By Elizabeth Roberts
My performance review is three months away and I’m already nervous. I often hear that “Women should ask for more money” — but how much more money? What’s the balancing act with asking for other perks like working remotely, PTO, and growth opportunities both internal (becoming a project lead) and external (industry conferences)? Sometimes ambition needs help being translated into manageable chunks – and Six Degrees Society’s “Your Worth Is Worth Negotiating Panel” presented by LUNA Bar on Oct. 23 gave me the confidence to do just that.
SDS founder Emily Merrell moderated a powerhouse panel of women entrepreneurs and negotiation queens: Alexandra Dickinson (SoFi), Jodie Fox (Shoes of Prey), Beatrice Feliu-Espada (The Honey Pot Company) and Robin Sokoloff (Town Stages). These women all have entrepreneurial backgrounds, with corporate background mixed in, so they’re used to the game of risk.
Too often in negotiation, we’re taught that there’s a “winner” and a “loser”. But a positive negotiation conversation means both parties (you and your boss, you and a prospective manager, etc.) feel you both gained something. At the event, our sponsor LUNA Bar helped us find our negotiation style while nourishing us with their new flavors, Sea Salt Caramel and Creamy Dreamy Peanut Butter. While money on the mind is a great goal, it’s not the only positive outcome. “Having built a company from my couch, I could only offer a certain salary and not a dollar more – but I thought about my employees’ quality of life that would make them value this job more (more flexible schedule, etc.),” Jodie said. Before your performance review or job offer, brainstorm non-monetary benefits you want most from the role. Is it time, wellness, professional development, flexibility, autonomy?
Alexandra says that while negotiation can be scary, think of it as more of a conversation. “It’s creative problem solving – both people want a certain outcome so work to find something that can work for both. But don’t be afraid to walk away. If you have a backup option, that gives you more freedom to say, ‘I would love to work with you, but this doesn’t match my budget.’ See what they come back with and pick the best offer.”
Beatrice is the 36th African-American woman to raise more than $1 million in venture capital. How did she do it? Beatrice says it’s all about knowing the quality of your work. “My [Honey Pot Co.] products are twice the price of what’s on the market but that means I only need to sell one item when others need to sell two. My products are expensive, but that shit is expensive for me to make! Understand where you can go.”
Resiliency was key for Robin. She heard “no” close to 300 times before she was able to sign a lease for Town Stages. She refused to believe “no” would be the final answer– this was her dream and she needed it to survive. Robin said she’s most proud that her company is led by women. Unconventionally, she let her employees decide their compensation structure. Instead of individual commissions, they chose to work as a team.
Six Degrees Society spoke with one of its new members, Krista Bobrowski, about how she hasn’t negotiated for herself yet at work – but this event encouraged her to take a chance with a recruiter.
SDS: What do you do and how long have you been involved with Six Degrees Society?
KRISTA BOBROWSKI: I work at CNN as a production assistant full-time and produce, co-host and edit my podcast, Experience ADITL (A Day In The Life). My first SDS event ever was the “Ask For It” salary negotiation event with Alexandra Dickinson earlier this year! I’m now a SDS member and looking to upgrade to “The Mayor” membership.
SDS: When’s the first time you negotiated for yourself? How did you feel afterwards?
KB: I’ve quite literally never negotiated for myself. I graduated in May of 2017 and when offered my first job, the salary was way higher than I expected and researched, so I took it with no questions asked.
SDS: What’s the most important skill to bring into a negotiation? Our panelists’ answers varied: Alexandra Dickinson (SoFi) relies on research, Jodie Fox (Shoes of Prey) advocates active listening, Beatrice Feliu-Espada (The Honey Pot Company) prioritizes knowing your worth and Robin Sokoloff (Town Stages) recommends backing away from the idea that there’s only one good outcome. Do you relate to any of these negotiation skills or have a different one you rely on?
KB: I relate with all of these negotiation skills, but only after attending this event. Before the event, I would have only chosen active listening and research. The reason I didn’t relate to knowing my worth and backing away as negotiation skills is because of my age and lack of experience paired with the notion that starting out in any career, you don’t want to seem ungrateful for the opportunity by negotiating or questioning anything. My thought process was, “I need a job ASAP before my student loan payments kick in!”
What opened my eyes to how ridiculous my thought process was happened when one of the panelists mentioned the story of a boss looking at a candidate differently for not fighting for a better salary or benefits. I now wonder if the fact that I was so quick to say yes at my first job put me in a disadvantage before I even started the job. Oh well! Now that I have over a year under my belt, the skills for the next step and the tools and confidence to fight for myself, I’m actively looking for a new position on a new team using all four negotiation skills!
SDS: Our sponsor LUNA Bar had a quiz on-site to help attendees identify their negotiation style, along with their other #equalisequal resources. How has your negotiation style helped you succeed in the past, or how can you use it to support that next milestone?
KB: Based off the quiz, LUNA Bar said I’m a “mix-master” with strengths in collaboration and networking. I haven’t used it too much yet since I haven’t been on many job interviews. However, I will use my “mix-master” skills to find common ground with the people I’m interviewing with.
SDS: Did this event give you any ideas for how to negotiate for yourself at work?
KB: I did have a phone call the day after the event with a recruiter. This call was to touch base before I hear back on if I made the final round of interviews. This call was definitely going to be about salary and based on my research, I threw out the anchor first! I threw out a number $2K higher than my target salary so I could negotiate a salary closer to that number. She told me the budget was negotiable within a ten-grand window. Since I put out the number first, I’m making it a point to accept only if it’s on the higher side of the team’s budget for the position—if I get past the third round and offered the position, of course! Thanks so much for the tips! Fingers crossed it works out.