It is that time of year again, when we are all working hard to meet year-end deadlines, and finalize budgets for next year, all while attending holiday parties and scheduling a little time off with our families. It is, to say the least, the busy – busy – busiest time of year!

It is also the time when we’re keenly aware of just how hard we worked last year, and just how much we did to make our companies successful. We’re reflecting on our overall performance and possibly thinking we have  earned the right to receive a year-end bonus or a raise for next year.

Well, last year was a tough year, no doubt, and you may just be right — you deserve a year-end bonus or a raise. In a perfect world, where we work for perfect bosses and perfect companies, our employers would notice, the heavens would open and the waters would part. We would be summoned to our leader’s office, where he would spend an hour talking about how amazing we are and how the company would not have reached this level of success without us. After which, he would give us both a generous raise and generous bonus.

Sounds nice! Unfortunately the world is not perfect. We have to remember our employers are people too. They are working hard to meet year-end deadlines, and finalize budgets for next year, all while attending holiday parties and scheduling a little time off with their families. For them, it is also the busy – busy – busiest time of year, and sometimes in all the rushed year-end reviews, bonuses and thank you’s get overlooked.

So if you want a year-end bonus or a raise then buck-up the courage and ask!

Here’s 5 tips to show you how!

1. Meet Eye to Eye – You need to negotiate in person, eye to eye. To negotiate well, you need to communicate well and you need to do that  face-to-face. Body language, eye contact, facial expressions–they all matter in negotiations. You need to make this a scheduled appointment with your boss and let him/her know that you want to discuss your role in the company, overall performance and expectations.

2. Do Your Homework – You need to come prepared. You need to know (and have practiced) what you are going to say, how you are going to ask, and what examples you will use to make your case. You need to bring facts, figures and proof. Negotiations need to be fact-based not emotion-based, so come prepared to give your employer the information he/she needs to grant you a bonus.

3. Let Them Do The Talking – Begin your conversation by getting your employer talking. You should ask open-ended questions about how he/she thinks this year has gone, the overall opinion of your performance and that of your department. Engage them in a discussion about specific expectations and how you met or exceeded them. Allowing them to talk first will relax the environment, help them feel they are in control, and help you make your case.

4. Color Outside The Lines —  With many companies  struggling and the economy constantly shifting, you need to know before you go into a negotiation whether your company is in a financial situation to give you a bonus. If they are, great. If not, then you need to come with ideas on other ways you could be compensated. Examples: more paid time off, a bigger office, outside training, or a personal coach. Be willing to color outside the lines and come prepared to share a different approach to the year-end bonus.

5. Get Back On The Horse –Rejection is not the end of the world, in fact it is just the motivation you need to get it right next year. If you make a great case, and still don’t get your bonus, then make sure you are clear on the reasons why. Ask your boss for specifics on what it would take to be considered for a bonus next year. Write those down and begin taking action now on your 2012 year-end bonus.

Just like everything else in life, if you want a year-end bonus or you want a raise, then you need to go out and get it. Chances are your employer values you, and a nudge from you may be just the motivation he needs to remember why.