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Ask Mika: How do you effectively ask a client to pay you more?

We recently asked Know Your Value readers to submit questions about how to speak up effectively in the workplace.
Image: Smiling businesswomen talking in office
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In this recurring, “Ask Mika” series, we challenge Know Your Value readers to submit questions to Mika Brzezinski about a variety of issues, including negotiating effectively, workplace ethics and how to be recognized for your personal and professional value.

In this installment, we focused on how to speak up effectively in the workplace. This question has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Julie Cook Ramirez asked: “I have been successfully self-employed for more than 20 years with a number of long-term clients. In some instances, my rate is pre-determined, while with other clients, I set my own rate. In the case of one particularly large client, I have not raised my rate at all during the entire 17-year period they have had me working on projects for them. How would you recommend I address this issue? They are a valuable client; my work for them comprises a significant portion of my income. I don’t want to risk losing them or having them hire me less often. However, I feel I should be able to increase my rate - especially after all this time."

Mika: It’s time that you are paid your true value. I think the fact that you haven’t raised your rate in 17 years is a reason enough for you to earn more. And while I don’t know enough about your clients , over the course of 17 years I imagine you have developed a relationship where you can talk with this client face-to-face. And you should.

Don’t forget. They obviously also value you, too. You are not going to lose them. And not acting because you are afraid of losing a client can be counterproductive, because the worst that could happen is your rate stays the same.

Know Your Value founder and Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Miller Hawkins / Miller Hawkins

It's also important to present data showing what you have been able to do for your client over 17 years. Demonstrate the growth that you have created for them and emphasize how you’ll be able to continue to do this for them in the future.

But you have to be serious about raising your rate. Express how much you value them as a client and that you hope that they value you the same way. This is all about using your voice and finding the right words.

And when you have a client that has been with you for almost two decades, you are in a very good pocket where you should feel very comfortable doing this.

And if you want to take my answer and show it to them, go for it! Whatever it takes to know your value.