Learn the do’s and don’ts of how to negotiate a job offer and why negotiation is crucial for Independents.
Negotiating is a skill that's useful in all aspects of life: landing that dream job, buying a car, renting an apartment, enhancing personal relationships — the list goes on and on. But if you aren’t a natural-born charmer, negotiating can seem tricky, especially when you’re just starting out as a freelancer.
If you’re feeling in need of some guidance, this one’s for you. Here we’ll share the do’s and don’ts of negotiating, why negotiation is crucial for Independents, and how to negotiate salary offers like a pro.
Why is knowing how to negotiate so important? 🗣️
Negotiating is often thought of as a talent that’s reserved for the confident and assertive. Spoiler alert: It’s not. In fact, it’s easier than you might think.
But first things first: Negotiating isn’t about simply getting what you want. It’s about finding a win-win solution that satisfies everyone involved, allowing you to advocate for yourself and assert your needs while still considering the needs of others. Knowing how to effectively negotiate isn’t just about resolving conflicts. It also builds trust and creates long-lasting relationships, be it between clients and Independents or family and friends.
6 tips for successful negotiating 🌟
Whether you realize it or not, you rely on negotiation skills every day, like when figuring out who’s getting the last piece of pizza, who’s washing the dishes after dinner, or who’s choosing what to watch on TV. Sound familiar? If so, you probably already know that negotiating, while sometimes exciting or a bit intense, doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking or something to shy away from.
Professionally speaking, mastering basic negotiation strategies will help boost your confidence as an Independent, which is extremely helpful when discussing the details of a contract or project specs with potential clients.
Here are six tips to help you become a better negotiator:
1. Be a good listener 👂
The best negotiators try to understand where other parties are coming from. Active listening is essential for successful negotiation. Pay attention to others’ wants, needs, concerns, and questions to better understand their perspective and find common ground.
2. Be prepared 🎒
Prepare for negotiations by researching the other party’s position and gathering information to support your own arguments. Keeping your goals in mind and knowing how much you’re willing to compromise helps you stay focused as the conversation progresses.
3. Set the tone of the conversation to match your objectives 🎶
When talks commence, set a positive and respectful tone for the conversation. A good negotiator uses clear, concise language and always aims to collaborate. Use the tone of the conversation as an anchor in case deliberations begin to go downhill.
4. Take breaks when needed 🛌
Negotiating can sometimes feel overwhelming or draining. If the conversation becomes stressful or hectic, avoid making rash decisions by putting things on pause. Taking a step back is also a great way to regroup and refocus on your goal.
5. Aim for a win-win solution 🫂
Remember, negotiation isn’t about winning at the other’s expense. Great negotiators always aim for a solution that benefits both sides. Successful negotiation requires preparation, communication, and flexibility. Remember to stay calm and focused; this will help set you on the path toward a win-win outcome for both sides.
6. Accept that some deals won’t work 🚧
Not every discussion leads to a great deal that satisfies everyone involved. When you enter a negotiation, be prepared to walk away if you can’t settle on an agreement that meets your needs.
5 things to avoid when negotiating 🚫
Let’s face it: Negotiating can also be challenging. Here are some pitfalls to avoid to help boost your chances of a favorable outcome:
1. Don’t get overly emotional 🤬
Always act professionally — getting defensive and upset will most likely hurt your case and could shut down negotiations entirely.
2. Don’t take things personally 🤕
Understand that everyone at the negotiating table is simply trying to secure a favorable outcome; taking things to heart may cloud your judgment.
3. Don’t make assumptions 🔮
Assuming you know the other’s wants or needs can lead to misunderstandings.
4. Don’t settle for a lousy deal 💩
Or, in other words, know your worth. Depending on the circumstances, accepting a deal that undercuts your value may seem tempting. If the deal isn’t what you set out for, it’s often best to walk away. No deal is better than a bad deal.
5. Don’t overreach 🐂
Be careful negotiating when you have the upper hand, as going too far can wind up damaging relationships in the long run. Effective negotiators know to always think about the big picture and they consider the potential long-term consequences of the situation.
How to negotiate contracts and job offers 🔏
Negotiating a freelance contract or job offer can be intimidating, but it’s worth the effort. Here are a few tips to help you secure fair compensation for your work.
Ask questions 🤔
Asking questions makes negotiating feel more conversational. Ensure you clearly understand the terms and conditions of the contract or job offer, including the compensation. Aim for open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
Do your research 📚
Research industry standards for compensation and contract terms before entering negotiations. This will help you understand what’s reasonable (and what isn’t).
Set clear goals 🥅
Know what you want, and go for it! Successful negotiation requires a clear idea objective, so establish your goals ahead of time and be prepared to articulate them.
Be willing to compromise ⚖️
Compromise has a time and place in negotiations, as it can help you find a mutually beneficial solution. Be willing to meet halfway on certain things, but don’t lose sight of your values or priorities. Be open to counteroffers but never settle for less than you’re worth.
Don't accept too quickly 🏎️
Employers and clients frequently offer lower compensation during the first round of negotiations. Don’t accept right away — instead, ask for what you believe is justified based on your skill level, experience, market value, and current industry standards.
This advice still applies if you’re wondering how to negotiate with contractors. Negotiation tactics are similar whether you're hiring an Independent or working as one.
How is negotiation helpful for Independents? 🦵⬆️
If you’re an Independent, you’re essentially running your own business. Whether you’re a copywriter, web designer, or something else entirely, negotiation is a critical skill for any successful business owner.
Independents often deal with different types of clients. These clients have different needs, expectations, and budgets, and you must understand each one’s position to ensure your work is valued correctly. Negotiation allows you to set clear expectations, avoid misunderstandings, and build strong relationships. It also allows you to showcase your expertise and justify your rates, ensuring you’re fairly compensated for the time and effort spent.
Find your next opportunity with Contra 🔍
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to negotiate freelance rates, it’s time to put those new negotiation skills to the test! Contra’s all-in-one platform connects Independents to flexible, remote work opportunities, allowing you to grow your business while maintaining your freedom. Our freelancer-driven interface features built-in contracts to streamline your workflow, keeping all your projects in one place. Plus, we’re commission-free — you did all the work, so you keep all the money. Every time.
Our blog — The Contrarian — is full of valuable advice for Independents, with guides on essential topics, such as setting rates, communicating with clients, invoicing, work-from-home equipment, and more. Whether you’re just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur, you’re sure to find helpful articles to help drive your career.