Firstly remember the spirit of exchanging favours; it's about doing a favour for a friend and when you enter into that spirit, you'll find that swapping skills is an easy, fulfilling and joyful experience.
Here are some tips to help you:
Step 1. Develop your profile and register your own skills and items.
Not sure what skills you've got to offer as favours? Think about anything you enjoy and are good at. It could be gardening or DIY, or you might be good at art and can create a painting for someone. Think also about how you can use your skills to do favours, so for example you might be a good cook and can offer dinner parties or meals that can be frozen, or teach someone to cook. Or you might like driving and can offer chauffeuring, lifts to the airport or lifts back from the pub. You can also register your professional skills if you wish and you can now register items you would like to swap.
Register unwanted items by going to your cupboards, attic or garage to find things you don't want and can swap for favours or other items.
Step 2. Search for people offering things you're interested in.
Go to SEARCH SKILLS/ITEMS at the top of the site and search for people in the geographical area of your choice.
As long as you save your searches, the system will bring up those members who have the skills you're looking for and other members who are looking for your skills.
Remember that many people will be willing to consider swapping their skills in exchange for different things so if they've got something you're interested in message them and see if they're interested.
Step 3. Message the person and build a friendship
When you feel ready you can exchange contact details and chat about doing each other a favour. For example, 'I need my windows cleaning and in exchange I can fix your car'.
Step 4. Agree together what you think is a fair exchange
Agree timescales for doing the favours for each other. See 'guidelines for a fair exchange' below to help you. To enter into the spirit of friendship and trust, we suggest that when you are deciding on what is a fair exchange, you base it on the time you give each other rather than the market value of your skill. In the end, as long as you're both happy with the favours you're doing for each other it will work!
Step 5. Carry out your skill and exchange favours!
We suggest the first time round that you do the favours in stages wherever possible so that you build trust and friendship. So for example if someone is doing up your garden and you're building them a website, you might agree to do a part of the favour and then get together to see how things are progressing. This is particularly relevant if you're swapping online as it usually takes longer to build a friendship when you haven't met.
If you're swapping an item, you can either meet up to swap it or do it by post.
Step 6. Build your reputation.
If you are happy with the favour that was carried out then write each other a testimonial and give each other a star rating to help you both build your reputation within the community.
Oh and do remember to tell us your stories!
This site is for exchanging favours only and not for the sale of goods or services. However we do encourage people to build their reputation and promote themselves and their skills and so if you swap skills and the other person then wants to employ your services as a result, that's fantastic!
Guidelines for a fair exchange:
Making the exchange fair for both parties
Whilst it is up to you as friends to decide on what is a fair exchange, below are some guidelines and important things to consider to help you.
What is a fair exchange?
The most important aspect to exchanging favours is that you're both happy with what you're doing for each other. To enter into the spirit of friendship and trust, we suggest that when you are deciding on what is a fair exchange, you base it on the time you give each other rather than the market value of your skill. Market value changes constantly but time is something that is equally valuable to all of us. Ultimately, again, what is important is that you are both happy with the favours you're doing for each other.
You may want to acquire evidence of each other's expertise. For example, if someone is offering to take photographs because they are good at photography, you may ask them to show you examples of their work. Or if someone is offering singing lessons, you may contact people they have previously provided lessons to for a reference. If at any time you have any doubts about the trustworthiness or the competence of another member, we strongly recommend that you withdraw communications and contact us with details. Trust your instincts!
Both parties should agree the timescales within which they are going to carry out the favours for each other. Agree specific dates that the favours will be done on and both parties diarise the dates.
Helping each other to build trust
One way in which you can build the trust between each other whilst you are doing each other a favour is to review your progress as you go along. So for example, if someone is knitting you a jumper and you are painting them a picture and you have agreed that you will both do your part within 2 months, you may want to get together after a month to show each other how you're getting on. This helps to develop your friendship as well as reassuring each other that the favour is being carried out as agreed. It also helps you to agree whether any adjustments need to be made along the way so that you are both happy with the final outcome.
What is expected of me when I enter into an exchange agreement?
Being part of the Swapaskill community means you are signing up to being honest and trustworthy at all times. If you have agreed to swap skills and do each other a favour, you must both honour your agreement unless you jointly decide otherwise. This site wishes to promote friendship, fairness and goodwill. Anyone accepting a favour who has promised to do one in return and doesn't carry it out, will be (unless there are, in our view, exceptional circumstances) excluded from the site. If you experience another member behaving in a dishonest and untrustworthy manner, please contact us.
Ratings and testimonials are important as they help to build your good reputation and will enable you to attract more people who want to do you a favour, in turn opening a whole world of new opportunities for you. If you are happy with the favour you've received, remember to write a testimonial and give them a star.
In order to exchange favours it is likely you will need to meet other members. In any community there is an element of risk when meeting new people. Whilst we continuously endeavour to make this community a safe and trusting environment, your personal safety is your own responsibility. To help you, below are guidelines that you should follow to minimise any risk.
If you are under 16, you must take an adult with you if you agree to meet someone. This is part of your terms and conditions that you have signed when you joined. Look for odd behavior or inconsistencies both online and offline. The person at the other end may not be who or what he or she says. Trust your instincts. If anything at all makes you uncomfortable, don't agree to meet the person or if you are with them walk away for your own safety and protection. If instinctively you are unsure about the person in any way or suspect they are being dishonest about their skills or capabilities, cease contact with them.
Talk on the phone first and get a photo
A phone call can reveal much about a person's communication and social skills. Consider your security and do not reveal your personal phone number to a stranger. Try a mobile phone number instead or use local telephone blocking techniques to prevent your phone number from appearing in Caller ID. Only furnish your phone number when you feel completely comfortable. Also, make sure you have a photo of the person before you meet and that you share the details of who you are meeting with a friend or member of your family.
Only meet when you feel comfortable
The beauty of meeting and relating online is that you can collect information gradually, later choosing whether to pursue the friendship and exchange favours in the offline world. You never are obligated to meet anyone, regardless of your level on online friendship. And even if you decide to arrange a meeting, you always have the right to change your mind. Trust yourself. Go with your instincts.
Watch out for warning signs
Pay attention to displays of anger, intense frustration or attempts to pressure or control you. Acting in a passive-aggressive manner, making demeaning or disrespectful comments or any physically inappropriate behavior are all warning signs. You should be concerned if the other person exhibits any of the following behavior without providing an acceptable explanation:
- Provides inconsistent information about age, interests, appearance, marital status, profession, employment, etc.
- Refuses to speak to you on the phone after establishing an ongoing, online friendship.
- Fails to provide direct answers to direct questions.
- Appears significantly different in person from his or her online persona.
- Refuses or tries to avoid producing examples of their work or relevant references
When you choose to meet offline, always tell a friend where you are going and when you will return. Leave the name and telephone number of the person you are meeting with your friend or family member. Never arrange to be picked up at your home. Provide your own transportation, meet in a public place at a time with many people around (a familiar restaurant or coffee shop is often a good choice), and when the meeting is over, leave on your own as well. Refrain from drinking excessively, as it could impair your ability to make good decisions. If at some point you and you both decide to move to another location, take your own car.
Getting out of a difficult situation
Never do anything you feel unsure about. If you are in any way afraid of the person you are meeting, use your best judgment to diffuse the situation and get out of there. Excuse yourself long enough to call a friend for advice, ask someone else on the scene for help or slip out the back door and drive away. If you feel you are in danger, call the police; it's always better to be safe than sorry. Never worry or feel embarrassed about your behavior; your safety is much more important than one person's opinion of you.
Whilst the vast majority if people are trustworthy (think ebay!), a small number of liars, cheaters and imposters ply their craft on the Web, however, you'll also find them on the streets, in nightclubs , cocktail parties or even sitting across from you at your local cafe. Regardless of where you meet someone, meeting new people is never a risk-free activity, but a little caution will reduce your risk. Be vigilant wherever you are!