In November of last year, I received an e-mail from Beth Terranova who started and maintains a website called Mining Connection at MiningConnection.com. She had found information about my book, "Tons of Stone above my Head: Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons" on the Internet and wanted to include some of my stories on her website. I was glad to allow her to do so and have since contributed 15 articles on a bi-weekly basis.
A few months ago, we began talking about an opportunity for me to network, tell stories, and sell my books at a couple of conferences where she has a booth. The first one, the Coal Prep Conference, was last Tuesday and Wednesday in Lexington, Ky.
I drove down from a meeting I had in Columbus and showed up in my coal mine outfit of hard hat, caplight, miners belt, bib overalls, long johns, miners' boots, buglight, and methane detector. As I walked through the exhibition area housing over 300 exhibitors and hundreds of attendees, I got a lot of curious looks and smiles.
Later, as conference attendees stopped at our booth, I told my stories of the Walking the Intake Escapeway and the Hundred Dollar Hole, Timmy's Misuse of Humor, and Rats in the Coal Mine. I met people with their own stories very similar to mine. Some acknowledged me with a slight tip of the head, others stopped to buy a book or two. Many commented that I looked like I was ready to go to work. I replied, "Yep, ret to go." Others asked me when I was going to work and I said, "I'm on it, day shift."
Tuesday afternoon, I walked among several hundred attendees during an hour-long social hour and talked about my coal mining experiences. Some people wanted pictures of me with their staff and others gathered around to find out why I was dressed in realistic coal mining gear. I felt like a costumed character at Disney Land.
The whole event was a great deal of fun. In addition to selling a number of books, I collected business cards and distributed my own. My plan is to capitalize upon the relationships I created at the conference. The people who gave me their cards will at their request receive six leadership articles once a month for the next six months for free. At some point, I will call each person to offer my communication and culture change training programs, thereby tapping a new industry for me.
It is important for all leaders to constantly invent new products and reach out to new client constituencies. I believe that regardless of the industry, employees have a right to communicate and receive communication that is respectful. If I have the opportunity, I will work with them to achieve that kind of communication environment.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.