THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Negotiation 101: 7 tips for your success

I have had a few bosses who were great mentors. The last one I had was a deal maker.

My strengths are management and coming up with ideas, and so one of the reasons I took a job with this guy was that I knew he had totally different skills than I did. He gave me so much negotiating advice that it could fill 50 columns.

Here are the seven most memorable tactics:

1. Do not schedule a meeting without the person making the decision. If you cannot get them to tell you who will be making the decisions, tell them that you are sending an admin to the meeting. When they complain, just say, "Then why don't we both send our decision makers?"

2. Do not agree to go to a meeting unless you know who will be there. If they will not tell you, then wait until just before the meeting and call them. Say, "I'm calling to see if the meeting's still on. Please give me a call." We got a call back 10 minutes later to say the meeting was on, and my boss said, "Great, who's coming?"

3. Always have a scapegoat if there will be hard questions. This is a person who takes the first shot at a hard question. When my boss and I went to a partnership meeting and they asked how we would handle billing to small businesses, I told them we'd do it by hand, and after only a half a minute of me going on, my boss came up with a more reasonable answer because I had bought him the time to think.

4. Treat your lawyer like your friend. Of course, our lawyer was my boss's friend because he only hired his friends. But lawyers at top-tier firms are generally smart people who did not want a risky path, so they went to law school and then a big law firm. These are people who can keep a meeting strategy in their head and help you think of the other company's point of view. Note: Some people will say lawyers are slow thinkers. I don't think this is true­ I think it's an illusion caused by hourly billing.

5. Inundate the other side with information. When we met with venture capitalists, they fired off question after question. We began to be able to predict their questions and we created bright, visual charts and diagrams to answer the questions. This way, the venture capitalists would slow down, look at the chart, and we would get in what we wanted to say.

6. Do not fidget. The first meeting I went to with my boss, he counted that I dropped my pen eight times. A fidgeter doesn't know she is fidgeting because she is absorbed in the fidgeting. Someone who's relaxed and confident does not look rigid and does not look fidgety. Even if you cannot achieve this, at least look around the room to see who has achieved it: They will be the toughest negotiator.

7. Believe you are good at negotiating. If you think you're bad, you'll be bad. If you believe you're smart and you do a lot of preparation, then there's no reason to think you're not good. If you really, really do not think you're good, go work for someone like my boss. If you're surrounded by great dealmakers, some of it starts to rub off on you­ it worked that way for me.