I admit it: I'm addicted to eBay (www.ebay.com). I buy, I sell. I meet people from all over the world with the same interests (in my case, antiques and vintage jewelry).

Among the first Web companies to build an online community — which is often cited as the driver of its enormous success — is eBay. What's really interesting is that some of the people who have met through its chatrooms and forums are meeting in person. I've heard of a group of D.C.-based antique jewelry lovers who will be getting together this fall — and I'm sure there are more.

Another favorite site of mine is Fast Company's “Company of Friends” (www.fastcompany.com/cof). Same thing: What started as an online entity now has 150 cells (regional groups) that get together both online and off, sometimes with FC editors joining in.

The same thing is happening in our industry. BiZBash.com just announced a one-day trade show (Oct. 11) at the Javits Center for the New York City event, meeting, and business entertaining industry. At July's Meeting Professionals International meeting in Las Vegas, members of the mimlist (www.mim.com) gathered for a group photo and to finally meet the people with whom they had been communicating online for the past year. This listserv's participants are planning other gatherings at industry meetings and in their regions.

MPI is hot on the trail, announcing seven “Communities of Interest,” online chats segmented by subject: corporate meetings, technology, outsourcing, certification and careers, and so on. My prediction: It's only a matter of time before the participants in MPI's online communities take this very specialized virtual network to the next level — the physical one.

After all the predictions that the Internet would replace meetings, what we're finding is that it's creating even more meetings. It's human nature for people want to bounce ideas off others, to network, and to collaborate — and the best way to do that will always be face-to-face.