I came up to San Francisco today to see what was going on around the Web 2.0 conference. I don’t have a conference pass, so I’m sitting in one of the lounges working. I’ve seen a few familiar faces around and even ran into my friend and fellow ex-Yahoo Randy across the street when I went to grab lunch.

When I was at Yahoo, I didn’t do a lot of conference attending.  But now that I’m free, it’s a great way to get out and meet the folks you know, but don’t really know.  It’s also interesting to look at the way that real connections form. For instance, I just had this conversation with Stowe Boyd (who I met just  briefly over the weekend):

Me: Hi, Stowe. Ryan Kuder. We met at the BBQ on Sunday.
Stowe: Hi, Ryan. How are you?
Me: Good, thanks.
Stowe: I think I read something from you today…
Me: Oh…I commented on your John Edwards post.
Stowe: Riiiight.
Me: All right. I need to go find power. See you around.

“I think I read something from you today.” “I commented on your post.” Never would have had that

Liberty Heights dvd

conversation two years ago.  And yet here are two people, virtual strangers, who have a point of reference for a social interaction.  Things like this happen all over the place.

Think of all of the different ways that you communicate with people.  Or even better, think of all of the different ways you have the opportunity to communicate with people, whether you do or not. You might be surprised how much of the conversation can happen outside the formal channels and how you may not even realize it. Where you communicate, what you say, who you say it to…these are all indicators of who you are, how you think, who you know, and what you’re doing. And collectively, each of these points of contact helps build real human relationships. There’s a powerful network out there that lets total strangers pick up a dialog from a point well after the conversation started.

Social networking on line is great.  But underlying it all are human connections.  Whether it’s between you and someone else, or your brand and a customer, or total strangers.  Behind every screen name and avatar is a person who you just might run into at a conference at Moscone Center one day.