Time should be spent researching who you are meeting with, as well as the location. Remember, you are in charge of your own protection. Pre-meeting preparation can help you avoid trouble before the meeting takes place. You will find that once you have done this a few times, it requires little effort.
- Open Source Intelligence Gathering (OSINT)
There are a tremendous amount of resources available on the internet that can provide information on those you are meeting. The following resources are free of charge and easy to use.
- Search Engines: At the very least, run the name of anyone you are meeting with through the major search engines. If it is a common name, narrow the search by including a city and state.
- Google Maps: View images of areas before entering. Know your exits, the conditions of the area and have a sense of direction.
- Social Media: Search the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. You can learn a lot from pictures and social circles.
- Court Records: A lot of states have publicly accessible court records. Search surrounding states for related court records.
- Google Yourself: Protect your personal information and minimize your online footprint. If your name is unique, consider setting up a Google alert so you can be notified if information about you becomes indexed in Google.
- Notify Others & Check Availability
- Let another person(s) know about your meeting, time and location.
- If there is a particular concern, set a time to check-in. If the check-in is missed, have a plan.
- Alert SoS Contacts: If you have an Apple or Samsung device that supports SoS emergency alerts, have it configured and notify your contacts of your agenda to ensure they are available to receive emergency alerts.
- Plan Your Self-Defense
After you have completed your pre-meeting preparation, you need to think about how you will conduct yourself on-site. Your initial arrival needs significant attention. Consider the following:
- Recon Loop
- Drive around the destination and familiarize yourself with surroundings, exits, lighting, trafficked areas, etc.
- Make note of anything/anyone that is suspicious.
- Find the safest place to park (line of sight to destination, well lit, frequented by others). Do not forget that parking lots are transitional spaces that are hotbeds for criminal activity.
- Plan your post-meeting exit. When returning to your vehicle, take a different route than you did when exited it.
- Checking In (Before Exiting Vehicle)
- Make sure you have cell phone reception. Do not rely on calling for help unless you know you have reception.
- Let emergency contacts know you have arrived safely and when you’ll check-in next.
- Communicate a plan of action for your emergency contact to follow if a check-in is missed.
- Pre-Position Your Devices
- Cell Phone: Make sure you can discreetly activate the SoS features of your phone.
- Pepper Spray (non-dominate support hand): The fastest draw is have your hand on the pepper spray prior to needing it.
- Meeting Essentials: Ensure that marketing materials, business card, pens and such are easily presentable. Avoid focus lock. Do not become distracted or take your attention away from those with whom you are meeting.
Engaging the Client
Once contact with the client is established, be vigilante in regard to knowing your surroundings. Always leave yourself a way out.
- Scan Your Surroundings
- Always Leave Yourself an Out: Know your exits and try to stay between the client and an exit.
- Determine Who is Present: If there are multiple people present, especially adult males that you were not expecting, consider leaving. See the section below, “Handing Concerns Gracefully.”
- Assess the State of the Client: Upon your arrival, immediately assess the physical and mental state of those present. If something is off, leave.
- Do Not Accept Food or Drink: It is never a good idea to ingest anything given to you by a stranger. Once you realize you have been drugged it is too late to help yourself. Prevention is your only option.
- Maintain Your Safety
- Stay in Condition Yellow: Always maintain a relaxed, heightened state of awareness.
- Look for Pre-Attack Indicators: Most attacks are prefaced with pre-attack indicators.
- Maintain Distance: If you are uncomfortable, keep your distance. Do not let a potential aggressor get close enough to grab you or restrict your movements. Maintain the ability to exit the premise.
- Be Wary if Others Suddenly Appear: If the dynamics of the meeting suddenly change, re-assess the situation. If others unexpectedly show up at the location, maintain your distance and consider leaving.
- Give Yourself Benefit of the Doubt: Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right it, it probably isn’t.
- When in Doubt, Leave: Be comfortable ending a meeting on your terms, even if it means abruptly cutting the meeting short.
Handling Concerns Gracefully
Maintain your safety without compromising the relationship. If you feel uncomfortable, you have several options for ending the meeting, while at the same time preserving the relationship in case you want to reschedule. Consider the following options:
- Say You’re Sick & Reschedule
- Fake an Emergency (react to a text)
- Take a “Phone Call”
- Excuse Yourself to Retrieve Item From Car
- Discretely Activate Cell Phone SoS
Once your meeting has concluded, you need to get into your care safely and exit the area.
- Parking Lots are “Transitional Spaces”: Again, you will be entering a high crime area when approaching your vehicle. Know how to safely traverse transitional spaces.
- Scan Area Before Entering: Never enter an area unless you can observe it from a distance and know it is safe to enter. Consider carrying a flashlight so you can see into dark areas before entering.
- Approach Vehicle from a Different Route: Make yourself unpredictable. When leaving, approach your vehicle from a different direction from which you exited it upon your arrival.
- Check-in w/Emergency Contact: Once you have safely left the area, let your emergency contact know that the meeting has ended and you are safe.
At first, it may seem like a lot of effort to safely conduct a meeting with a stranger. However, with a little planning and consistency, the process should become habitual and easy to implement into your self-defense plan.