How To Negotiate: Sonja Hoel Perkins, Managing Director of The Perkins Fund

Sonja Hoel Perkins has been a venture capitalist for over 30 years. She is the Managing Director of The Perkins Fund and founder of both Broadway Angels and Project Glimmer. Sonja has been ranked among the most Powerful People in Global Finance and has won numerous awards for her work inspiring at-risk teenage girls and women.

When negotiating, how do you present the value you bring to the table?

The value you bring to the table isn’t just about a glowing resume. When negotiating, especially as a venture capitalist, it’s about your connections, your networking abilities, and your all-encompassing business knowledge.

However, what’s most important is a long-term view and partnership. You want to make sure that everyone feels good after the negotiation and that everyone is a winner. So, when people view negotiations as a one-time transaction versus a long-term relationship, they are immediately putting themselves at disadvantage.

What is the greatest asset to have when walking into a negotiation?

The best asset is to have another alternative ready. The ability to walk away is a great position to be in. Make sure that before you make a major life change with whatever negotiation is at hand, you have other options ready. Without that optionality, it becomes really hard to start the negotiation process.

What do you do when you hit a standstill in negotiation and both parties are not willing to budge?

If you are at a standstill, it’s likely a sign that you shouldn’t go through with the deal at hand. If someone isn’t willing to negotiate in a way that everyone can benefit, it’s probably not worth the negotiation (especially if you are in the eleventh hour). I always suggest sleeping on it and reevaluating how you feel the day after to imagine your best alternative to a negotiated outcome.

How should you prepare for a negotiation?

Do your homework and know what the market is. The best preparation is speaking to others who have negotiated with the same people and find out how their experiences were.

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