreneurial experience is a great example as well.
Talk About Projects You’ve Done that Speak to Your Unique Skill or Personal Attributes
If one of the assets you bring to the table is your whiz-like ability to pick up new software, talk about projects that you tackled within your role where that learning capability played a big part in your success. Or perhaps you are the only person in your department with stellar Photoshop skills, or a solid grasp of QuickBooks. Ask for the opportunity to be the person who handles those functions.
Forecast Where You See Yourself Going Next
Think about the things you’ve accomplished and learned leading up to this point in your career. What skills and experience are involved in reaching those milestones? If you stretched those same skills even further, what else could you see yourself accomplishing or contributing? If you’ve made great career strides as a salesperson because you’re excellent in front of clients, how can you stretch those talents even further? Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at training junior sales staff on relationship building techniques.
Determine Where You Fit In, & Make the Case for It
Identify an opportunity within the organization, determine what you can bring to it, and what your success there will look like. Are there areas where your colleagues are overloaded and productivity is suffering? A task where a specialist would be better suited to focus just on that area? An opportunity to expand the business into a new customer segment that you can speak to? A way to improve efficiency, workflow, or day to day processes in some manner? Nail down what that is, determine how you can contribute, and then sell your solution to the person overseeing those functions. What will your success in that role look like, for you and the company? “Taking on more managerial responsibility will allow me to make sure all of our department deadlines are being hit, and reduce some of the issues we’re experiencing with the vendors.”
The key here is to really know what concerns, challenges or interests are on the mind of the person to whom you want to appeal. If you’re asking for a raise, your manager will need information that helps her justify that request to HR. A promotion works the same way. And trying to break into a new career field poses the potential challenge of a candidate coming up to speed quickly enough to handle a growing workload, and often times with little hand-holding or training. Identify what keeps your audience up at night, determine what you can offer as a solution, and call upon specific examples to illustrate your position.
Illustration by Marc Wathieu on Flickr