The next time you think you’re flat broke and can’t acquire something you want or need think again. Physical money isn’t the only game in town when it comes to obtaining goods and services. According to Simone Kelly-Brown, CEO of Own Your Power Communications, bartering is currently experiencing a re-birth.
While Kelly-Brown has been bartering since the mid 90s, she first began to draw others into the world of bartering in 2002 when she was attempting to find a less painful way to network. For five years Kelly-Brown had juggled both full-time employment and her business which was then called Gots to Have it Marketing.
When she left corporate America and decided to focus mainly on her business, she knew she needed to get out and meet new people. Yet despite her outgoing personality, like many professionals, Kelly-Brown dreaded the usual networking scenes.
So she came up with a fresh idea. She would gather women together in a social setting and have them fill out cards. On one side of the card they’d write their name, occupations and what they have to “give” in terms of professional goods and services. On the other side of the card they’d list what they were looking for or what they wanted to “take.”
Give ‘N Take
Participants would then work the room comparing cards. If you met someone who wasn’t a match it was very likely that she’d talked to someone else who was and she’d introduce you. Thus was born Give ‘N Take. The first gathering attracted 30 women. Without any formal advertising, participation doubled at the next gathering strictly through word of mouth. Kelly-Brown then took this successful concept on the road convening Give ‘N Take gatherings in New York, New Jersey, D.C., Miami and Atlanta utilizing reps in various cities to host the events.
Kelly-Brown said she really didn’t initially think of it as bartering. It’s something she’d grown accustomed to doing while working in the music industry bartering books, CDs and other items.
Later she moved Give ‘N Take online in 2003. At first it was still basically a match making service or “one to one” bartering meaning you had to have a perfect match with another person in order to exchange goods and services. “It’s like I give you something, you give me something,” Kelly-Brown explained. Then in 2007 after studying the concept of bartering, attending conferences and talking to veteran barterers Kelly-Brown formed an online barter-exchange network, Giventakenetwork.org which now has connections with more than 40,000 users or “merchants.”
How does bartering work?
To explain how bartering works, in an interview with TNJ. com, Kelly-Brown recounted her first experience with the larger barter-exchange network. As a coach who supports and guides women who are making the transition into owning their own businesses, Kelly-Brown decided to barter 8 hours of coaching. A woman from Colorado who wanted to start a business “purchased” Kelly-Brown’s coaching services and paid with barter dollars, which is equivalent to cash. Kelly-Brown then used part of the barter dollars she was paid to “purchase” web design services from another merchant in the barter exchange. On her blog Kelly-Brown writes about successful barterers and tips on bartering successfully.
The surprising thing that Kelly-Brown discovered is that there is a conspicuous absence of African American participation in barter exchanges yet the concept has existed since the 1960s she reports. “This is not a game,” she says and emphasizes that Fortune 500 companies have been bartering for decades. It’s one of the best kept secrets to business success.
“You can get everything from dental work to printing to website designed to whatever you really want because there are so many different things,” says Kelly-Brown. “You can stay in a hotel. You can go to Mexico on barter.”
Discover your “buried treasures”
It seems that bartering requires a different mindset than what we’re accustomed to. Instead of thinking strictly in terms of dollars and cents, to exchange you draw on other resources and there’s some creativity involved. Most of us probably have a long list of things we’d like to acquire, however if we want to barter, we must also have something to give. Kelly-Brown advises those who’d like to barter to look for what she calls “buried treasure.” Buried treasure might be a talent or it might be something of value stored in your garage that you’re no longer using.
The benefits of bartering
When you consider the state of the economy, the fact that recycled items are eco-friendly and the idea that so many of us are trying to simplify our lives by not focusing so much on money, bartering seems like a good idea all around.
With a desire to share the concept of bartering to a larger audience, Kelly-Brown has penned an e-book called Live The Good Life on Zero Cash: How to use the world’s oldest currency to boost your business.
“It’s something I’m good at,” she says. When she meets people the first thing she thinks is “how can I help you and how can we help each other.”
Kelly-Brown has a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a concentration in Marketing and Advertising from Long Island University. She’s a certified Small Business Camp coach, a popular speaker on college campuses and a radio show host.
On October 10, 2009, Kelly-Brown will be hosting an “Own Your Power Biz Conference” at St John’s University in New York.