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The negotiation topic is a sensitive one, especially for women. We often ask ourselves, “Am I being too aggressive?”

The short answer is “No, not by a long shot.” The more I read about women being scared to ask for more money, the more I wanted to break out of it!

With the reality of my student loan debt, financial goals and my 30th birthday, I decided that it was time to stop selling myself short and get the checks that reflect my expertise.

I read Think and Grow Rich (again), did hours of research and recently attended a Spark negotiations workshop for freelancers put on by Freelancers Union.

Armed with new knowledge and a new financial gains-oriented mindset, I decided to put it to the test! Here are the principles that I applied to my new approach:

1. Make the conversation about value

Don’t talk rates; talk value. What is your value to yourself and what is your value to the client or employer?

Ask yourself:

  • How much time will you save them?
  • How much easier or better will you make their lives or product?
  • Will you save or make them money?

Determine your services in dollar value and sell it in a way that highlights that your greatness, not your rates.

Discussing value over rate makes it difficult for an employer or client to sell you short.

2. Drop the I’m SO Lucky syndrome

Often, we (minorities, especially) feel so lucky to just be in the room, we forgo our worth because, basically, we don’t feel worthy.

Remember: You were chosen for a reason and everyone else in that room is negotiating.

Once you decide your value, stick to it! I can’t count the number of times I pumped up myself up to ask for a big number, but on my way to the meeting, the number slowly decreased.

You're not always going to get what you want, but you HAVE to tell the universe what you want, in order for the possibility to even be there.

… And while you’re telling yourself and the universe, don’t forget to tell your future boss or client.

3. Always negotiate

By this, I mean never accept the first offer - even if it’s a good one.

It’s important to be mindful in how you do this. In one interview, I was offered a rate that was satisfactory to me. Because I had just done all that research on negotiations, I decided to ask for more.

And you know what? I got more.

When you do ask, tread lightly, be nice and let’s be honest, you may have to stroke an ego.

The power of a well-written e-mail can heavily impact your financial value, so ask for help if that is not your expertise.

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4. Never make the first offer

No long explanation needed here. Maybe they will offer you what you want, and then you can ask for even more! Hello financial success!

5. Shut up and listen

I know you’ve pumped yourself up and are ready to shark tank it in your next meeting, but, simmer down and LISTEN.

The less talking you do, the more likely it is you can find out information to use in your favor. This will not sabotage establishing your value.

Once the employer or client has disclosed all their needs, you can repeat their desires back to them, which helps your case in establishing your value.

Key takeaway: Translate your value into their language!

* 6. Nothing is FREE*

I’m notorious for donating my time and services.

I love what I do and would do it for no money, if I could. But, offering discounts and free services is not necessary.

There will be times when you want to secure a client and think this will do it, but don’t go down that road unless you have to.

Once you start this trend, it’s hard to get up to your desired rate. If you want to give someone a gift, make it a loved one- not a client or employer.

7. Don't act like a rookie

Know the language. Talk the talk. You have to understand salaries, rates, retainer fees, taxes, and benefits etc...

Be able to articulate those needs and wants or you will get taken advantage of in the process.

8. Research

Do you know what other people who do what you do are making? Check out sites like salary.com and glassdoor.com, talk to your peers and trusted colleagues, as well.

You have to know this information and quote accurate rates. Something I recently learned is that if you make a weekly/daily rate and not a salary you should ask for 30-40% more than an annual salary broken down.

Freelance rates are higher because the jobs are short-term and don’t offer benefits. So don't be afraid of that higher weekly rate if you’re not seeking or offered a salary.

9. Be REAL

If you are changing careers, learning something new or looking for new experiences, some of this information does not apply and you may have to take a pay cut.

Weigh everything (lifestyle, expenses, insurance, needs & wants) write it out and pray/meditate (whatever you do) about it, but always have a plan and set goals <--- not in your head but, in a document/spreadsheet.

* 10. Be so DOPE that they need you*

You're dope, I’m dope- we’re all dope. I get it.

But you’ve got to do more than embody dopeness. You have to BE dopeness.

In one of the interviews I had, I was offered three different positions by the end of the conversation.

They were willing to offer me more money, a better position, and more flexability because they recognize my… you guessed it: VALUE!

So go, be dope and great and make lots of money because you know your value!

Kimberly Renee Selden is a Television Producer whose credits include: Oprah Behind the Scenes, Food Networks’ “Next Food Star”, The Victoria Secret Fashion Show, MTV’s Video Music Awards, NBA All Star, and many more. After realizing the power and impact of media, Kimberly embarked on a quest to properly train newcomers in the industry through her organization, The Global Media Project.