I recognize the importance of who shows up to the table to negotiate. My philosophy has always been to build a relationship with the individual, understand what they want and need from an offer, look at what makes the most business sense and strive to walk away with a win-win scenario. To me, the relationship is critical as this offer is an offer to be on the same team. I try to keep that in the front of my mind during all employment negotiations.
What does this mean?
As a job seeker you need to know what you need and want from this opportunity. You need to understand what you see as "fair" and you need to do the research. This is important as it allows you be armed with the knowledge and information you need about the company and the industry (often this can give you many clues about what is available - average compensation packages in the industry, where the company tends to sit compared to its competitors etc.) to keep your expectations realistic.
Compensation Package. When many of us think compensation we think salary. There is so much more to a compensation package - this includes not only your salary but your performance pay, stock options, health benefits, lunch program, gym membership, company car, $ towards professional development, pension contributions, vacation days, etc. etc. Look at the entire package, not just the salary and do a quick total compensation figure (add up the value of everything they are offering). You may be surprised by the total investment in YOU!