Connecting people

Conferences are great. Not just because you can (hopefully) learn a lot by attending, but also because they give you the chance to meet great people who share your interests and work on the same issues you’re facing. Obviously, most of those desirable effects happen during, or maybe after the conferences themselves. (But it applies to conventions, meetings and the like.) Is that really the only option? Some context: this month I’m flying to Amsterdam to attend User Experience 2008.