Saturday, July 16, 2005

BATNA to the rescue!

No, BATNA is not the female cousin of BATMAN.

It's a negotiation term, it means "Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement."

It means "the less you care about the outcome of a negotiation, the more likely you will win during said negotiation."

Let's take a real example.

I was talking on the phone the other day with Julia, a sales rep from a placement agency, who was offering me a job. The salary was $XX,000.00. (Unfortunately, I haven't yet reached six-figure nirvana. Don't worry, I'll get there some day. Thanks for your concern).

I told her, "You know, that number doesn't excite me too much. You want to excite me, don't you? So I can do a good job, right?!"

She said, in a monotonous voice: "Yes, Peter, I want to excite you... What do you want?"

"I need $3,000 more."

"I don't know if the client..."

"Well Julia, I love you and everything, but listen, I just spoke to another agency, and that's what they're offering me to work for a downtown firm. I would rather go with you, though, because we have a long history and you understand my male need for excitement."

"Okay, okay, let me talk to the client and I'll call you in five. You're very tough, Peter."

"And you're very sweet!"

My BATNA was the second firm (I was not bluffing, I really had a second job offer). If I didn't have that "best alternative" I would not have been in a good bargaining position.

I would have had no choice but to accept the original offer from Julia.

LinkedIn basically multiplies opportunities for you to create BATNAs, whether or not you currently hold a full-time position.

In concrete HR terms, it means that if an employee has 200 connections, many of whom are executive contacts at competitor firms, then he/she is more likely to jump ship. Therefore, he/she should be WELL TREATED, because it costs a LOT to replace such a valuable employee.

The question now is, what if you're well connected via LinkedIn, but your boss somehow doesn't know that you are well connected? Should you or shouldn't you alert your boss to the fact that you are using LinkedIn?

More later, I gotta go eat something.