If You Are a PI, Do These Things

If you are a private investigator wanting to reach out more, new to the business, or just considering PI work as an option, here are my suggestions to you:

  1. Find your industry leaders.  Find them and immerse yourself in their books, blogs, webinars, articles, newsletters, videos, presentations, podcasts, training, professional groups, conferences, tweets, and posts.  Learn everything you can from them.  Early on, when I decided to become a private investigator, I joined Twitter and immediately started looking for other private investigators.  I researched private investigator groups and especially looked for professionals in the areas I was most interested in - social media, open source, and adoption.  Once I found them, I uncovered everything I could about them.  Also, through them, I found other people of interest to follow.  It opened up my world, just as I hoped it would.
  2. Subscribe to PI Magazine, which can be found at pimagazine.com.  You can receive both print and digital copies for $39 if you sign up for one year or $72 if you sign up for two years.  If you only want the digital editions, you’ll pay $24 for one year or $40 for two years.  Either way, PI Magazine throws in past digital issues that go all the way back to 2010 when you sign up.  You can also order a single issue for $7.95.  Each edition focuses on a different aspect of private investigations.  The articles are valuable, but so are the people who write them.  When you find an article especially helpful or compelling, take note of its author and research them further.
  3. Interact with the private investigators you follow online.  Comment on and share their articles, blogs, tweets, and posts.  Send them a private email if their book was amazing and really helped you out.  Introduce yourself to them at conferences.  If they have created an awesome product, buy it when money allows.  Put yourself out there.
  4. Take advantage of webinars and online training you can do from home.  It’s cheap or sometimes completely free.  It doesn’t take much to set aside an hour here and there to gain invaluable knowledge about your craft.  One free sight I’ve used quite often is i-sight.com
  5. Read books.  Read a lot of them.  Take notes.  Keep reading.
  6. Join professional associations.  Research all of those available to you and choose a few that you think will be most helpful.  Take advantage of their membership offerings and become involved.
  7. Attend conferences when you can.  This one is more difficult because of the expense, but it’s definitely worth your time and money when you can make it happen.  At conferences, you get it all - training, exposure to great private investigators, and interaction with your peers.  At the first private investigator conference I ever attended, I wasn’t even licensed yet and knew absolutely no one.  I unexpectedly met a seasoned PI who totally took me under his wing and became my unofficial mentor.  We swapped phone numbers and still talk to each other on a regular basis.  He has helped me determine my niche, given me marketing strategies, critiqued my website, assisted with my letterhead, advised on my business cards, and encouraged me every step of the way.  He has given me valuable advice on nearly every aspect of private investigations.  When I talk to George, I pick up my pen and take notes every time.  He’s a heck of an investigator and doesn’t hesitate to share his knowledge with me.
  8. This one is obvious because I just shared the story of finding my mentor, but find a mentor.  For so many reasons, find a mentor.  Find him or her at a conference like I did.  Strike up a conversation on Twitter with someone you follow who always provides information that is helpful to you.  Find someone local and just put yourself out there.  Ask around.  Even before the first conference I attended, I found a few local PI’s online and sent them emails.  One who replied was especially kind and didn’t seem to mind my questions, so I followed up.  We ended up meeting at a local country club and talking for nearly three hours about how to get my foot in the door and what I needed to do to pursue my interest in private investigating.  We still talk occasionally.  I don’t think I would have pursued my PI license if it hadn’t have been for Jack.
  9. Private investigations is a broad category.  Find out what it is you’re most interested in doing and what you’re good at.  Carve out your niche.  Don’t try to do it all.  As you read, research, and dive in, you’ll start developing your skills.  You’ll figure it out.  If you develop a knack for something later, you can always add that to the list of services you offer.
  10. Don’t stop learning.  Private investigations is always changing.  Change with it.