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Negotiate your way forward, Medvec urges women

Victoria Medvec

“How many of you want to put your career into overdrive because you want a promotion? How many of you want to be a CEO or in the c-suite of a company?” Dr. Victoria Husted Medvec, founder and executive director of the Kellogg School’s Center for Executive Women, asked 1,200 attendees at NEW Leadership Summit, Sept. 29, 2017. “I think it’s important to know what we’re trying to achieve.”

Medvec offered advice for advancing a career through power negotiating, a frequent stumbling block for professional women. “It’s not that women don’t negotiate. It’s that women don’t ask for themselves,” she said. “We’re modest at times.”

The expert on negotiating shared ways to negotiate your way to a more fulfilling career:

Build your network. “I want [a network] that gives me to information. I want unique timing of that information and I want to get referrals,” Medvec said.

Leverage unique ties. Boundary-spanning networks that include people from different divisions, different companies and different fields offer unique information, opportunities and referrals.

Leverage mentors and sponsors, who serve two different roles in career-building. “A mentor is someone you go to with your problems. When you go to a sponsor, you don’t have any problems,” Medvec said.

As with networking teams, it’s important to build relationships with sponsors — those who can speak on your behalf — across boundaries.

Identify negotiation opportunities. “[Many women] wait for a promotion instead of asking for it,” Medvec said. “If a man sees five job requirements for a promotion, he thinks, ‘I got one. I got this.’ To him, they’re recommendations, nice-to-haves. But a woman doesn’t want to be hired for a job if she’s ‘not qualified.’”

Self-confidence and negotiation skills can lead to career-changing opportunities, she added. “Don’t think of ‘No’ as a wall. Think of ‘No’ as a window to open up and climb through.”

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