With temporary SoMeT tattoos, it's Anne Hornyak playing Jake and Elwood (photo courtesy anneh632 on Flickr CC)Meetings are no longer one-off, terrestrial events that happen over the course of a few days and then are done until the next year.

Thanks to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, you can (cliché alert!) extend the conversation around an event, both online and off, from January through December.

Take a look at the activity and discussions on the Facebook Pages for BlogWorld and New Media Expo or SoMeT.

Take a look at the Twitter hashtag chatter for SOBCon or TBEX or all of the 140 Characters Conferences – and many of the SoMeT attendees met each other first through #tourismchat.

These are no longer just your standard panels/keynotes/rubber chicken lunch/trade show blah-blah-blah where “the really good stuff happens in the convention center hallways.”

These are vibrant, helpful, year-round communities in which the online interaction solidifies and grows the offline, and vice versa. This level of enthusiasm translates into more interest in the event; in the case of SOBCon, they were already registering for the 2011 version the minute the 2010 one finished, and now there’s a #SOBCon chat (you don’t have to have attended to conference to hang out there, either.)

The bar for meetings is raised.  People don’t want a good thing to end, and it doesn’t have to, when you use social networking tools to sustain and grow the connections.

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