Looking For An Even Trade?

A barter exchange may be just the answer, what you should know before joining

Perhaps the best place to locate barter exchanges operating inyour area is in the Yellow Pages, under "Barter & TradeExchanges." You should always do some careful research beforejoining a barter exchange-your reputation, as well as thecost of your membership fee and trade credits, is on the line.Visit the exchange office to check out the people who are runningthe organization, their membership directory and their computersystem.

Some questions to ask before joining an exchange include:

How large is the exchange membership network? Barterclubs range from several hundred to more than 5,000 members, andmany smaller exchanges network via computer databases with otherclubs nationwide. The larger the exchange network, the moreservices you'll have to choose from.

What is the focus of the exchange? Particularly whenconsidering small exchanges, find out what servicecategories-travel, entertainment, business supplies,professional services-they deal in. Remember, you have to beable to spend the trade credits you accumulate within theexchange.

How long has the exchange been operating? The worst-casescenario is that you have several thousand dollars of credit inyour account and the exchange goes bankrupt. This doesn'thappen often, but it may pay to join a reputable club that'sbeen in business for at least five years.

Does the exchange have good references? To get a feel forwhat you're getting into, talk to a handful of clients who havebeen members of the exchange for four or five years.

The small amount of time and effort it takes to investigate abarter network is a fair trade for the services you'll receive,not to mention the marketing muscle you'll gain by exposingyour products and services to a whole new audience.

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