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Don’t Go Bust, Barter

Posted on December 16th, 2009

Bartering is a system of trade that predates the use of money, whereby you trade your skills, services, or products for something you want from someone else.

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About 25 years ago, during a recession in the early 1980s, a lot of bartering clubs sprang up, so people who were out-of-work or having financial problems could increase the funds available to them. Once people joined the group, they could turn their skills, services or products into points; then others could employ them or purchase their products using the points they had accumulated in their own accounts. And if no one wanted to use one’s skills, services, or products, they would accumulate negative points up to a cap, until they found a way for others to want what they offered.  Through this system, these clubs sought to achieve a fair balance between what people were getting and giving.

Back then, I met several people at business and networking groups who had organized these systems, and for a small amount of real money, people could join. Though I didn’t join myself, since I didn’t need the extra cash at the time, I met a number of people who found these systems of great value, and also met several entrepreneurs who set them up. Later, as the economy recovered, interest in these clubs declined in membership and many closed down as people rejoined the mainstream economy.

This seems to be a good approach to renew today, whether you organize a bartering system or join one.

As an organizer, think of running a barter service as a new business, which can be very successful if you have the skills needed to run the business, such as a good head for figures, an attention to detail for everyday operations, and good communication, marketing, and sales skills to promote the service.  You will also need a minimal number of people with different skills in your local area, so members can offer a wide range of skills, products, and services for an exchange.

If you simply want to participate in bartering, you might do this directly by offering an exchange with your own contacts or try posting whatever you are offering on one of the social media sites like Linked In.  You can also tell people in your list of e-mail contacts what you are offering and what you want. Or join a bartering service to list your skills, services, and products and describe what you hope to gain in exchange.

To determine what to list, think about what you have done in the past and list what you can offer that might be of interest to someone else.  If you have a lot to offer, divide up your skills, services, or products by category and post them separately.

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