End of the Year Ninja

OK, Hot Shot.  You’ve been doing this negotiation thing for a while now and you’re feeling pretty darn good about it.

You know what your long term goals are and you know how each and every job you consider would help you work toward those goals.

You know what your BATNA is in every negotiation you have, and because you’re so good, you know your counterpart’s BATNA, too.

You’ve learned how to breathe and focus on your interests; you are calm, cool and in control.

Want to step up your game?

Then this next round of Ninja Tips is right up your alley:

Keep Track of Who You Work With
A freelancer’s best client is a return client.  You’ve gotten through the awkward first date experiences; you know if they stick to their timelines, who has to approve their decisions and how quickly they respond to an invoice.

Don’t you?

Well you do if you have some sort of means of recording your clients, your contacts at that particular client and your experiences working with them.

If you don’t, then you’ll just have to depend on your memory for future success.  Good luck.

The easiest way to keep track: a folder of Documents called “Clients” where each file is for a different client.  At minimum keep track of all that important information:

who the client is;

where to send invoices;

who your contacts at the organization are if there is more than one;

the work the client does; and

the work the client hires you to do.

To be a Ninja about it go a step further and keep track of each job you do for the client.  Identify what the project was, who you worked with, if they were a jerk, if you learned that the end of the quarter is a horrible time to call, that their mother’s birthday is September 11th, if they have an unhealthy obsession with Dwayne Wayne and if they also secretly love Bon Jovi.

Basically you write down all of that weird little information that you discover when working with someone.

And then, when they call you to see if you’re available for another job, you open that file and take notes about the next job right below the last one.

And you read about the last one, to remind yourself if having to work with Sally from HR is worth the extra $200 this month.

Share Who You Work With
If you are a freelancer and you are not talking to other freelancers about your work, I have a few choice questions for you:

  1. What’s wrong with you?
  2. Do you hate yourself?
  3. Do you hate other freelancers?

If your answers to 2 & 3 were “No,”  then, please, stop acting like a doofus.

One of the benefits of working a 9 to 5 Office-type job is that you work with a lot of other people who do the same thing you do.  When something comes up that you don’t know, you can just yell over the cubicle wall, “Hey!  Eric!  What’s that guy’s name in accounting?  You know, the one with the hair?” or “Hey, have we ever filed a 42 page TPS Report before?”

As a freelancer, you generally don’t have the built-in access to historical or corporate knowledge.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have access to it.  You just have to try a little harder to get it.

If you are having a horrible experience, do not “tough it out” by yourself and not talk about it.  If you have an awesome experience, don’t be a grinch and keep it to yourself.  Talk to other freelancers!  And better yet, make talking to your peers a normal part of your work day.

Aonther benefit of talking to peers about your experience is that you create better negotiating power for all of you.   If Ben tells you, “Last time I worked for XYZ they pushed back on my rush rate but ended up accepting it when I threatened to walk,” you have fantastic information for your next rush-rate negotiation with XYZ.

One person rejecting a crappy term is an anomaly; many people rejecting it is a negative impact to business.  Things that negatively impact business change.  Make them change.

I hope these end-of-the-year Ninja tips find you in good spirits & excited for the up coming year.  I’ve had a lot of fun spending 2009 talking about negotiation with you all and look forward to more of it in 2010 (perhaps even with a regular updating schedule!).

Thanks too to Rich Ellis who let me use his images in this post.  The crappy cropping job is all my fault; the kick ass art, his.

Categories: Negotiation Strategy


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2 responses to “End of the Year Ninja”

  1. Liz Argall says:

    Have I mentioned recently how much I love love love your blog 🙂 And thankyou for mentioning how valuable it is to share information with other freelancers. It’s so easy to be divided, conquered and have our prices spiral down and down.

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