In the 15 years I have worked in the realm of executive protection the number one question I get from individuals attempting to break into the field is, “How have you been successful in this field?”
To be completely frank, there is no special secret. In order to succeed you have to network and get out and rattle the bushes. In addition, you have to be hungry. The more people you talk with and the more business cards you pass out it is more likely you will succeed, start to find clients, and build a customer base.
When you network with people it is also important to know your craft, stay current on security related and executive protection trends and issues, and understand not just the physical attributes of the job but also understand how the current unstable financial markets create criminal enterprises to thrive; such as the current situation in Mexico where kidnappings for profit have increased by 85% in the last year. These factors can drive the need for experienced and qualified executive protection specialists. By knowing this type of information you will be able to hold a conversation while networking, thus allowing you to provide expert insight into the field.
I recently received an e-mail from a former student that had listened to my advice and had informed me that he had recently found a well paying EP position. The former student explained that he had volunteered his services at a local charity event and during the event had been able to speak with a number of people and pass out his business cards.
One of the people of whom he had met during the charity event was impressed with his insight and knowledge on protection issues and in turn passed on his business card and website information to a corporate EP team leader who manages two teams for a fortune 500 company. My former student was contacted for an interview and within the month of his initial interview had a full time position on a team.
I fully believe that if you take the time to network as often as possible, the potential for job success and placement will happen. However, at the same time, networking with other EP specialists is also important. There have been many times I have been contacted by other operators that I have worked with thru the years who asked me about a specific job because of my special skill set that was being requested for a position. Sometimes the leads paid off and other times they did not, but I have always remembered one thing…Always return the favor and pass on job alerts to other professionals in the industry.
Hucky said it — networking is vital in the security business. To be successful in protection, you have to build relationships with the protectee, the other team members and the other personalities with which you will interact during your assignment. This means that these individuals will generally be more comfortable interviewing people that they’ve met rather than a faceless name off a resume.
When scouting for opportunities, pay close attention to the evening news to see which high-profile people may have problems with stalkers or workplace threats (usually due to reductions)…these are good places to start looking. Watch online media like bodyguardcareers.com and join forum groups on LinkedIn that relate to protection. Take an EP course from a new school every once in a while; this will help you expand you connections as well. I know one corporate security director that takes his team to a different school every year (funding permitting). This keeps you fresh and allows you to broaden your skill-sets! And, most importantly, don’t get discouraged!