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In these trying economic times, the opportunity for bartering among colleagues begins to rise. Folks (especially independents or out-of-works) have more time, less cash, and still need services to move forward, and need community connection for their projects. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from this.

  • Begin to barter with people you know well.
  • Be clear in the beginning what exchange of services (or products) will allow both of you to feel you are being equally served (time-based, project-based, etc.)
  • If you mean to report the barter to your tax accountant, write a written letter agreement outlining the terms of the exchange, and the limits of each of your exposure to liabilities. The IRS considers barter to be the same as revenue or income, and has a special form for you to submit, the 1099B.
  • If you do not mean to report this exchange of services, then keep everything verbal and shake hands. See #1.
  • Be pro-active to set times to exchange services; your colleague will not remember who cancelled what opportunity to meet, only that your give-back did not arrive.
  • If the services you will receive will be delivered by your colleagues’ staff, be certain that your colleague makes clear to the staff that you are a first-tier client, and not a project that can be treated as of secondary importance.
  • Be sure to respond quickly if you are not treated well. Remind your colleague that you will be referring his or her service based on your experience.
  • Be very appreciative of the service you receive, both to the staff and to your colleague.
  • When the exchange is no longer viable or timely, be clear that times or conditions have changed, offer to bring final deliverables forward, and agree to end the exchange. Don’t let the exchange just fade away without a clear ending.

Do you have other ideas, or stories on bartering?