I chuckled, thinking he was joking.
He said, "I see your name all over the place."
I asked him what he was talking about, and he said he has seen me all over the Internet. He found me first on Twitter (back when I was working Twitter, I had a fair number of followers), but then, curious, saw my name in lots of different places online.
This was the first time for me that someone local knew of me because of my online presence.
This tells me two things:
First, real-world businesses must start engaging their customer base online. If they don't, their competitors will beat them to the punch (if they haven't already). More and more people are going online to research local businesses and the names behind those businesses. Doesn't it make sense to have them find your message rather than what others are saying about you?
Second, be very aware and careful of what you're doing online as well as what your name is attached to. I stand behind everything I do in my online business and am completely ethical in my practices. I don't dip into niches that I don't feel 100% OK with ethically, and I use pen names in those that are a little "different" (thankfully my name isn't tied to my old Hannah Montana site!).
The lines between "local" and "online" are just beginning to blur, but the more connected the world gets, the more important both of these things will be.