The Secret Negotiation Power of a strong Network – And how to get started if you hate Networking

Negotiation & Networking – Why?

“Your network is your net worth” they say.

As a negotiator, I see network building as part of my ongoing negotiation pre-work. Every negotiation starts LONG before you enter it, and your personal network and personal brand are pure bargaining power.

Let me explain: The reasons we are often having trouble to hold firm when negotiating your fees or salary is because we don’t having a strong network or strong personal brand – i.e. no strong walkaway point with lots of other opportunities knocking on our door (what negotiators call a “BATNA” – Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement).

The network that you build, my friend, is negotiation power. In other words: You will be confident to charge what you are worth because you are not coming from a mindset of scarcity where you must convert any client because you don’t know when the next one walks into the door. Rather, having a powerful network and personal brand gives you the confidence to know that if this opportunity doesn’t work out, another one will soon come your way. So you have no issue holding firm at charging for the value you add. BATNA 101!

The stronger your Network, the stronger your Bargaining Power.

TLDR: Network = Bargaining Power

Thus, networking is this month’s topic on Negotiation Nuggets!

“I hate Networking.”

9 out of 10 people will agree with that statement when I ask in my workshops. People hate the notion of networking. Or mostly the way most of us think about networking;

  • It’s awkward, what should I even talk about?
  • It feels sleazy and transactional.
  • Why would this (senior) person even be interested in me?

In our brains, networking has squarely placed itself as this utilitarian, self-focused exercise we have to do because someone told us so.

Reframing is key!

Less than 10% of hands in any given room go up when I ask “Do you like networking?“.

But here is the twist: That percentage increases to over 60-80% when I ask “Do you like to meet people?“.

Ha, interesting!

You might have heard people telling you “Networking is just about making friends.” And they would have been right! In fact, here are five powerful mantras I want you to print and take with you anywhere you go. Believe in these firmly and I promise you will be a new person when you go to networking events, enjoying the people you meet, creating real value and establishing true friendships that serve you as a network for life (and you them!)

Your 5 New Networking Mantras

Mantra 1: “I don‘t want anything from you.”

The reasons networking feels sleazy, transactional and awkward is because we feel like we need to go out and use networking as a way to sell ourselves or our services. STOP that in its tracks! You are not out there to sell anything. Except maybe yourself as an intriguing person to hang out with!

As lawyers, we don’t sell products. In the professional services industry, people buy people. So, all you need to do is be an interesting person who shows they care. You don’t need or want to sell anything!

Mantra 2: “I want to help YOU succeed.”

Not only do you not want anything from them, but you are first and foremost out there to help others succeed. This is counterintuitive at first. Like telling a soccer player to pass the ball to the other team. But hear me out. The best networkers are basically going around doing favours all day long. When I asked a friend of mine who is in charge of expanding the business of a large regional law firm to APAC and the Middle East how he does it, he replied “I am basically going around doing favours and making people happy all day. Recommendation for the best cold cuts in Singapore? Here you go. Best paediatric allergist? Number sent. Need an internship for your son? Let me send an Email. French cheese importer in Saudi? Let me link you up!

Another example that you might find slightly crazy: I am currently working with a large US law firm who is looking for negotiation training in APAC. They like my proposal, but L&D wants to offer their teams multiple trainers as options (having options is always good!). When they came back to me and confided “We haven’t found any other providers who do what you do” I went on to help them research some alternative provides, aka my competitors (!!), offering to help them screen for the best match. What matters to me is that they find their best match. If they are happy, I am happy. And I am memorable. Networking is a game in the long run. First, you need to cultivate relationships that are based on mutual support. And drop the scarcity mindset!


“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar


Mantra 3: “I am an interesting, interested person.”

When we are young, we often struggle to see why other people might be interested in us. We are quick to believe that people are only interested in other people of the same status.

I was lucky to learn the very opposite very early on. When I was a young student in law school, I helped organize a conference for European Union law. One of the participants was the back then President of the European Court of Justice, Vassilios Skouris. The Dean of my university made sure that President Skouris was constantly paraded in the spotlight. But Vassilios wasn’t that kind of person. I think he secretly hated it. At the final gala dinner, he came to sit next to me with us students at the back of the room. I panicked. What could I possibly say to this guy that he could find interesting? My fear was all wrong! We ended up chatting about his childhood in Greece, his children, and how he made his way from simple upbringings all the way to the ECJ. I learned a lot that day!

When you are young, you give passion. As you get older, you give expertise. That is enough!

Mantra 4: “You are an interesting person.”

Likewise, we need to search for the interesting things that could connect us to the other person. In my business development & brand building workshops, I do an exercise that invites people to write down their unique hobbies and strength. Then they share it with their neighbour. Something incredible happens when people start sharing. More often than not one of them will say in the debrief “I had no idea I had such fascinating colleagues in the office!“. Everyone has something fascinating about them. We just have to offer honest curiosity to bring it out and let them share. And maybe we find some common connection points on the way!

Mantra 5: “We are MEANT to connect.”

They say if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together. People are meant to connect. We are not islands. Value always comes from collaboration. We are better together.

If you walk up to somebody with a big smile and say “Hey, I don’t believe we’ve met, my name is Claudia” you are basically communicating “Hey, we are meant to meet. I am an interesting person, you are an interesting person, let’s see how we can add value to each other“. Mindset is everything when you connect with others!

Abundance over scarcity, giving over taking, listening over speaking and you will radiate all the right vibes for people to like you instantly.

Apply these 5 mantras rigorously, and you will see the bad smell of networking completely disappearing!

Seek to add value and seek to make connections and you will set yourself up for a network beyond anything you’ve ever thought imaginable!

To your success!

Dr. Claudia

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