We Are All Ninjas

The more I talk to people about negotiation and what it is, the more I realize how many things can influence a deal. From the first hellos to things that happened long before you laid eyes one another, negotiation isn’t so much about the deal at hand, but about what happens when the experiences, values and beliefs of the two people interact.

Because I am a negotiation nerd, my brain immediately skips to thinking about how much easier that makes negotiating (because you have so many opportunities to influence what happens).  But I know that for a lot of people having more variables makes things harder, not easier (because there are that many more opportunities to screw up).

So here’s a little series I’m going to call “Ninja Tips” (at least, that’s what I’m going to call it until someone gives me a better name; see comments, below).  It will be a collection of easily identifiable things you can do to improve your negotiation situations and, more importantly, how best to use them.  No Fear, etc., etc.

1.  Your professional portfolio does not live at http://www.huzzah-homies.net/members/jjpoppinfresh/index/artnstuff.html

Not if you want anyone to take you seriously, it doesn’t.  Not if you want to make a decent hourly rate, it doesn’t.

High school kids store their art in such internet dungeons; you do not.

Using it:  Having your professional portfolio in an easily accessible, easy to remember URL does a couple of things

  • it argues your price for you.  People pay for things that look expensive, and, more importantly, they don’t pay for things that don’t look expensive.  Look expensive.
  • it makes it easier for others to refer you. Word of mouth sells better than anything else.  Period.  So make it easy for others to sell you.
  • it establishes you as a professional artist. Professionals care about how others perceive them.  They care because it gets them jobs.  Even if you have never, ever, ever had a paying professional freelance job, act professionally.

(Having stuff at places like Diviantart, MySpace or FanFiction.net is totally fine, by the way, and serves other purposes.  It’s just not where you put your official, professional portfolio of work.)

2.  Understand how you use your internet presence and then be consistent.

Some folks like using all of their internet personas (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) for self promotion; others prefer to use one or two areas for self promotion and save the rest for personal interactions.  Either way is fine, but you have to be consistent.  And you have to be smart.

Using it: If you want to use a public on-line space like  MySpace or Twitter to complain, lock it down.  Before you complain. Do not allow clients or potential clients to see you bitch.  Bitching about clients is like bitching about exes — don’t do it publicly.  At the same time, do not designate a persona as one you use for promotion and then ignore it.  If Facebook is where you advertise, update it regularly.  Even if you aren’t going to send me horses for My Farm (jerk).

3.  Talk about things you like.

This might seem like stupid advice, but think about it for a second.  Let’s pretend you had to hire a caterer for a big party.  You have two equally competent and affordable choices.  Are you more inclined to hire the person that talked to you about Star Trek or the person that talked to you about Dancing With the Stars?  Answer: you’re more inclined to hire the person that reminds you of you.  Because you are a human being with human decision making biases.

Using it: Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  The more that someone has to relate to you about, the more you will be able to build common ground and a common vocabulary to use when negotiating.  If you know you and your client share an interest, use it when you are having a tough time communicating.  “You know this is just like the time that Picard and Riker….”

Go, Ninjas; Go!

Categories: Negotiation Strategy

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