Chris Brogan recently has blogged about things like “cafe shaped conversations” and a bit today about Dunbar’s Number.  I think the points about intimacy of friendships  and the people we know who extend our networks by their own, powerful networks of some of the best people around may best exemplified by what I’ll call the Six Degrees of Podcamp Boston.

I am always amazed at how small decisions can have life-changing consequences. Attending Podcamp Boston 1, in September, 2006 was one of these events, and the torrent of opportunities that have flowed from that event have truly filled my cup many times over.

To give you a small idea of the people I met at that conference and what’s happened since:

1. I went to the conference in part due to an email through Podshow from Chris Penn.  Subsequently, Chris and I have been good friends and have worked on numerous Podcamps and other projects together.

2. I met Chris Brogan, co-founder with Chris Penn, of Podcamp.  Chris and I have worked together from time to time, with some projects for Network 2 and of course, Podcamp.  Some time later, Chris and Chris made me Director of Operations for the Podcamp Foundation, so we’re now a bit of a team in that regard.

3.  At Podcamp Boston, Chris Brogan introduced me to Rob & Megan Hatch.  Megan asked me to be part of the GNM Parents blog, where I’ve been writing now for two and a half years.  It’s some of the most thoughtful parenting content on the web.

4. I met, and have subsequently gotten to be good friends with CC Chapman, Julien Smith, Mitch Joel, Jay Moonah, John Havens, Eric Skiff, Adam Plante, Drew Olanoff, Jeff Pulver, Dale Cruise, Steve Lubetkin, Lisa Marshall, Steve Sherlock,  Steve Garfield, Sooz, Howard Greenstein, Larry Lawfer,  Bob Goyetche and Mark Blevis, and  I am sure I am forgetting a host of others here- needless to say, this was one tremendous conference.

5.  Podcamp Pittsburgh, Podcamp Toronto, Podcamp NYC and Podcamp Philly grew out of the core group of people who attended Podcamp Boston One.  Each of these conferences has its own core group that comes every year, many of whom are not only Podcamp Boston Alumni, but find themselves drawn to many of the other podcamps, even if they aren’t running one themselves, yet.

6.  Each Podcamp I’ve been involved with, including Podcamp NYC, Podcamp Philly, Podcamp DC, and Podcamp Boston have introduced me to more people and more opportunities than I could shake a stick at.  Just one example-  because of someone I met at Podcamp DC, I interviewed the Director at Commonwealth Academy, who put me in touch with Dr. Stuart Brown from the National Institutes of Play, who I will be interviewing on my show, and I am reading his wonderful new book, Play, coming out March 5.  No Podcamp DC,  No Dr. Brown interview.

7.  Everytime I think I’ve met everyone I need to meet, I find someone new at Podcamp who enriches my life- whether it’s having encouraged Keith Burtis to attend Podcamp Toronto- now he’s head of Social Media for Best Buy; Having met the ever-winderful Paul Muller of the Caffination Podcast at Podcamp Philly, and Paul was instrumental I helping Podcamp Philly 2 happen at Temple University;  Getting to know Andy and Vivian at Podcamp NYC and then they developed Podcamp EDU down at American University; Meeting linda Mills at Podcamp Toronto and finding out she lived near me in Philly– there’s always a new treasure around the corner to be discovered.  In fact, I’ve talked to Angelo Mandato by phone extensively, but this upcoming Podcamp Toronto is the first time we’ll meet in person!

You never know what your friends will say about you, or how it will come back home to help you in ways you never could predict or imagine.  But what I do know is that the friends I made at the first Podcamp have enriched my life immeasurably, and the strength of these ties over time continue to bring rewards that I am unendingly grateful for.

I tell you all of this so the next time you wonder whether or not to attend an event, take the risk and look for the silver lining.  Meet people, talk, and be yourself.  The rewards – the ROI may not always be obvious, but the downstream effects may be priceless.