Sunday, May 27, 2012

Image Projection v's Image Rejection

(This post by Hans van Beuge)

The recently disgraced and dismissed Secret Service Agents, who were part of the advance security for President Obama’s trip to Columbia, illustrate that even those at the apex of our profession are vulnerable to bad judgments and inappropriate behavior. 

Cohorting off duty with Columbian prostitutes was obviously a very poor choice but what surprised me more, was that the major offender had left a lengthy cyber trail of his unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

This included posting photos of himself working with his Protectee as well as making sexist comments about the Protectee and other women on social networking sites.  

Projecting and maintaining a professional on-line reputation and image is essential to obtaining and maintaining working relationships within the Protection Industry.

Today, almost everything you do online is easy to track, especially when your're using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, ASmallWorld, Viadeo, Xing, etc.

The good, the bad and the ugly ... anything that you have posted or has been posted about you on the Web will come up in an online search or with a little google-fu.

It now only takes a potential employer a few seconds to get a comprehensive and candid view of your professional and private life.

It's estimated that social media sites are checked by up to 63% of recruiters and 78% use search engines to find out more about potential employees.

What does your cyber image say about you? What sort of image would a potential client get from looking at your photos and comments posted online?

Do they project professionalism or do they convey an image of a narcissistic, attention seeking, self-serving fantasizer?  Once something has been posted online the reality is that it will probably stay there forevevever.

What would a potential client think if they did a search for your name whilst conducting due diligence and found that you had posted photo's of yourself with previous clients?  Or had divulged information about previous clients or had pretented to work with clients that you blatantly never had?

I frequently advise Agents that they should strive to become the sort of Agent they would hire them-selves if they were after the services of a Protection Specialist.

The same is true of your online image.  Make it project the type of Agent a Client would want to employ or interact with.

If you wish to become a Professional Protector than keep your online presence professional.

Keep in mind the famous quote, "Small minds discuss people (and I'll add, THEMSELVES), Average minds discuss events and Great minds discuss ideas".

Avoid posting banal, personal or opinionated comments. Make sure your photos enhance your image, not diminish it.

This is important not only from a PERSEC perspective but also from a marketing stategy.  Having a degree of mystery about you can be more effective than exposing every detail of your personal life.

Tony Scotti once said on facebook that he was not interested in hearing what you had for breakfast!  Amen to that!

"A man may cut his own throat with his tongue", I've frequently seen instances of that on social media sites. 

It should very much be a case of 'Less is more'.

Balancing the need to promote your services, the business aspect, with the high degree of confidentiality and discretion needed in this job will always be a contentious issue.

Although some of the most successful Protection Agents I know fly completely under the radar, I'd advise those attempting to enter the industry to be digitally existant. Employers do like to check you out and having a cyber social presence will assist you in networking with fellow professionals world-wide.

Do a google search for those in the profession that are held in the highest regard and are the most sucessful.  Emulate how they project their online image and behavior.

Without fail they all project the image of understated, dignified professionals.

It is also completely inadvisable to put a picture of yourself in a hot tub, on your website, unless you are a pornographer or plumbing supply wholesaler!

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