About April of 2011, I was putting together my first TEDx conference.

Organizing your first TEDx conference is one of the most stressful (and rewarding) things a human being can do, I suspect. Because it was the first one in our area (Northern Colorado), we didn’t have a lot of clout. Or a lot of guaranteed funding, either.

So I had to ask for favors.

If you know me, you know how much I hate asking for favors. I think if you’re doing work, you should get paid that work’s worth and not a cent less.

That being said, barter can be a good idea when you know you need help and you won’t waste the other person’s time. Or when you can offer a trade equal to or greater than the favor. When you’re asking for a favor, understand exactly the value that the other person is being asked to provide – and respect that. You might not agree with their value, but if this person is willing to help you – don’t argue.

Back to TEDxFoCo, I asked two videographers for their help. The first one turned us down outright. The second one… didn’t. In fact, they filmed the event, produced it, and delivered videos in the right format.

Videographer #2 was pure awesome. And now that I’m planning the next TEDxFoCo, I’m keeping them in mind for paid work. With a decent budget, I can pay them what they’re worth. This videographer also gets mentioned every time one of my clients needs video work.

The other videographer? I don’t actively campaign against ’em – because I get it. The drive against doing free work for any reason is huge. Maybe it wasn’t a good time to ask. Still, this person is not my first choice for paid videowork. I can’t promote them to friends, clients, whatever – because I couldn’t count on ’em when the cards were down.

When you’re being asked to barter, do work pro-bono, or donate time of any kind – always temper that instinct to say no against who’s asking you and what the opportunity is. Unless they’re a complete slouch or dirtbag, if someone’s asking you a favor – their butt is probably on the line.

Just don’t get overbooked.

(Header photo: Trading by Eddy Van 3000)

This post is part of the January Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here. And don’t forget to join us for our Twitter Chat on Thursday (Jan 26) at noon (Pacific). We’ll be tweeting up a storm under the #WordCarnival hashtag.