I wonder how many interesting conversations and start of connections we miss by simply not saying “hi” to a stranger. I make small talks to strangers many times and most of them last just a couple of exchanges. However, some of my most interesting and enjoyable conversations I’ve had online and off started with just a simple comment or a question.

Last night, a simple “hello” and “where are you from?” from me to a stranger at a sushi bar led to  spending about 30 minutes talking with someone who is a family friend of Alex Smith, the 49ers quarterback. He was also teacher at the high school Smith and Reggie Bush attended. As a football fan, specifically Alex Smith and 49ers, it was a really fun conversation. When I went to Rhode Island for a conference last month, I had a lot of fun getting to know the van driver. I learned a lot about him and he provided me some history of that state as we drove by the area. A simple “It’s hot today isn’t it?” question to another person while we’re waiting to cross the busy bike paths at UCSB led me to about 15 minute conversation after realizing that we have a common friend, a friend I’ve known for the last 20 years. I also found out that he was the father-in-law of a nephew I had just recently re-connected with at that time. When I’ve traveled to different cities in the past, some of the most memorable experience I’ve had were those conversations I had with those I met at restaurants, in cabs and in New Orleans, a friendly homeless person in the middle of the night on my way back to my hotel room after dinner.

The connections I have made with few folks online started with me making the first tweet or some folks welcoming me to their online community. One community in particular I’ve found to be very welcoming is #sachat – a group of student affairs and higher education professionals. I’ve even met some of them in real life and they are just as welcoming and friendly as they are online. It’s amazing how my short  twitter experience of just a year which led me to professional connections just started with a tweet or two.

As someone who is still relatively new to twitter, I am always appreciative when someone who is relatively new or those  I only read about and follow like @briansolis, @marismith and @scobleizer, @askaaronlee take their time to respond to a tweet of mine or even follow me back. Mari Smith tweeted me back after I thanked her for acknowledging my tweet with this – “I love to treat all peeps as equals. Everyone is important to me.:)” With this attitude, no wonder she has garnered many followers. Likewise, I also respond to tweets, even just to start a connection. Yes, these tweets may only be a few words and the follows may seem trivial, but they could be start of a connection and interesting conversations.

Do you have similar experience to share? I’d love to hear them.