Notes from Panel Discussion – The Secret to Getting Ahead: Your Guide to Communication, Negotiation, and Being Heard

Here are some of my key take-aways from this insightful session @ VMware which I had helped to organize. The panel members were Kathy Chou and Paula Delaney and was led by Madhuri Murlikrishnan.

  • Negotation:
    • First of all, before going, make a list of what is it that you want (and the priorities).
    • Know what are willing to walk away with (if things don’t go your way).
    • Be prepared ! – Cannot stress that enough !
    • Figure out your why – why do you want it, it should not be because someone else has it.
    • Know who you are negotiating with – It will help you decide how to negotiate.
  • Barriers to Communication: Your personality can create a barrier for you to communicate. Here are some helpful suggestions:
    • Build your ecosystem (your mentors, mentees, sponsors,…) – who can vouch for you !
    • Work on building your confidence (again preparation helps)
    • Put yourself in uncomfortable places. You can also tell others that you are not good at it and that will help you get support (and practice and learn).
    • Tell a story – Everyone loves stories
    • Know yourself – and then try to add a little bit of the other kind.
    • During a discussion, remind yourself that it’s not personal !
    • You can always ask questions, questions are free ! And remember you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room.
  • Dealing with Failure:
    • Remember that you don’t have to be best at everything.
    • Embrace failure, you can turn failure into something else. Take time to wallow in misery but then get up and make an action plan.
    • It’s not important to know what not do, it is also important to know what to do.
  • Talking to strangers (in a networking event)
    • Try to find some common ground and how to build a connection. If you can build a connection, rest will follow on.
    • Before going, see if there is someone with whom you can connect with.
    • Have a set of questions to ask (can be different for different times). A great question is – why are you here ?
    • Simply complement people – for what they wear, etc.
    • If it is not working out, excuse yourself, say it was good to meet you and there is someone else you need to catch up with !
    • Be empathetic – remember everyone is in the same boat. If you are nervous about talking to someone – find someone standing alone and talk to them.
    • Go to a group and say ‘Can I join in ?’ – you will never hear a No!
  • Networking
    • Find out what your network looks like. Then decide how you would like to see it, invest time to grow it.

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