One of the most amazing things about the first Podcamp Boston is how many enduring friendships have come into my life because of it.  Of the 347 people on the registrants list for that very first Podcamp, I can count at least 45 friends, close friends, colleagues, and people I’ve worked with subsequently on various projects.  That’s a very good event-to-lasting-connection ratio, in my book.

So I wasn’t all that surprised to hear from another Podcamp friend, who first attended Podcamp NYC and Podcamp Pittsburgh, that they regularly get together, every few months, with about 30 friends they met at Podcamp.  This group flies to different locations around the country and spends time together, like a mini-conference on the fly, but brought together not by an event, but by friendship formed through and around an event over time.

This makes it all worth it, to me.

I love the people I have met through podcasting, and my life has changed infinitely for the better for it.  But having been involved in putting on at least 6 different podcamps, I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to pay it forward, as it were.  The fact that these events are spawning other new friendships and relationships- that other people’s lives are now richer for the experience- that’s really what feels good inside.  Like a job well done.

Over New Year’s, my family and I got away for the weekend to Montreal, and met several of our podcasting friends there.  My kids played with their kids, we ate dinner together, and just had fun, even without the “reason” of a conference to make it happen.  I said we had to do this more often, and find a way to make it happen.  So when I found out there was another whole group that was making this happen every few months for quite sometime, I have to admit, I felt a little silly and lame- others were already doing this- they didn’t need the excuse of a conference to get together- they just did it, regardless of any formal reason.

The bottom line here, is that I feel incredibly lucky to have had a small part in bringing people together, and that those relationships have continued, grown and expanded over time.  We don’t always get to see the power of something we’ve done in the world- what the ripple effects of our actions might be.  But to know that all the work that goes into these conferences has this kind of lasting effect in people’s life- that is a special and magical moment, indeed.  I feel like a switchboard operator crossed with a yenta- a matchmaker- and feel really fortunate to have brought something new and valuable into the world.

That’s all the return on Investment I need- a return on influence, however small, that makes it all worth while.  While these relationships have also led to business and partnerships over time, the friendships are what’s most valuable.  It may be more difficult to quantify in terms of dollars and cents, but the richness its brought into my life alone is priceless.