I knew I would have a great time at the AMTA's National Convention in Minneapolis this past week, I just didn't know how much Facebook would have to do with it!

After arriving in Minneapolis Wednesday evening I enjoyed dinner with a few friends at a cool spot called The Barrio. As I looked around the table I realized several of the faces I saw, whom I had never met in person, were my Facebook friends. It was fun to watch as strangers, recognizing each other from their online realities, become old friends. This process occurred quickly since people already had background knowledge of each other from their Facebook posts and profiles.

Milling around the convention floor Thursday afternoon I bumped into Ryan Hoyme - The Massage Nerd. I had never met Ryan and was looking forward to introducing myself and saying hello. To my surprise after introducing myself, he asked me how my toe was feeling. He had read my status update on Facebook a few days earlier stating I had injured myself. This scene was repeated multiple times during my stay in Minneapolis and was not an experience unique to me. It was not unusual to hear a conversation start with "Hey, have you met so-and-so, my friend from Facebook" or "Don't I know you from Facebook?"

The power of Facebook to connect like-minded individuals was never more apparent than Thursday night when over 200 "Facebook friends" converged at a little pub called Brits. The event, titled Facebook Meet and Greet in Minneapolis, was organized and promoted on Facebook by Scott Dartnall, Robyna Donovan-Green, Laura Allen and Angie Patrick. And what a meet and greet it was! Attendees shared words of wisdom, traded business cards and raised a glass or two as virtual friendships gained depth and dimension.

I came away from the 2010 AMTA National Convention in Minneapolis with a newfound respect and appreciation of my virtual Facebook friends. What a wonderfully diverse and extraordinary group of individuals I have the pleasure of calling my "friends." It was truly a gift to shake some of their hands and raise a glass.

To keep the social networking train rolling, I'd love to hear what your Facebook experience has been like, especially if you were at AMTA National last week!